Friday, June 10, 2011

Gnosis = Knowledge

What is Knowledge?

The term Knowledge has no one agreed-upon meaning and it is still very much open to debate. One of the main 'issues' is the thin line of what constitutes something as being identified to be 'knowledge' vis-à-vis to being just 'information'.

These terms are so widely used in an interchangeable manner in a multitude of situations that, to me, relates to the fact that what constitutes as simple information to one entity, may constitute something more to another entity which in turn is able to act upon it, thus constituting of knowledge. I believe the separation is related to the 'value' and willingness to act upon this information which makes it that something more = Knowledge.

But where does it all come from and how do we get knowledge?
Again, this is very open to debate, and for academic sake, let it be open to debate as this is healthy to bring in new ideas, and question some beliefs (or pre-conceived knowledge).

I tend to see a connection with what is called tacit knowledge (i.e. the intrinsic know-how on which we base our actions on) and a persons':
  • Background, <- Race, Culture, Environment, Beliefs
  • Experiences. <- Things that a person goes through and shape his vision of the world
The Nature vs. Nurture debate is quite an interesting one in terms of knowledge management (KM), even though it might argued that it brings little value to the management side of discussions, on the other hand it might also arguably bring something unexpected. I have as of yet not encountered any article which relates this debate to KM but yet again, I am still in my beginnings of exploring the very interesting KM subject.
The 'Tabula Rasa' epistemological theory says that individuals are born all equal, without any built-in mental content, which is shaped later on through knowledge and experiences/perception. This theory supports the 'nurture' side of the debate and would mean that all are born equal and its 'life', by what we go through, which shapes who we are and what we believe. On the other hand, the Nature argument suggests a theory that we are what we are due to our nature where each individual is coined through innate 'hereditary' qualities.

Studying in a more in-depth manner of these arguments, from a KM perspective, could point out new traits of how to manage employees coming from different backgrounds in a more individualistic approach rather than in a more generalised approach as often companies tend to do.

Relating it to KM:
Humans all want to be the same, and yet we are all different by background-definition (sex/culture/experiences etc.). It's a natural thing that we want to belong to a group, or community of practice (COP) but yet be seen as individuals. Thus, even though we belong to the same COP (or company) we all have our individual thoughts and manners and it is this that brings our value to the COP. If we were all the same, then we would all bring the same value. However in reality this is not the case.

I believe that management officially tends to be very generalised where one size is seen to fit all. I believe that this is not the case in reality where micro-management is being done on an individual basis. Thus it is of my belief that KM needs to be also micro-managed differently to a each person, but yet fitting with the main KM strategy, especially in ways to help motivate the extraction and sharing of knowledge.

This is the basis of of a study I am proposing to pursue, which one way or another will lead to some new conclusions, which I wish would open more debate. Personally I definitely need to dive in to do more research on the above mentioned topics.

Comments and links are much appreciated.

Ryan Zammit -

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