Thursday, December 29, 2011

Knowledge Management: Distinguishing the difference between data, information, and knowledge

Knowledge management deals with capturing implicit and explicit knowledge within an organization, at the individual level as well as the team and/or group level.  Turner, Zimmerman, and Allen (in press) made the distinction that "knowledge management is more than just information management" (p. 3), it deals with creating, storing, and retrieving an organizations' collective knowledge.  In doing so, knowledge management makes the distinction between data, information, and knowledge.  

Davenport and Prusak (1998) distinguished data as "a set of discrete, objective facts about events" (p. 2) compared to information in which they described to be more like a message - typically in audible, visual, or digital form.  Knowledge is further separated from data and information by Davenport and Prusak's (1998) working definition:

      Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information.  It originates and is applied in the minds of knowers.  In organizations, it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories but also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms (p. 5). 

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) contrasted knowledge from information by making three observations:

  1. Knowledge, unlike information, is about beliefs and commitment.  Knowledge is a function of a particular stance, perspective, or intention.
  2. Knowledge… is about action.
  3. Knowledge… is about meaning.  It is context-specific and relational (p. 58).

Managing knowledge, rather than data or information, in an organization is critical to its' success.  For it is from this knowledge that innovation is spurred, new products are developed, and new customers are gained.  Drucker (2006) highlighted that every organization needs to be devoted to creating the new.  Drucker (2006) identified three systematic practices for organizations to complete this process, which includes the functions of knowledge management:

  1. The first is continuing improvement of everything the organization does, the process the Japanese call kaizen.
  2. Second, every organization will have to learn to exploit its knowledge, that is, to develop the next generation of applications from its own successes.
  3. Finally, every organization will have to learn to innovate… as a systematic process (pp. 142-143).


Davenport, T. H. & Prusak, L. (1998). Working knowledge: How organizations manage what they know.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Drucker, P. F. (2006). Classic Drucker: Essential wisdom of Peter Drucker from the pages of Harvard Business Review. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. 

Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge-creating company: How Japanese Companies create the dynamics of innovation.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Turner, J. R., Zimmerman, T., & Allen, J. M. (in press). Teams as a process for knowledge management.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

America is Still Exceptional: As Long as Others are Copying Us

You hear some critics of Steve Jobs claim he didn't invent his creations, he only made someone else's creations better.  This may be so, up to a point, but it doesn't diminish Job's creativity, vision, and innovation.  Job's, and others at Apple, made the mouse better than what Xerox was able to do.  This collective innovation process, from Xerox to Apple, provided users with an interactive computer experience that changed the computing industry forever.  The rest is history, which has led to the Apple we know and love today.

Copying American innovations is a daily occurrence in some parts of the world.  Fletcher (2010) highlighted that "piracy has made China one of the world's most frustrating markets for software companies…. IDC estimated that 79% of the PC software installed in China last year was pirated" (p. 1).  Samsung has been accused of copying the Apple iPhone and iPad with their Galaxy line of products in which Apple filed a patent law suit against the company.  Apple claims that "Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging" (Fried, 2011). 

Online attacks that targeted a number of U.S. Corporations originated at two Chinese Universities: Jiaotong University and the Lanziang Vocational School (Packowski, 2010).  Sources are not clear on whether these attacks are government driven or rampant students just playing around on their computers.  Either way, the security of U.S. Corporations and their privacy has been violated.

The examples provided above are only a few of the copyright, piracy, hacking, security breaches, patent infringement, examples that can easily be found in newspapers on a daily basis.  These examples are clear evidence that America is still exceptional, still provides innovative products, and still provides a product desired from around the globe.  One question would have to be made: What if no one wanted to copy American products anymore?  What if everyone wanted to copy Chinese products, or Japanese products, or India's products instead?  The point is simple: American products are still clearly innovative and America is still Exceptional!

Moving into the future we need to consider what needs to be done to continue our technical and innovative advantage.  Are we producing an educated work force to operate in and to move beyond the Web 3.0 environment?  Are we leading the technology summits around the globe, or are we participants.  Where are most of the technology students coming from in the next 20 years (U.S., China, India, etc…)?  Where are the most innovated students coming from in the next 20 years?  Is America positioned to be the clear leader in innovation and new technological products for the next generation?


Fletcher, O. (October 26, 2010). Fighting China's pirates: Software makers try lower prices to lure users away from illegal copies.  Retrieved from

Fried, I. (April 18, 2011). Apple files patent suit against Samsung over galaxy line of phones and tablets.  Retrieved from

Paczkowski, J. (February 19, 2010). World war WAN: Google hack traced to schools in China.  Retrieved from

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recharge, Reboot, Reflect, Then Charge

It's near the end of the year and everyone has already drawn their attention onto their lofty goals for the next year, 2012.  Prior to jumping into the new year too early try to recharge, reboot, and reflect first.

Recharge your batteries before you start a new journey.  Take some time away from your stressors to allow yourself to recharge.

Reboot, clear your head, remove those cobwebs.  A lot has happened over the last year and it is time to remove the clutter before beginning a new year.  Restructure what occurred over the last year and organize this information into a clear outline or summary before adding more information to the mix.

Reflect on your achievements, failures, and learning.  Look back on your biggest achievements of the past year and pat yourself on the back, smile, and take pride in what you have accomplished.  Reflect on your failures over the past year and ask yourself what you have learned from the experience, if this was to happen again I would…  Over the course of the year we have learned a lot of knowledge.  Take time to outline your knowledge into easy to remember categories; either chronologically, or by location, or by content.  Organizing your knowledge is the best way to assure that that knowledge can be recalled when needed.

Now it is your turn to charge into the next year.  But wait, first you need to set obtainable goals, not unobtainable goals that will only leave you disappointed at the end of next year.  Set goals on two different levels: easy to obtain but necessary goals, and hard to obtain but intrinsically beneficial.  Necessary but easy goals are those that you know you have to do but may not like doing them.  These are goals because you have to schedule your time to do them; work tasks, exercising, cleaning, yard work, reading a book a month/week, submitting a journal article, etc…  Set harder to obtain goals that are internally worthwhile to achieve to you, not for the benefit of anyone else.  These goals could include enrolling in college, taking a vacation, volunteering your time, starting back at church, applying for that new job or promotion, etc…  The point is to set easy and hard goals, but none that are unobtainable, be realistic.

Now that you have recharged your batteries, rebooted your memory banks, and reflected on your achievements and failures, you are ready to take the first steps toward achieving your goals for the next year.  Good luck, and remember, you don't need luck when you have planned properly.
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