Generating Knowledge


While this is a question that has been asked over and over, without us being any closer to the answer, nevertheless, it is important to develop an understanding of how people generate knowledge. For, unless we understand this, how can we, or today’s organizations, find out how to maximize this, how to facilitate knowledge creation? While I am not trying to come up with a solution, I am trying to develop a framework. I would think its a simplistic one, but this is not meant to be an elaborate one. Also, I believe that if you take a complex concept, and put it into a particular context, then it becomes quite simple, almost like describing something with an example.

Of course, this doesnt have a starting point (a circle doesnt have one), but we must begin somewhere. So, we will begin with an individual. This individual, through reading, training, or observation, develops an understanding about something. This understanding is placed in a context (which actually could be quite different from the original context, in which it was developed, for example, classroom versus on-the-job) by actually doing, and experiencing. This is the first step.

Once this individual knowledge has been developed, it is shared. This sharing is done in a number of ways, like storytelling (this is getting to be a bit of a fad), or at times, even unknowingly. For example, others might actually learn something simply by observing you, or seeing what you do in a particular scenario, and so on. This sharing of knowledge is by itself generating new knowledge, in the form of a shared understanding, or a shared model. This is the second step, and leads to a repitition of the first step.

I admit that this is a rather simplistic model, but it takes care of a few things. To begin with, it takes care of the concept of generating knowledge by sharing. Also, it takes care of the multitude of vectors which facilitate the movement of knowledge in directions and ways which are not fully understood (though it doesnt quite explain them). The drawback is that it doesnt take into consideration the nature of the knowledge being considered, whether explicit or implicit. This model assumes that the mechanism of assimilating and sharing varies based on the classification, but not the basic process.

I believe this model can be used to develop more complex models for the generation of knowledge in the organization, and I look at this only as a first step. Of course, if you look at this closely, you will be able to discern the similarly with the SECI model, but the fact is, this is focussing on the individual mechanism of learning, while the SECI model describes the mechanisms for transformation of knowledge from one form into another. Needless to say, this model must be looked at in conjunction with the SECI model, to develop a fuller picture.

All thoughts, feedback, doubts, clarifications … more than welcome!

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