Transforming Information into Knowledge, by Peter J. Rizza, Jr. – Princeton Center

“We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge”, Rutherford D. Rogers, Yale Librarian, 1985. This quote just about says it all. We spend so much time focused on data and information we fail to see that what we really need is knowledge and perhaps even wisdom. We need to prepare knowledge workers, because:

  • data leads to ==> information
  • information leads to ==> knowledge
  • knowledge leads to ==> action
  • action leads to ==> results

Before we go any further we need to look at our assumptions and do a reality checks. The following assumptions are fairly universal if you want to make any progress:

  • Everyone in the organization must see and understand the big picture. If you want people to work together as a productive team they must all have the ultimate goal in mind or they may work at cross purposes.
  • People will tolerate the directives of leadership, but they will ultimately act on their own. If the end users and operators do not know what to do, they will make their own minds up about what is best.
  • By appealing to the highest level of thinking in your people, you will get the highest level of action, commitment and alignment. This is often overlooked.

We need to consider some of the most critical questions first to better understand this need to transform information into knowledge to improve productivity.

What is Knowledge?

“Knowledge comes in two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it”,  Samuel Johnson  1775. It seems we are not new to this issue of using what we know and/or finding out what we need to know as quickly as possible.

What is driving the need for Knowledge?

There are a number of factors that have placed more emphasis on having knowledge and using it wisely, some of these are:

  • Increasing Rate of Change – it is not just change but the need to keep up with the rate of change that is challenging to many. How do you obtain new knowledge? – finding knowledge in this sea of information may be the most challenging task of all.
  • Geographically Dispersed Workforce – with virtual offices, international locations and multiple languages, the task of gathering and sharing meaningful knowledge is difficult. How do you share knowledge?
  • Attrition, Restructuring, Retirement. How do you retain knowledge?

Knowledge according to   Peter Drucker!

  • If we apply knowledge to tasks we already know  how to do, we call it productivity.
  • If we apply knowledge to tasks that are new and different, we call it innovation.

What is Knowledge Management?

  • A system to capture, classify, transfer and apply knowledge in an organization for the purpose of improving productivity and enabling innovation.

What is the Goal of Knowledge Management?

  • To promote, gather, filter, organize and provide relevant, quality information and knowledge to professionals in a timely and user friendly manner.
  • To transform information and intellectual assets into enduring value

Some Guidelines for Knowledge Management.

  • Organizational needs come first – alignment
  • Look at the complete picture – integrated action
  • Use the best people – not the most expendable
  • Understand “need-to-know versus need-to-access”

What Business Processes Influence Knowledge?

  • Create repeatable solutions – reduce time to create and deploy
  • Manage complex projects – reduce frustration, increase performance
  • Continuously access – rapid updates and response
  • Continuously reuse, reapply & improve – reduce time-to-solution

What results can we expect from  well-defined knowledge transfer system?

  • Improved Effectiveness
  • Reduced Rework
  • Improved Efficiency
  • Improved Focus
  • Work Elimination