Just how do we create knowledge?
There are basic conditions and special practices that help with knowledge formation and utility vetting.
- Generative community
At the top my list is a community - a group that
shares interests, develops a common language, builds trust, shares experiences
and engages in dialog. With new tools for connecting such as blogs, IM, VoIP,
web-based conferencing, e-mail and listservs it is no longer necessary to be
co-located. Sharing deep insights, subtle differences and articulating experiences
is easier and faster during face-to-face exchanges, helped by the presence of
artifacts or exemplars and promoted when the group is open to reflection around
A community is where proto-theories are examined, where ideas are tossed into the mix, where creative abrasion helps to surface hidden assumptions and assists with exploring thoughts we did not know we knew. Social mediation is key, and this is where cohorts help you make meaning and gain understanding. We own a social brain and apprenticeship is the natural way to learn. We need cohorts and community to build a shared repertoire of key concepts, evolve tools, craft language, gather stories and highlight sensitivities.
- Deep dialog
Dorothy Leonard struck a chord talking of creative
abrasion in her book "Wellsprings of knowledge". To change
mindsets you need to raise energy levels, increase the attention and focus.
This is difficult to achieve in a placid conversation. Exposure to alternative
assumptions and frames, some advocacy, deep dialog, strong engagement and a
pure clash of ideas help to unsettle, and resettle meaning. Prior
beliefs are difficult to change using classroom instruction and teaching as
telling. Taken too far, increasing stress levels will reduce the learning
opportunity, there is a fine balance to be maintained.
Conversations to assist participants opening up possibilities, sharing relationships, engaging in reflection and inquiry, allowing them to give 'voice' to their unspoken values, insights and beliefs.
- Crafting distinctions
A basic premise for knowledge sharing is that we share context.
When a group has agreed on meaning, established the boundaries of their
discourse and know the interests and expertise of their members, they leverage
their ability to do productive work, and explore advanced topics by orders of
The key is arriving at a shared understanding. Naming experiences, exploring & testing uniqueness and utility is perhaps the core practice for making new connections, increasing awareness and sharing insights.
With information overload all around us, easy access to information and multiple versions, it is essential to belong to a group or network that will act as a filter, pointing you to new, interesting, unusual or intriguing tools, conversations, papers, groups and theories. Keeping up with information torrents and maintaining a sharp focus while being open to new thoughts and discontinuities is difficult to do alone.
Information is embedded in a web of relationships,
connections and context. An understanding of the essential differences between information
and knowledge helps focus on qualities and practices that foster knowledge
Knowledge ecology is a subtle concept, concerned with knowledge flows and dynamics, relationships, learning, dialog, social networking, building social and human capital. The focus is on personalization, interactions, culture, practices and social context. KE is about sharing, learning, innovation and the environment (Ba) for knowledge creation. Core practices are dialog, reflection, brainstorming, conceptual mapping, knowledge construction & summarization. Core representations are stories, pattern language, distinctions, conceptual graphs and sociograms.
Your thoughts please!