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Part III: Creating Knowledge

Part III: Creating Knowledge

In the Parts I and II of this book, you learned about information—how to find it and how to organize it. Now, in Part III, you learn about knowledge. The field of knowledge management is alive with many models (and many debates) about what constitutes information versus knowledge. DIKW is one model that serves as a basis for many approaches to the practice of knowledge management in organizations.

Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom

These terms are defined differently by various practitioners, but in general, the following definitions are true.

  • Data

    An objective fact about the world, data lacks context or meaningful relation to anything else. For instance, an acre consists of 5,128 square feet. This is an objective fact, but does it tell you how big an acre is?

  • Information

    Although information provides a context for data or the relationships between data elements, it does not provide information about why the data exists the way it does or how it might change over time. For instance, if I add that an acre is about the size of a football field without the end zones, you have a context that enables you to understand how big an acre is.

  • Knowledge

    When you understand the patterns of information and their implications for action, you have knowledge. In the acre example, you might put information about acres together with other information to conclude that with new tractors and high production corn seed, an emerging country can triple its food production.

  • Wisdom

    When you understand the foundational principles that underlie knowledge, you have wisdom. For instance, you might examine the immediate benefit of increased food production to see whether a country should take out low-cost loans on tractors, what the long-term environmental effects are of using high production corn seed, and what cultural impact this will have. Then, you might be better able to make a wise decision.

Although specifics of the model can be argued, it’s clear knowledge workers add value to the data or information an organization has, to transform it into knowledge that can be acted on to meet organizational goals.

There are three types of information that are commonly transformed into knowledge: numeric data, text documents, and visual representations of trends and concepts. In addition, in today’s increasingly collaborative workplace it’s vital to understand how knowledge is created with other workers.

Part III shows you how to transform information into knowledge in these four central areas. Chapter 9, “Creating Knowledge Using Numbers,” teaches you how to summarize your Microsoft Excel data by sorting, filtering, and subtotaling it. You learn how to analyze your data with formulas and advanced functions, and how to create PivotTables that summarize your information. You also learn how to solve what-if problems and project trends, so you have a sense of the implications of the information you have stored.

In Chapter 10, “Creating Knowledge Using Visuals,” you learn how to illustrate patterns with charts and PivotCharts in Excel, and how to use charts to visually represent trends over time. You also learn how to illustrate concepts and processes in Microsoft PowerPoint by combining a variety of tools, including diagrams, clip art, and drawing tools, and to diagram complex illustrations with Microsoft Visio.

Chapter 11, “Creating Knowledge Using Documents,” teaches you how to transform information into knowledge by organizing and supporting conclusions with Microsoft Word documents. You see how to organize your thoughts with outlines and mind maps, and build on previous work by recycling old documents, using templates, and creating a clause bank. You also learn how to support your points with data tables, integrated charts and diagrams, and references.

If you produce knowledge in collaboration with other people, Chapter 12, “Creating Knowledge with People,” is for you. In it you see how to coordinate the work you do with others. You learn how to use the powerful review features of Word to quickly move through the review cycle. You also find out how to discuss your work online with Web discussions, instant messaging, and online meetings.



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