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The Definition of Knowledge and Its Management

What is knowledge?

According to the World Development Report 1988 released by World Bank, knowledge is defined as the information for production.
While in Managing for Results (1964), Drucker described knowledge as “But knowledge is a specifically human resource. It is not found in books. Books contain information; whereas knowledge is the ability to apply information to specific work and performance”.

The characteristics of knowledge (hard to be managed)

  1. 1.
    Knowledge somehow represents power and advantage. People are not always willing to share all their knowledge and experience. A proper scheme is needed to inspire them.
  2. 2.
    Knowledge is fluid. The inner staff in an organization may move, while the individuals may forget it.
  3. 3.
    Knowledge is fragmented. It needs to be upgraded from time to time.
  4. 4.
    The value and interests of Knowledge can’t be valued quickly.

What is knowledge management?

The classic one-line definition of Knowledge Management was offered up by Tom Davenport early on (Davenport, 1994): “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.”
Or knowledge management is a system that can transfer the captured information into knowledge. It can generally and continuously collect explicit and tacit information and then transform it into the business culture or individual brands. This system allows people to focus on the exchange of information. Through the interactive, the value of knowledge can be re-created.
What is more important:
  • Collect high-quality information including the hidden knowledge, and be aware of the information addict
  • Transfer knowledge effectively
  • Build a standard system (e.g. Zettelkasten method)
  • Connect the dots and inspire new knowledge.

The meaning of knowledge management

Peter Drucker predicted in 1965 that knowledge would become the most important factor of production instead of the land, labor, capital, and machinery. He believed that in the 21st century’s organization, the most valuable asset is the knowledge employees and their productivity.
In this information age, knowledge has become the principal source of wealth, while the knowledge employees are the most vigorous assets. The first task of organizations and individuals is to manage the knowledge. Proper knowledge management will make the organizations and individuals more competitive and better at making decisions.
Currently, the science of management focuses on the knowledge work in the level of incorporates and managers rather than the level of individuals. Although most of the work today is knowledge-driven, the core of management is still the managers and incorporates. Individuals are always not that important.
But with the improvements of infrastructure and the growth of the content creator economy, we may spend less time in one organization but live for a longer time. Most of us need knowledge management, which means investing in knowledge to accumulate compound interests.
Andrew Hunt once suggested that to manage knowledge in the way of managing portfolios.[1]
  1. 1.
    Invest it regularly: To form a habit of learning.
  2. 2.
    Diversification matters in the long-term investment: Focus on the present as well as the range of focus.
  3. 3.
    Manage the risk: Never put all the eggs in one basket but also remember to prevent low risk and low return.
  4. 4.
    Always manage to buy low and sell high: Learn some new emerging techniques.
  5. 5.
    Evaluate and balance your investment periodically: Evaluate the knowledge that deserves to be concerned.

The classification of knowledge

According to the adaptability

According to Drucker’s Post-capitalist Society, he divided knowledge into:
  • General knowledge means the wisdom which is cultivating nurtured moral human beings.
  • Specialized knowledge means the information in action that can be proven to be effective for the outcome of the action, mainly in work, study, work analysis, and work management.
Say, if you are on a desert island, you may probably wish to be accompanied by **Bear Grylls rather than Confucius and Socrates. The latter may have general knowledge but the former can solve the problem of basic demands on a desert island. Because of the difference in general knowledge and specialized knowledge, this new society could be built after the industrial revolution.

According to the qualities of knowledge

  • Knowledge of facts: know what. It is about historical facts, experiences, and statistics.
  • Knowledge of principles: know why. It is about the principle and rules which usually belongs to science.
  • Knowledge of skills: know how. It is about the crafts, skills, and abilities which usually belong to the techniques.
  • Knowledge of human: know who. It is about who knows what and who knows how. It includes some specific social relationships and social divisions. It usually belongs to experience and judgment.

According to the form of knowledge

  • Explicit Knowledge: Also known as coding knowledge, it refers to knowledge that can be expressed in language, words, numbers, and so on. It can be easily communicated and shared, and it can be presented in the form of documents, manuals, reports, maps, etc.
  • Tacit Knowledge: Also called uncoded knowledge, it refers to knowledge that is difficult to express, highly personalized, and difficult to be communicated and shared, such as the experience, know-how, and intuition of operators or employees.
    • Skill-based tacit: informal, hard-to-express skills, techniques, experience, and know-how.
    • Cognitive tacit: insights, intuition, perceptions, values, mental models, and team’s rapport, understanding and organizational culture.