Managing knowledge / managing information: what's the difference?
What are the differences between Knowledge Management (KM) and Information Management (IM)?
What I’m really asking is how you distinguish information from knowledge for working purposes. And whether that disctinction is important, and how.
To me knowledge is about experience and context. So for example within a project, whilst many sets of information are relatively easy to capture, store and share, a lot of the related knowledge falls between the cracks of (e.g.) a standard PID, a risk log and a project closure report.
What's the story behind the bare facts and figures? How do I get to hear it, share it, learn from it... ? Why does x keep happening? I know I'm supposed to do y, but what's the best way to do it?
Whilst many initiatives and systems aim to connect people with information, isn’t there as much or often more value in connecting people with people? Once in touch with each other, people (or 'knowledge workers' as I like to think of us) can share personal, first-hand knowledge - including knowledge about the information that they will inevitably share too.
It's what we do naturally, being social creatures. We instinctively know this is the most effective and valuable way to share and learn. Yet the systems we create often don't do so well at emulating or enabling this personal contact. At best they'll link me with a piece of information, but too often it lacks context, rounded explanation, the anecdotal example or know-how associated with it.
Limitations of this working culture of 'controlled environments' was highlighted excellently for me recently in this blog post from John Wenger in his ‘Quantum Shifting’ blog.
Liam Fahey and Laurence Prusak's 1998 (California Management Review) article ‘The Eleven Deadliest Sins of Knowledge Management' numbers amongst these errors (#1) ‘Not developing a working definition of knowledge’ and (#2) ‘Emphasizing knowledge stock to the detriment of knowledge flow’. ‘IM’ is important, essential – I should say that; it’s my job! – but these two errors are examples of just the areas where I’ve seen a focus on ‘IM’ getting in the way of what’s ultimately a ‘KM’ goal – particularly stockpiling information in the hope that knowledge will flow as a result (anyone else lost their way recently in a labyrinth of shared folder drives?).