KMGN Beacon. Issue 1
The View (Editors Letter)
Dear KMGN members,
Article of the Month: ISCCEE Model of Knowledge Dimensions & Conversion
When you attempt to define knowledge, you will find different people and businesses defining it in different ways and purposes. The same applies when you ask about the types of knowledge in an endeavor to answer that first question. However, for the sake of this article’s purpose, we will stick to this statement:
Knowledge exists is three states:
In order for organizations to benefit from knowledge, it most probably needs to be as explicit as possible. This means that implicit and tacit knowledge need to be converted into a more usable state to be used and applied to problem-solving or decision-taking situations.
Organizations can benefit from explicit knowledge, may benefit by implicit knowledge, but cannot do with tacit knowledge. This naturally applies when you want to transfer knowledge to others so they are as knowledgeable as the next person. However, when it is tacit, it is deep and this means that in most cases you do not know you have that knowledge in your organization, thus you miss out on it.
That is why that tacit knowledge needs to be “emancipated” to the realm of explicit or at least implicit level, and to do that you need to understand the dimensions and conversion approaches that explain how this happens.
Immense discussions have been around for some time and resulted in what can be considered the basis knowledge management, as we know it today, stands on.
Among these were the SECI Model for Knowledge Conversion by Ikujiro Nonaka, the I-Space conceptual framework by Max Boisot and the Cynefin Framework developed by Dave Snowden. The attempt was to understand how knowledge moves, develops and is used.
To accommodate the three types of knowledge types, and how they are moving in those dimensions, I present a model that explains this “emancipation” of knowledge assets in the “Ba” of Nonaka or the “Cynefin” of Snowden, both revered authorities on the subject.
The six facets of ISCCEE conversion
ISCCEE is an acronym for Identification, Socialization, Conveyance, Contemplation, Erudition, and Encryption. These are the six conversions of knowledge that happen within the dimension in which knowledge resides.
Imagine the universe of ISCCEE conversion as a cube within a cube. The smaller cube is Knowledge while the bigger one is the conversion process.
The six faces of the cube represent a status that a specific type of knowledge is going through.
The six faces are six conversions in order as below:
The path of the order is explained in the next diagram:
Situation: The will of the organization to audit what they have in terms of Knowledge Assets. This is not aimed only at tacit, but also includes explicit and implicit knowledge assets.
Approach: Knowledge audit, induction, situational observation
Situation: The creation of a cultural environment that spreads knowledge sharing so people can see what others know, connect with them, and recognize means of contributing to a common objective of capacity building and development of ideas and concepts in different fields.
Approaches: Communities of Practice, Communities of Interest, Work Teams and Groups, Knowledge Events, storytelling.
When knowledge is at the implicit knowledge level or stage, it is at least known. It is the same of Nonaka’s SECI dimensions for tacit knowledge but applied on implicit one. Sharing and transferring implicit through experiences or events (cafes, lectures…) attended by people with implicit (or even tacit) knowledge. Socialization is basically breaking down barriers of knowledge hoarding. Naturally this stems from willingness of knowledge owner or holder to share it with others.
Situation: Knowledge transfer in a concentrated manner through specific apprenticeship programs
Approaches: Meetings, brainstorming, interviews, observation, mentoring, shadowing, note taking. Conveyance is transfer. This is when knowledge is actually laying the foundation for being explained, communicated and comprehended. Nonaka believes that since implicit knowledge is difficult to formalize and often time and space specific, it can be acquired only through shared experience, such as spending time together living in the same environment or working on the same project. This can happen in any manner that translates knowledge into simpler form that can be understood by the recipients, and occurs in a traditional apprenticeship setting where apprentices learn the knowledge needed in their craft through hands-on experience, rather than from written manuals or textbooks.
Situation: Delivering on targets; be them learning, performance, or task oriented ones. prototypes.
Approaches: Book of Knowledge, knowledge repositories, networks, expert locator systems. Although knowledge is now concrete, it still needs some work to be more useful. One definition of KM that I like is “providing the right information to the right person and the right time and in the right format to make and take the right decision.” Part of that definition is format, and time. Sorting and combining knowledge assets to serve defined purposes, answer certain questions and aid specific people is essential. This includes publishing, articulation and de-codification develops the basis for new knowledge creation. What is conceptual and inherit is now concrete and sharable. Without that, knowledge assets would remain stored in a database and no one would know about it, use it or develop it into new knowledge. Dissemination does not occur and the learning process is broken.
Situation: Your ability to create new knowledge by identifying the connections and patterns to make sense between these different domains of knowledge, points of view to come up, based on your newly learned knowledge and the inherent one from before, to create new knowledge, methods, and procedures.
Approaches: Innovation and Creativity, Learning Organization, fostering learning and encouraging it, R&D. The new knowledge creation starts at this stage provided that we get here successfully. Recipients learned knowledge from the sources and internalized it. This is where learning occurs. People spend too long finding information they need and little time reading, comprehending and creating/adding to it. If knowledge is available in the format that can be used, accessed in time to use and comprehended fully, then creativity and innovation happen through reflection that happens in different ways for different people depending on their different abilities, understandings and purposes. These differences make the new knowledge created implicit (remember we said it depends on varying competencies, comprehension and purpose.) It is not explicit as people cannot see it, understand it, or accessed the way you, the creator of this new knowledge, do. It will be part of your individual private deep knowledge, skill and competency at one level, and part of the organization’s capabilities deep in its processes and procedures on the other.
Situation: The patents, Innovative solutions, creative processes of the organization.
Approaches: Tools can be as in phase 1 (Knowledge audit, induction, situational observation.). This is how knowledge becomes tacit. It is encrypted, mostly in the brain of the learner in a manner that he/she only can understand or fathom its depth, dimension and even application. It can also be encrypted in how an organization does its work. This could be manifested in processes, culture or even legally protected patents (it is tacit to outsiders but very explicit for the organization). Because of that, it cannot be identified or accessed unwillingly. That is why it is so difficult to capture that type of knowledge. It is too deep that normal knowledge identification or capturing processes will only scratch the surface.
Points to consider:
Organization of the Month: Saudi Central Bank
The KM team (4+) interviewed 46 of the 48 organizational units and received responses from 44 units. The KLA report was built on these responses and recommendations were drawn based on the findings after analyzing these responses.
The most prominent findings were:
The project took one calendar year to finish. This does not mean that the KM efforts are done, although SAMA is now considered a pioneering knowledge organization in Saudi Arabia through continuing its efforts in implementing a comprehensive Knowledge Management program. Through that phase, we prepared the ground for a proper KM program to be implemented and build upon.
KM’s Who’s Who: Karl Wiig: The Man Who Brought Us KM!