Promote and Provide Knowledge Above Just Information
On the surface, it's easy to think there's not much difference between knowledge and information. A closer look at the concept, much like the one provided by Jabra on its blog recently, shows there's a world of difference between the two, and in the end, only one is really useful.
The look began as Holger Reisinger recently went looking for a report on his company's file servers. Version after version of that report came up, but even an hour's searching later, the actual point Reisinger was searching for wasn't to be had. There was information aplenty to be had—the same report had several versions come up—but the actual information needed, the knowledge in question, couldn't be had.
Essentially, this point illustrates the difference between knowledge and information, and it's the same difference as the one between a square and a rectangle. Knowledge is a kind of refined, particular information, the result of information that is applicable to a particular situation, having gone through a sort of testing in real-world terms. Given that studies from McKinsey & Co. suggest we spend almost one full day every week—about 19 percent of the week—searching for information, there's a huge gain in productivity to be had
Thus, knowledge is routinely changing. As that real-world in which we test information to become knowledge changes, so too does our understanding, and so too the resultant product. Knowledge must be shared, therefore, to better test it in real-world conditions. So in order to make knowledge out of the information we have on hand, we need a few simple steps in place.
First, we need to focus more on empowering our employees. The more employees can do, the more testing of information will take place and the more knowledge will be generated as a result. Second, we need to reward the sharing of knowledge and discourage its hoarding; knowledge can't be improved until we share it. Finally, we need the right tools in place to better get that knowledge where it needs to be when it needs to be used.
When all of the excess and irrelevancies of information are stripped away, what's left is knowledge, a powerful, distilled form that can be put to work immediately. Information is valuable, but only valuable as it is the raw material from which knowledge is made. We've seen it in big data operations hundreds of times; all the information that goes in is only valuable to produce the actionable insights—the knowledge—that comes out of the process.
In the end, the more we can do to get knowledge out to users, the better off we'll all be. Less searching means less time lost, and less time lost means greater productivity. That's valuable by any measure, and helps us all get that much more done.
Edited by Maurice Nagle