D-I-K feedback

Amitchell DIK reality map, click for full imageOne of my readers, Andrew Mitchell, was inspired by my Making sense of D-I-K-W that he has come up with his own model (click for full image).  Essentially, data-information-knowledge work together as a loop and get tested against the harsh world of reality.

This image is Andrew Mitchell's work.  He's at UrbisJHD in Australia and is in their Knowledge & Information Management organization.

8 Comment(s)


Thanks for the diagrams.

I'm interested: what do you and Dave Snowden have against Wisdom as part of this picture?

Also, how does your model and Andrew's model account for experiential learning? If we learn through experience (action, reflection etc) how is this incorporated into the actor and what do you call it? It's not quite knowledge because it's as much know-how and a sense or sensibility for how to approach things. Why not go ahead and call it learned practical wisdom or something like that?


Lauchlan Mackinnon

jackvinson Author Profile Page said:

Thanks, Lauchlan-

I know that Dave Snowden has a deeper reaction against adding wisdom to this discussion, particularly when it becomes Wisdom Management to parallel DM, IM and KM.

But, if you are just trying to show how all these components work together, then I suspect one could add wisdom to the mix. On the other hand, wisdom might be implicit in the models that incorporate feedback from the real world. Wisdom, at least on version, is the ongoing learning that humans gain from reflecting on their observations and seeking to do better.

The problem is that we attach many kinds of meaning to wisdom, from the deeply spiritual to the more practical suggestion above. Adding that to a model for public discussion can take the discussion along a path that isn't relevant.

Thanks for your interest Lauchlan.

I've got a very broad perspective of what knowledge is that really encompasses everything from muscle memory (you know how to brush your teeth without thinking about it) to wisdom (which I think of as excellent context-sensitive decision making that's been developed over time).

To me learning is what occurs in the iteration between the data, information and knowledge elements (as indicated by the arrows between these elements PLUS the use of knowledge to act in the real world and the receipt of additional data (including your reflections on observations). So in effect, learning is the result of the model being in action over time.

What do you think of these views?


Dave Snowden Author Profile Page said:

Lauchlan, its bad enough to see people attempting to define information V knowledge, but when they get onto wisdom it is incoherent. OK D-I-K-W comes out of the one of the founding fathers of system thinking. However I doubt any philosopher would give it any credence. Used in the context of wisdom management it is pure pretension

Dave - as I mentioned to Jack via email, despite philosophy being literally 'the love of wisdom', I don't think that philosphers have done all that much scholarly work on articulating 'wisdom'.

In the early days of my Ph.D, while I was casting around for a good topic, I mentioned to my supervisor, the professor of philosophy, that I had some ideas about wisdom and it might make a good thesis topic. My supervisor discouraged me on the basis that non-one had written much on it, there was not much literature on it, and I'd find it a difficult Ph.D topic from a scholarly point of view as there was not much literature I could relate my thoughts to. You might think that that's all the more reason for doing it , but in any case I moved on to other topics.

In any case, I would like to put out for reflection, following St. Thomas Aquinas (himself following Aristotle), that

"the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things."

Here, Wisdom is "higher" and more profound (and harder to describe) than knowledge which is again more profound and harder to describe than information. I think part of Aquinas's point (interpreting him as talking about I-K-W) is that there is much more uncertainty about discussing and conceptualising and managing Wisdom than there is about managing knowledge and in turn about managing information. But the returns in doing so can be substantial.

Of course, in the modern world, it can't be a choice between information and knowledge, and between information and wisdom - we need to manage information as well as knowledge, and to manage knowledge as well as wisdom.


Lauchlan Mackinnon

Andrew, I work in Melbourne on Collins St. near your Melbourne office. If you're in Melbourne some time and up for a coffee to discuss KM etc, I'm up for it. Also happy to link on on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) if you like - I have open link enabled so just send me an open message on LinkedIn, or leave a comment on my blog http://lauchlanmackinnon.blogspot.com/, and I'll send you an invite. Same offer extends to Jack and Dave.

Kind regards

Lauchlan Mackinnon


Thanks, I'll be in touch via LinkedIn. I'm Melbourne based (although travelling at the moment) and would like to catch up as you suggest.


A good example of the power of social media! Your blog enabled a local connection that would not otherwise have occurred.


Jack -

I have just re-posted Andrew's model on my blog - with permission. Just thought you would like to know. See it at: http://delarue.net/blog/2007/08/the-knowledge-pyramid-revisited/.

- Keith De La Rue

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