Clarity and context

claretBrad Hinton has a recent post On clarity, where he suggests that a key element of knowledge management has been ignored: the goal of being able to do something with all this stuff (whether documents, databases, or a picture of the organizational network).

One of the forgotten aspects of knowledge management relates to clarity.  Wikipedia defines clarity as referring “to one’s ability to clearly visualize an object or concept, as in thought, (and) understanding”.  Without providing clarity, can we have successful knowledge management?

This sounds similar to the idea of Context that I've written about in relation to knowledge management.  I've often thought that the goal behind knowledge management is to help the people in the organization build a better sense of context around their work.  And the way Brad is talking about clarity sounds like a similar view of the goals, though the perspective may be slight different.

An example.  I was watching Michael Clayton with my wife the other day, and there is a scene where someone asks George Clooney who amongst the law firm's 700 attorneys in an expert in a topic.  George knew off the top of his head.  Unfortunately, that expert was missing.  My wife thought it a funny KM problem.  But if the KM effort revolves around the one element of having experts and knowing who they are, there will be trouble.  The need to develop understanding of the topic is there beyond the fact of having some experts.  Even before I know that an expert exists, I need to have the means to learn about a topic enough that I can ask sensible questions.  This process can be iterative if the topic is of any complexity.

Embedded in this are education and training, business processes, business environment, and maybe some software.  So why is it that KM still focuses so heavily on the software end of things?

[Photo: "Claret" by Bert 2332]

1 Comment(s)

Brad said:

Jack,

I think we see the KM challenge in pretty much the same way. Context and clarity go together - they are mutually reinforcing.

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