Summary of Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow

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  • Comprehensive
  • Innovative
  • Concrete Examples


The market offers numerous books on knowledge management, but this manual provides a refreshing change. Far too many of its competitors share the conceptual weaknesses author Frank Leistner warns against: They treat knowledge as if it were the same as information, and they take refuge in abstraction, rather than addressing the complex human challenges inherent to knowledge transfer. Leistner draws on his own experience with ToolPool, a knowledge-sharing initiative at SAS, and uses it to provide concrete examples. He proves pragmatic and realistic about the challenges involved, and he offers specific suggestions. getAbstract recommends his book to anyone interested in innovation or corporate culture, as well as to managers who are developing learning organizations or guiding knowledge management initiatives.

About the Author

Frank Leistner is Chief Knowledge Officer at SAS Institute. He originally developed computer operating systems, then moved to developing end-user software in 1993. Since 1997 he has been leading knowledge management initiatives at SAS.



Knowledge Flow, Not Knowledge Management

Many organizations deal with knowledge badly. They duplicate efforts and miss opportunities due to ignorance or, even more destructively, because someone in the organization had a valuable idea that never got shared. Why does this happen, not once in a while, but all the time? First, many people confuse the key concept of “knowledge,” using the term interchangeably with “information.” Information can be recorded and transferred. Knowledge cannot. Knowledge depends on the presence of an active mind. Knowledge exists when you connect information to past experiences. Knowledge “cannot be managed.” Therefore, the common term “knowledge management” contains a built-in misconception. That encourages people to make up definitions of the term to include whatever they want or need to address. Thus, they approach knowledge in dysfunctional ways.

Because knowledge exists only “in the context of the mind,” it “is actually tacit (implicit) by nature.” This means that knowledge cannot be externalized. Instead, spreading it requires multiple conversion processes. Knowledge must be converted to information, which can be shared. That is, a ...

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