Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iceberg metaphor for information and knowledge management

I've used the iceberg as a metaphor for group dynamics or group processes in teams versus content. The content and what's being said is the tip of the iceberg and the groups dynamics are all under water. Anecdote has published a white paper called: Our take on 'how to talk about Knowledge Management'.

They use the same metaphor of the iceberg to explain the difference between data, information and knowledge and it works very well too. The tip of the iceberg represents data and information. It is the domain of data and information management. It requires a certain skill set. The bulk of the iceberg below the waterline represents the knowledge in people's heads. The water the iceberg is floating in represents the organisational culture. In this domain below the waterline, a completely different language is used.

A great metaphor because it explains how professionals working above and below the waterline may clash and may find it hard to collaborate. However, if you understand the complementarity, it may help. It may look like advocating the underwater knowledge management, but both approaches are equally valuable and necessary. When a knowledge management initiatives focuses too much on data and information management, it may not have the expected effect on the (invisible) knowledge creation and innovation side.


Gordie said...

These guys seem to be a long way behind the curve in the way they talk. Writers like Drucker and Yogesh Malhotra were already pulling apart KM as document management five years ago.

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Hi Gordie, do you mean pulling KM apart from document management or as document management? I agree that idea is not new, but I like the way they explained it with the iceberg. Most people I work with haven't heard of KM, so it is a good way to explain the difference between IM/KM in my view.

MBU - Spreading Strategy said...

Just great. Yeps I have seen iceberg's example all my life, in business and in life. Congratulations for the post.
Ricardo Andorinho
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