Sometimes it’s our lack of knowledge, that when put into a new framework, becomes knowledge that is real. And valuable. And lasting. And most beneficial to Self and others in our communities of practice.
Other times it’s in our failures that knowledge emerges as motivation and the needed realization that what matters most is progress, not perfection.
Knowledge can be painful. Knowledge can arrive unexpectedly. Knowledge can be a gift from our colleagues and our friends.
Knowledge managers are characteristically good at taking a step back to examine the big picture. And although the semester is not yet over, this Thanksgiving weekend I took a step back and realized that the knowledge I’ve gained over the last 16 weeks came to me in spoonfuls I didn’t expect. It wasn’t book knowledge or concept knowledge or technical knowledge. It had been disguised. Disguised as worry over deadlines; frustration over Dreamweaver; obsession over achievement.
This semester the knowledge I gained and which will be of MOST value in the “real” world is the awareness of our self-inflicted expectations, which can become counter-productive, even paralyzing… personally and in groups and organizations. Knowledge Management is a discipline about learning organizations and organizational learning. (Thank you Dr. Hawamdeh, Peter Kline, and Bernard Saunders). It’s full of philosophical, psychological, yet practical frameworks and mental models aimed at optimizing long-term productivity.
It might not be reflected in projects, papers, or grades; however, after this semester, I’m older and wiser.
To truly “communicate”, there must be shared meaning… And sometimes that means clarification… And to get there, one often needs to ask questions.
Checking in with our philosophers from the School of Athens, today I turn to Socrates, whose pupils included Artistotle and Plato. According to changing minds.org, “Socrates was one of the greatest educators who taught by asking questions and thus drawing out (as ‘ex duco’, meaning to ‘lead out’, which is the root of ‘education’) answers from his pupils.” I simply can’t do a better job of explaining the Socratic way of questioning than changingminds.org , so please go there now(!) to see a sampling of the six types of questions that Socrates asked his pupils. (By the way, my first dog was a black cocker named Socrates.)
Where did the word “communication” come from? And if our illustrious philosophers could talk to us from the painting above, what would they say? It has been speculated that the field of communication studies grew from the rhetorical study of speech and speakers, a study that stretches back to the days of Plato and Aristotle.
According to the
Imagine Plato and Aristotle on the steps of the Athens Knowledge Café. They invite Socrates and Euclid to join them inside for a mocha chino and a little bit of knowledge sharing. From the School of Athens to the School of Knowledge Management… just how has the knowledge of ancient philosophers and scientists come to rest in our hands? Through communication!
This, then, is the goal of this blog: to define and discuss how we can best utilize “communication” to share our thoughts, ideas, methods, emotions, and information from one to another.
The fresco painting above is indeed entitled “School of Athens” and can be found among the Raphael rooms at the Vatican Museum in Rome. (Starbucks coffee is not allowed in the galleries.) I had the chance to revisit this masterpiece while I was on holiday following the ICKM 2007 in Vienna.
While studying it I was reminded that the image offers a great metaphor for an important part of knowledge management (KM), namely knowledge sharing or more simply put–effective communication.
To learn about the amazing correlation between Raphael’s “School of Athens” and KM, visit artcyclopedia.