The most important step in the knowledge cycle (“knowledge value chain” is a better term) is the last step — the use or application of knowledge. It is the most important step because this is when value is created. This is the step which justifies (and pays for the costs of) all other previous steps.
Sourcing or acquiring knowledge should not be the first step of the knowledge value chain. The manager must first be clear why or what for he wants to start the chain. The first step in the chain is what I call “internal/external sensing” — or knowing in what direction the organization is and should be moving in relation to its internal and external contexts. In this first step the manager establishes the purpose or intended use of the knowledge he wants to acquire.
Sourcing knowledge can mean many things: hiring/training people, buying/renting technology, documenting tacit knowledge, brainstorming or generative dialogue in a group, learning from action, creating/innovating new knowledge, etc. In general, all these can be divided into two categories: capturing knowledge that is already existing somewhere, and culturing or creating new knowledge.