Among KM practitioners, the word “knowledge” has a very specific meaning, namely, “capacity for effective action” (see previous blog posts “F5- A Proposed KM Framework” and “Practical Exercise #15: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”).
I wrote a paper entitled “Organisational energy and other meta-learning from case studies of knowledge management implementation in nine Asian countries”. It will be published soon by Routlege in the next issue of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. In this paper, I reviewed 22 KM case studies from Asian countries and 21 KM case studies from the Philippines, and I concluded that effective action is the result of two factors: knowledge assets and “organizational energy“. I defined the latter term as motivational, intentional, relational and related factors that determine effective group action. A knowledge worker must “know” how to do a job well, AND he/she must be “willing or wanting” to do it. See blog post: “Q23- Know-how (=Knowledge) without “Willing-to.” Organizational energy is a part of an organization’s capacity to create value. Organizational energy is part of its intangible assets.
KM practitioners know that KM to be successful must be accompanied by one form or another of “change management” (click “Change Management Must Accompany KM” in the CCLFI opening page). If you examine the repertoire of a change management expert, you will conclude that all change management interventions aim to enhance organizational energy — it seeks, enhances, encourages, builds upon or enables “willingness” of employees to perform the desired actions. (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers”)
Therefore, to optimize person-to-person communication for either creation or transfer of knowledge, organizational energy must be managed, including paying attention to the intention behind our communication acts.
Let me share an insight about personal intangible assets.
I blogged about people who had experienced looking at death face-to-face, and surviving from that experience. The experience leaves them with a heightened appreciation of life. They listen to, engage with, and live life more fully. The experience also results in a valuable learning, namely, that when your time is up, we leave behind many things that we thought we “own”. Think about this: when you or I cross the threshold to death, we leave behind:
- Our tangible assets: properties like house and land, financial wealth, explicit knowledge, equipment and technologies (you can’t bring your laptop with you!);
- Our physical body and its physical or biological life;
- Our academic, professional and social credentials and positions.
I had assumed that religious beliefs cannot be scientifically scrutinized. I realized I could be wrong after I read books such as Dr. Raymond Moody’s popular book “Life After Life”. Since that time, much research in transpersonal psychology had grown. This subfield is not yet recognized by the American Psychological Association, but a couple of universities had started to offer doctoral programs in transpersonal psychology.
Thanks to this new field of research, we are beginning to see new insights about life and learning.
Dr. Moody is a physician in Pennsylvania who noted that patients who unexplainably regained consciousness hours after having been pronounced clinically dead (“spontaneous revival”) almost always have a story to tell about their “in-between” experience. The fact that some people can regain full consciousness and bodily functions hours after the brain had been deprived of oxygen is itself a medical mystery. But Dr. Moody’s interest was elsewhere: in those stories. The stories seem to exhibit similarities. Listening to the stories, it appears that the “in-between” experiences were often life-transforming for those patients. His interest grew and he sought and collected more stories from other hospitals. Eventually he published the case studies in book form in 1978.
The similarities he observed across many stories were as follows. Patients recall:
- Passing through and eventually emerging from a dark tunnel to a place of light;
- Meeting or being met by relatives and friends who had died before;
- Reviewing their life in a split second — as if watching a super fast movie;
- Having someone beside them during the life review, whose demeanour is kind and non-judgmental (the identity of this “someone” varies according to the religious belief of the patient);
- This “someone” asks basically two questions during the life review: Q1: What have you learned? Q2: Whom have you helped or loved?;
- Then the patient “returns” back to life.
Dr. Moody was intrigued by the similarities because the patients who told their stories were unknown to one another (and therefore they could not have secretly conspired to tell similar stories). In fact many patients regard their experience with so much significance and respect that some hesitate at first to reveal their experiences.
Did you notice that Q1 is about (using KM language) gain in human capital while Q2 is about gain in relationship capital? The indications from Dr. Moody’s studies are: we do leave behind all our tangible assets; these are NOT ours, at least not in any permanent way. But our intangible assets do stay with us! They are really OUR assets.
Findings from transpersonal psychology, and knowledge accumulated by those who practice what we can call experiential technologies (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism; see my previous blog post “A Paradox of 20th Century Scientific Practice”), indicate that we can bring with us:
- Our intangible assets: tacit knowledge, lessons learned, relationships;
- Our capability to be consciously aware and to make decisions, choices or intentions.
The book I am reading now is Stephen Levine’s “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last.” I am happy to learn that many of the skills and tools in conscious living (and in “Indigo Learning Practices” in this blog series) we have been practicing and developing at CCLFI, are useful not only for personal KM and organizational learning, but also for fearlessly and smoothly crossing the threshold to death.
We saw in previous blog posts that intangible assets are more important than tangible assets in: (a) GWP and the global economy, (b) in corporations, and (c) in development of poor communities. And now we see that intangible assets are also fundamentally important at the personal level.
“It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can [buy] the husk of everything, but not the kernel.” – Arne Garborg, Norwegian writer and reformist
Note that there are embedded links in this blog post. They show up as colored text. While pressing “Ctrl” click on any link to create a new tab to reach the webpages pointed to. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the use of the image in this blog post.