Archive for May 7th, 2009

Four Types of Memory

May 7, 2009


Ken Wilber pointed out that there are four fundamentally distinct types of knowledge, which he calls the “Four Faces of Truth”. Based on his framework (see previous blog on “KM and Trans-Societal Megatrend #1 and “Tacit-Group Processes in KM”), we therefore see four types of memory:


Transactive memory is what a team informally develops among themselves after working closely together over time. The team informally develops a group tacit knowledge of “who knows what,” “who knows who,” “who does what best,” “who cannot do what,” “how team member A thinks,” etc. This transactive memory is lost to a team member who leaves and joins a new team.

Collective unconscious is Carl Jung’s term to refer to the accumulated experiences and memories of mankind. The collective “national pain body” and “racial pain body,” according to Eckhart Tolle, are accumulated memories of violence and suffering that underlie the consciousness and behavior of a group.

I have written about the “Organizational Brain” in my Overview chapter in the book “Knowledge Management in Asia: Experience and Lessons” published in 2008 by the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan. If you wish to receive a copy of this chapter, send me an email. In this book I used the descriptors “embodied knowledge,” “embedded knowledge” and introduced the new term “enculturated knowledge” for human capital, structural capital and relationship capital, respectively. In parallel, we can use the descriptors “embodied memory,” “embedded memory,” and “enculturated memory.”


In the next blog, I will use Ken Wilber’s framework to delineate important knowledge pathways in a learning organization, and provide a way to understand the specific knowledge pathway called the SECI model of Nonaka.

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