Archive for the ‘managing intangibles’ Category

Personal Intangible Assets and Intentions

August 14, 2009

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

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Q28- Recap of KM Virtues and Gaps, or Will KM Disappear?

May 30, 2009

This Q Series had been a successful one; 16,267 hits came in since it started. We end this blog series with this summarizing post. To better appreciate an item that strikes you, I suggest reading the blog which explains that point. The blogs are accessible from this post through embedded links (which appear as colored text). While pressing “Ctrl”, you can click on the colored text to create a new tab to read the previous blog post referred to.

Virtues of KM and OL (organizational learning):

Gaps in KM and OL practice:

What we need next, a new KM or the next discipline after KM:

Q28 cartoon

We will start the new L Series on “Indigo Learning Practices” in the next blog. Stay tuned in!

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Emerging Indigo Practices

May 28, 2009

From previous blogs, I tried to show that major world problems stem from our lack of knowledge in the indigo quadrant (lower left quadrant in the diagram below):


When two long-term societal megatrends are combined, we discover (see “Q27- Combining Megatrends #1 and #2: the next societal innovations”) that the next significant societal innovations are expected in the indigo quadrant. In my contribution to the book “The Future of Innovation” (to be published by Gower in the autumn of 2009), entitled “The Future of Innovation Must Be Sought in Non-Technological Spheres” I wrote, in part:

    “Mankind has demonstrated that its ability to technologically innovate is far greater than its ability to anticipate, learn and solve the negative social consequences of those innovations…

    Innovation in the future will be driven by common threats confronting mankind. Ironically, most of those threats are man-made. Innovation will proceed in the general direction of preventing and resolving conflicts, governance at all levels, advancing human rights and human security, cross-border agreements in preventing and fighting crime and terrorism, eliminating social exclusions and other social ills that lead to poverty, generating consensus on environmental problems and solutions, and value creation.”

In the specific area of KM, this means that tools, technologies and practices for effectively managing relationship capital would be important. Below is a list of such KM tools (reproduced from a previous blog post: “Practical Hint #17: Tools for Managing Relationship Capital”):

  • Social Network Analysis (SNA), sociogram or stakeholder analysis: Maps and analyzes frequencies of communication, teammate preferences, perceived closeness of interpersonal relationships, degree of agreement/disagreement, etc. between people in a group, organization or network
  • Team building and team learning exercises
  • Setting up a cross-functional KM Team
  • Customer relations management, business development, account management, or business partnership management: Management of relationships with customers, suppliers, partners, etc.
  • Customer clubs and e-communities: strengthens a company’s communication and relationship with customers, allows customers to participate in product improvement or R&D, makes some customers feel special by receiving advanced news or product prototypes, etc.
  • “Customer ba”: Part of the task of some Japanese customer relations managers is to create an affirmative, trusting and creative “relationship space” between himself and the customer.
  • MBTI, Belvin types and other psychological profiling tests: Assessing potential for complementarity and good mix of thinking and working styles among prospective team members
  • Various tools in brand management and marketing which enhance reputation and credibility of the company
  • Various HR/OD tools to enhance employee loyalty and morale: recognitions, honors and awards; policies that allow appropriate decision-making to employees; CEOs that listen e.g. allow direct emails from employees; facilities that show the company cares e.g. day-care facilities within company premises for young children of mother-employees, etc.
  • Group exercise in mind mapping: Allows members to see and better understand the assumptions of other fellow members
  • Professional and personal profiles of staff, Expertise Directory, company White Pages: Facilitates staff in getting to know each other and each other’s skills, expertise and talents
  • Face-to-face meetings and SN functionalities among e-community or e-CoP members: Mutual trust in a virtual CoP or e-community is best nurtured through face-to-face meetings, and through appropriate social network functionalities in the website of the CoP
  • Visioning exercise: Co-creating and contributing to an organization’s vision tend to enhance buy-in and engagement of members in programs, projects and activities aimed at the vision of the organization.
  • Negotiation: collaborative/integrative negotiation training, skills development (thanks to Peter Spence), and related tools in conflict management
  • Leadership (thanks to Peter Spence): one that knows and appreciates many of the above.

Accordingly, I have decided that the next blog series will be on “Indigo Learning Practices.” We will call it the L Series.


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A Paradox of 20th Century Scientific Practice

May 23, 2009

Science as practiced in the 19th and 20th centuries lies in Quadrant 3: it is biased towards observing and studying the outer world of forms and phenomena. With few exceptions, the inner world of consciousness is either ignored, denied or regarded as not real or less real, or reduced to its empirical, behavioral or operational counterparts. Listen to these authors:

    “Values, life meanings, purposes, and qualities slip through science like sea slips through the nets of fishermen. Yet man swims in this sea, so he cannot exclude it from his purview.”

    – Huston Smith

    The “modern Western character complex is connected with a peculiar perception of all things – including psychic and mental things – as ultimately reducible to quantifiable material entities. This is what gives it its ‘outwardness’.”

    – Robert Thurman

    Science views as real “any objectifiable entity or process that could be described in valueless, empirical, monological, process it-language.” According to this “flatland” view of the cosmos, “none of the interior dimensions and modes of knowing has any substantial reality at all… The mistake of modern science is that “all interior dimensions (of I and WE) were reduced to exterior surfaces (of objective ITs)… Modern science “aggressively invaded the other value spheres – including interior consciousness, psyche, soul, spirit, value, morals, ethics and art… pronouncing on what was, and what was not, real.”

    – Ken Wilber

The foundation of scientific knowledge is the scientific method of establishing objectivity and empirical validity. Listen to these quotations, particularly the eminent Austrian expert in the philosophy of science Karl Popper:

    Objectivity is based on “eliciting intersubjective agreement.”

    – Huston Smith

    “Ultimate truth, if there be such a thing, demands the concert of many voices.”

    – Carl Jung

    “…the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested.”

    — Karl Popper

Current scientific practice is objective and outward in orientation, yet the very foundation of scientific validity is inter-subjective corroboration. Scientists in the 19th and 20th centuries prefer to define reality in terms of Quadrant 3, yet the fundamental basis of their method of validation is inter-subjective processes in Quadrant 4. Objectivity depends on inter-subjective invariance. Intersubjectivity is at the foundation of objectivity!

This paradoxical blind spot in modern science will fade away if science evolves to also embrace Quadrant 4 or what I call “indigo practices”. The indicators that this may have started to happen are:

  • The growth of humanistic and transpersonal psychology;
  • The emergence of experiential-phenomenological methods of anthropology (e.g. the early works of Carlos Castaneda);
  • Interest in paranormal studies;
  • Emergence of organizational learning and specifically the practice of team learning and dialogue;
  • The emergence of management of knowledge and other intangible assets;
  • The convergence between modern science and religion exemplified by the Mind and Life Institute mentioned in a previous blog.

These events are all part of global Megatrend #1: towards Yin. An interesting convergence that is worth watching is that between transpersonal psychology (Quadrant 3 science moving towards Quadrant 4) and Tibetan Buddhism (the only major religion that straddles Quadrants 1 and 4).

If mainstream scientific practice has been outward-looking, then its inward-looking mirror-image is Tibetan Buddhism. While modern science has developed empiricism (which is consensual corroboration using outward-looking data) for over 3 centuries to its present height, Tibetan Buddhism is unique in having developed the practice of consensual corroboration using inward-looking or experiential data gathered by thousands of monk-practitioners (lamas) for over 12 centuries. Quoting Thurman again:

    “In Western culture, the last frontiers of our material conquest of the universe are in outer space. Our astronauts are our ultimate heroes and heroines. Tibetans, however, are more concerned about the spiritual conquest of the inner universe, whose frontiers are in the realms of death, the between, and contemplative ecstasies. So, the Tibetan lamas who can consciously pass through the dissolution process, whose minds can detach from the gross physical body and use a magical body to travel to other universes, these ‘psychonauts’ are the Tibetans’ ultimate heroes and heroines.”

experiencing outer vs inner universe

The above critique of prevailing scientific practice is part of a paper I wrote in 2004 entitled “Patotoo: an Indigenous Concept of Validity and Some Implications” which was published in 2005 by the Institute of Spirituality in Asia as part of the book “Hiyang: Papers of the Colloquium on Research Methodologies in the Study of Spiritualities in the Philippines.” If you want to receive a copy of this paper, please email me (

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Evolving Forms of Governance

May 20, 2009

As I type these words I am enjoying the view of Kowloon across the Hong Kong harbour. Beyond Kowloon I can see the distant mountains in the New Territories. Somewhat to my left are the mountains of Hong Kong Island. I can see the moon-shaped Peak Tower on Victoria Peak over the high-rise buildings in Causeway Bay.

Panoramic views from a high place always bring me to a quiet space within me. Very early this morning, in the twilight zone between sleeping and waking, I again experienced an in-flow of new ideas — a process that happens to me countless times before. I am not sure exactly how the process takes place. After I receive them, my mind then shapes and clothes them into words, paragraphs and figures. Today the ideas came at the right time so that they can find their way into this blog. The middle three diagrams below are explicit rendering of the ideas that came to me this morning.

Following the long-term evolutionary framework in the last blog (see “Q27- Combining Megatrends #1 and #2: the Next Societal Innovations?”), we can see that forms of governance have been evolving also according to the two megatrends (the 3×3 diagram below was first presented to the Futuristics in Education course for Malaysian senior education officers last August 23, 2005 at SEAMEO INNOTECH). Glocality and counter-glocality were discussed in the previous blog on “More Power to Glocals!”

governance 1

The great American democratic experiment can be viewed as a steady movement towards the lower left or indigo quadrant, the direction of the two megatrends (see previous blog). It remains to be seen how it will further evolve in the next centuries.

governance 2

Tibetan Buddhism was never a centralized and doctrinaire religion from the beginning; it has been an independent experiential and learning-oriented practice among generations after generations of lamas or monks across Tibet, Mongolia and elsewhere.

Potala Palace (photo credits to Wikimedia Commons)

Potala Palace (photo credits to Wikimedia Commons)

The political loss of Tibet to the Peoples Republic of China led to the farther spread of Tibetan Buddhism as a personal practice across the globe; from our framework, this is movement towards the indigo quadrant. What has happened is consistent with what Padma Sambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, prophesied 1200 years ago that the Tibetan people “will be scattered like ants across the face of the Earth.”

governance 3

However, we see from our framework that the evolution of Christianity was regressive from Pentecost up to the Middle Ages, and then it reversed back towards the indigo quadrant starting with the Protestant Reformation and continuing with Vatican II reforms.

governance 4

The modern corporation is also evolving (see my blog on “From corporate disregard to corporate embrace of stakeholder capital to socially-embedded corporations”). The advent of knowledge management, organizational learning/presencing, corporate social responsibility or CSR practices, the power shift (see Alvin Toffler and Daniel Bell) to knowledge workers/enterprises and a “flatter world” according to Thomas Friedman, are forces that tend to push the modern corporate practice towards the indigo quadrant.

governance 5

What do you think?

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Q27- Combining Megatrends #1 and #2: the Next Societal Innovations?

May 18, 2009

I introduced trans-societal Megatrend #1 in an earlier blog (“Q14- Naming Trans-Societal Megatrend #1: towards Yin?”). I summarized Megatrend #1 (see blog “KM and trans-societal megatrend #1”) as:


Trans-societal Megatrend #2 (introduced in blog Q26- Information: another Force for Democratization) can be summarized as:

Megatrend #2

If we combine these two megatrends and again use Ken Wilber’s framework, we have a new way of characterizing major societal innovations and anticipating where the next major societal innovations would be emerging:

Combining 2 megatrends

Do you agree with the following observations?

  1. The combined trend is towards the lower left or indigo-colored Quadrant 4 in the figure above. Using simplistic language, the trend is towards the democratization of religions (Quadrant 1 to 4) and the spiritualization of democracy, free markets and science (Quadrant 3 to 4).
  2. There is a mega-tension between Quadrants 1 and 3 which can be seen in the conflict between Western democratic values versus Islamic fundamentalism and theocracy (which underlies the events in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorist attacks in Europe and North America, and tension between European cultures and cultures of Muslim immigrants in Europe), the conflict between scientific empiricism and religious faith (seen in Matthew Fox’s creation spirituality versus traditional Catholic doctrines, Darwinian evolution versus creationism from Genesis), and the conflict between laissez faire capitalism and various economic models that emphasize the humanistic, psychological and spiritual dimensions (such as “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” by Schumacher, Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s “Gross National Happiness”).
  3. Regressive forces are represented by those groups which aim to maintain or go back to communism, dictatorship, theocracy, monopolistic control of national economies, etc.
  4. New practices are emerging in Quadrant 4, which I call “indigo practices.” I will write about this in another blog. The interactive practice in double-loop learning that I am proposing in the last blog (An Invitation to Interactive Practice of Double-Loop Learning) is an indigo practice.
  5. A most interesting convergence between Quadrants 1 and 3 is happening between Tibetan Buddhism and modern science: the Mind and Life Institute. Tibetan Buddhism comes from centuries of learning, experiential studies and applying consensual corroboration in the inner worlds; while modern sciences comes from centuries of learning, empirical studies and applying consensual corroboration in the outer worlds.

interesting convergence

I introduced the ideas in this blog in an earlier paper on “Information Technology and Security in the 21st Century” which I read at the Asia-Pacific Security Forum Conference in Taipei, Taiwan in December 1999.

Please tell us what you think about these.

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Appreciating Nonaka’s SECI Model (#23)

May 13, 2009

Let us review the four critical tasks of a learning organization (numbers 1-4 refer to the figure below):

  1. Build those tacit knowledge in workers that contribute most to value creation;
  2. Convert useful tacit knowledge into explicit forms that are easier to reproduce, replicate and reuse; this explicit knowledge is collected in an organized fashion into a knowledge repository or Organizational Brain;
  3. Provide the right explicit knowledge to be reused or practiced by the right knowledge workers; if substantial volumes of explicit knowledge have been collected, it becomes possible to recombine, digest, analyze, correlate and otherwise “mine” the collection to generate new insights and conclusions that are actionable;
  4. Procure needed expertise or knowledge from outside.

4 critical tasks in a learning organization

The tasks revolve around the green quadrant because (a) it is the quadrant where most value creation takes place, and (b) most of the knowledge in an organization is located in the green quadrant.

According to Laura Birou, only 10-20 percent of an organization’s knowledge is explicit. Robert H. Buckman of Buckman Laboratories estimates this fraction at only 10 percent. William H. Baker Jr. estimates it at 20 percent. Furthermore, not all of this explicit knowledge is captured in the organizations’ IT-based information systems. What IT does well is facilitate the replication and transmission of explicit knowledge so that more knowledge workers can use/practice them, convert them to their tacit knowledge, and create value for the organization.

Notice that the well-known SECI model of Nonaka addresses all four critical tasks of a learning organization:

  1. Socialization: tacit-to-tacit knowledge transfer from expert to learner
  2. Externalization: conversion to explicit group knowledge
  3. Combination: combining new explicit knowledge with other existing explict knowledge
  4. Internalization: conversion back to individual tacit knowledge

Nonaka SECI model

The SECI model is not the only mix of knowledge pathways that performs the four critical tasks. In the previous blog post, notice that the Case Study 3 organization also addresses all four critical tasks of a learning organization. The mixes of knowledge pathways do vary from organization to organization.

In Case Study 3, the explicit group knowledge is in the form of a Learning-Oriented Systems Manual (=organizational brain), which at this point in time is not yet web-based. This illustrates the fact that although information technology can be an excellent enabler, it is not an absolute necessity for a learning organization.

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free counters

Knowledge Pathways in a Learning Organization (#21)

May 9, 2009

I wrote in the previous blog about the “Organizational Brain” (lower right or yellow quadrant in the diagram below). The Organizational Brain is a superb instrument for storing, providing, replicating and leveraging explicit knowledge but explicit knowledge by itself cannot create value. Information just sitting in a database does not create value. It is only when PEOPLE apply knowledge that value can be created (upper left or green quadrant in the diagram).

K pathways in OL

There are few exceptions. In a fully robotized factory, technology (~explicit knowledge), almost by itself, creates value. I said “almost” because there will always be humans overseeing the factory. Even in highly automated systems such as Ultra-Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs), about two dozen crew members are needed to manage its sophisticated technological systems.

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

Value may be created from explicit knowledge such as when a company sells the patents, copyrights, tools, software and formulas it had internally developed. Of course, the original source of this explicit knowledge is the tacit knowledge of the employees who developed them.

In short, the main creators of value are PEOPLE: individuals and teams using their tacit knowledge: this is a central tenet in the knowledge economy. In the diagram below, these are located in the left quadrants, particularly the green quadrant. Structural capital and technology (right quadrants) are only supportive. Note that the diagram is again based on Ken Wilber’s framework. You can go back to the following blogs to read about Ken Wilber’s framework: (click on any link)

There are four critical tasks facing a Learning Organization:

    Task 1: Enhance employees’ tacit knowledge (green quadrant) especially those that create most value for the organization.

    Task 2: Convert useful individual tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge — the form easily replicable and re-usable by more people in the organization (conversion from green to yellow quadrant using Pathways 2, 3 or 4).

    Task 3: Facilitate re-use or practice of the right explicit knowledge by the right people (conversion back to green quadrant). Pathway 6 does this. Through practice explicit knowledge is converted into the practitioner’s own tacit knowledge (see “D4- Converting Tacit to Explicit Knowledge and vice-versa”). Some organizations analyze, recombine, correlate and mine their Organizational Brain into more useful forms (Pathway 5).

    Task 4: Acquire needed knowledge from outside (Pathways 7-10 in the diagram below)

Sourcing K from outside

Some KM tools for Task 1 are:

  • Pathway 1 or replication of individual tacit knowledge: Mentoring, coaching, understudy, buddy system, lecture-demonstration, peer assist, cross-visits, knowledge sharing among a community of practitioners. Some of these KM tools tend to lie “outside the radar” of HR practitioners because the HRD framework looks at the individual employee as the unit of management, while the KM framework is based on managing value-creating knowledge across employees.
  • Various tools to enhance employee motivation and engagement; our empirical findings at CCLFI reveal the importance of motivational factors (see: “A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers” and “Practical Exercise: Ingredients of Effective Group Action”)

Some KM tools for Task 2 (individual tacit knowledge to group explicit knowledge) are:

  • Pathway 2 (the predominant knowledge pathway for Task 2): Manualization, process documentation, learning history, individual mind mapping, blog, surveys and questionnaires.
  • Pathway 3: Lessons-learned session, after-action review, wiki or collaborative authoring, group exercises for thinking together such as mind mapping, causal flow diagramming, fishbone diagramming, etc.
  • Pathway 4: Video capture of story telling, company visioning exercise accompanied by documentation, minutes or aide memoire of a meeting and conceptual design brainstorming among architects

Some KM tools for Task 3 are:

  • Pathway 5 or recombination: Data mining, performance metrics followed by identification and study of best practitioner, multiple regression or path analysis to detect causal linkages and contributions, statistical summaries and fitting trend lines to data.
  • Pathway 6 or group explicit knowledge converted to individual tacit knowledge in many: Practicum, learning-by-doing, on-the-job training, workplace-oriented mentoring, action research, R&D, experimentation and replication/adaptation of best practice.

We know that the usual means for Task 4 are: purchase of knowledge products, hiring new employees, buying a franchise to quickly use a ready product and its support network, engaging a consultant, copying from the public domain, business intelligence procedures, etc.

I have written about these knowledge pathways in Section 3.5 of 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.

See also: “Knowledge pathways: 3 case studies” and “Appreciating Nonaka’s SECI model”.

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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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KM and Trans-Societal Megatrend #1

May 5, 2009

Trans-societal Megatrend #1 (see Q14- Naming trans-societal Megatrend #1: “towards yin”?) can be viewed from Ken Wilber’s framework, as in the following diagram.


When we were looking at “Tacit-Group Processes in KM” and “Gaia Consciousness”, we were in fact using Ken Wilber’s framework:

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

When we were examining the global balance sheet of tangible and intangible assets (see “Towards a Global Balance Sheet”), we were also using Ken Wilber’s framework:


In fact, the expanded KM framework (see “Practical Exercise: Ingredients of Effective Group Action #15”) emerged from the simple observation that answers to “What are the ingredients of effective group action?” can be grouped in a way from where the commonly-accepted categories of intellectual capital or knowledge assets naturally emerge! Surprisingly, the grouping is consistent with Ken Wilber’s framework.


Which falls neatly into the categories of intellectual capital:


Now, what we are observing (see Q14- Naming trans-societal Megatrend #1: “towards yin”?) is that there is a global megatrend running across many sectors of society: corporate wealth creation, global economy, community development, educational psychology, national development, national security, attitudes to environment, psychology, international conflicts, religion and organizational dynamics. In other words, the megatrend is trans-societal. It can be summarized as:


What do you think?

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