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The DIKW model for Knowledge Management

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Following on from last week’s article about the advantages of Knowledge Management and how to get started, let’s look at the process in more detail. When I’m running ITIL foundation courses I generally hit Knowledge Management as part of the Service Transition stage of the lifecycle towards the end of day 2. Put yourselves in the shoes of the poor delegate for a second and think after 2 solid days learning about 20 odd processes and 4 functions even the brightest person in the room is starting to get a bit tired of all the terminology. To try and fix that; here’s my handy guide to Data Information Knowledge and Wisdom aka the Dick Whittington model for Knowledge Management.

DIKW

Data

First up we have Data. No, not the character from Star Trek TNG (although – spoiler alert – I’m still heartbroken by the ending of Nemesis) but the facts and figures which relay something specific. ITIL describes data as a discrete series of facts about events. When we talk about data; it’s raw in format, not organised in any way and providing no further information regarding patterns, structure or context. Data represents singular facts or numbers but by themselves, data items have little meaning.

The key Knowledge Management activities include:

  • Capturing accurate data
  • Reviewing data and adding context so that it can be transformed into information
  • Ensuring only relevant data that adds value is being captured as lets face it, anything else is just noise.

Information

Data becomes Information when it can be viewed in a specific context. According to ITIL, for data to become information it must be contextualised, categorised, calculated and condensed. If data is a series of facts, information is generally stored in some sort of structure for example, e-mails, documents or spreadsheets.

The key Knowledge Management process around information is managing the content in a way that adds value. In other words, ensuing information is easy to capture, query, find, reuse and re learn from experiences so we don’t keep making the same mistakes and duplication is reduced.

Knowledge

For information to become knowledge it must be processed organised or structured in some way, or else as being applied or put into action. Knowledge combines information with experience and can be used as a basis for decision-making or taking an action. Knowledge is made up of the experiences, ideas, insights, values and judgements of your people. When we introducing formal Knowledge Management; creating the right culture is absolutely critical so that people feel comfortable adding to Knowledge Bases and articles ensuring the right knowledge is captured. Done well, Knowledge Management will engage and up skill your people so it really is worth focusing on.

Wisdom

Wisdom is the trickiest stage to explain. ITIL defines wisdom as being the ultimate discernment of the material and having the application and contextual awareness to provide a strong, common sense judgement. I’ve been in IT long enough to realise that you can’t teach common sense but by having the right training and support in place goes a long way to avoid a herding cats situation.

My favourite way of explaining Wisdom to ITIL foundation delegates is this example from Irish legend Paul Howard (author of the Ross O’Carroll Kelly books)

In all seriousness though, by applying Wisdom, you have the ability to increase effectiveness. It’s the value add based on being able to improve accuracy, drive efficiency and support CSI.

So that’s the basics to the Data Information Knowledge Wisdom model, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

 

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