David Skyrme Associates


Cumulative Contents

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No. 13: September/October 1997


CKOs (Chief Knowledge Officers) - Do You Need Them?
China - Technology Horizon Map (Jin Zhouying, CTISS)
Telework97 Report - Telework enters the 3rd Generation (the networked business)
From Natural Harmony to Information Chaos: Some Personal Reflections
Readers Reply:
Y2000: The Last Great Learning Opportunity (Andrew Braee)
The Geometry of Knowledge (Ted Lumley)
Knowledge Management Events


Welcome to this belated issue of I3 UPDATE, a free briefing analysing developments in the networked knowledge economy. We missed our planned September slot owing to a classic example of lack of customer service (see From Natural Harmony to Information Chaos: Some Personal Reflections. The backlog of articles and contributions means that the email version was more abbreviated than usual. This Web version contains the full articles and email letters.

On the administration page you will find important information about leaving and joining the distribution list. We hope you enjoy this UPDATE, and welcome comments, contributions and feedback at david@skyrme.com.

David J. Skyrme
Managing Editor

Chief Knowledge Officers (CKOs)
Do You Need Them?

David J. Skyrme

A Chief Knowledge Officer is a senior executive who is responsible for ensuring that an organization maximises the value it achieves through one of its most important assets knowledge. Although only a few companies have people with this explicit title, their number is growing, as are those with similar titles such as Director of Intellectual Capital, Director of Innovation. Note - a CKO is not simply a relabelling of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) or MIS Directors. The role of a CKO is broader and different. So what is the answer to the question: "Do you need a CKO?"

Some people, like Chris Cooper, Chief Knowledge Officer of Coopers and Lybrand Management Consulting argue in favour, saying that with the growing importance of knowledge "the CKO role will remain as necessary as those of the CEO, CFO and CIO". On the other hand, Jerry Ash in a survey of companies that have knowledge initiatives (reported in Knowledge Inc. Vol 8, No. 2) found many were run by knowledge champions who were 'mid-level managers'.

Research Findings

Our research for the report 'Creating the Knowledge-based Business' showed that Knowledge Leadership was more important than a CKO per se. Situations where a CKO is useful to an organisation are where and organisation seeks to:

  1. Maximise the returns on their investment in knowledge - people, processes and intellectual capital
  2. Exploit intangible assets e.g. know-how, patents, customer relationships
  3. Repeat past successes and share best practices
  4. Improve their innovation - the commercialization of ideas
  5. Avoid knowledge loss and leakage after organizational restructuring

Situations where a CKO might not be needed are where:

  1. Knowledge is not important to the business (but 92 per cent in a recent survey said they were in a knowledge intensive business
  2. You are content to leave it to local initiatives and hope it comes good
  3. A culture of knowledge sharing pervades and systematic processes are in place
  4. Knowledge leadership comes from the top and is passionately pursued
  5. Everybody has development of knowledge in their job plans
  6. Your performance monitoring system explicitly has a knowledge dimension.

What was found in the joint Business Intelligence/Ernst &Young survey (chapter 2 of our report) was that 24.8 per cent of respondents thought that appointment of a CKO would be very or extremely valuable.

However, our analysis indicates that to succeed in exploiting your knowledge you do need vision, initiative, enthusiasm and evangelism around a coherent framework. And for this you do need Knowledge Leaders, wherever they happen to be in an organization who will:

  • Develop an overall framework that guides knowledge management activities
  • Actively promulgate the knowledge agenda within and beyond the company
  • Oversee the development of the knowledge infrastructure - both 'hard' and 'soft' components
  • Facilitate connections, coordination and communications.

After reviewing our research Britton Manasco, editor of Knowledge Inc. summarises the situation as follows (Knowledge Inc. Vol 2, No. 7, page 12):

"The knowledge leader - or leaders - must become a vital and dynamic force in the organization rather than the figurehead(s) of yet another corporate change program. Eventually leadership must become dispersed and accountability for the success of knowledge initiatives widely held. As I see it, the CKO will have achieved real success when his or her position is no longer necessary."

What Should You Do?

If you don't yet have a CKO or obvious knowledge champions, we suggest the following:

  1. Think about what knowledge is crucial to your business success
  2. Who has this knowledge? How quickly can key personnel access it?
  3. Assess how well you manage, develop and exploit this knowledge
  4. Consider who is responsible for maximising its value to the business
  5. Task a person or team to provide a framework for action.

If you don't, you may find that you cannot compete effectively with those companies who demonstrate knowledge leadership and can consistently offer better products and services to their customers.

China - Technology Horizon Map

Jin Zhouying, Peter P. Yim, Robert Johansen

[Editor's Note - This is an edited synopsis of a paper written in March 1997 by the above authors. This is not the full original paper. We thank ENTOVATION colleague Jin Zhouying for this contribution].

Since the policy of open door and reformation, China has experienced 18 years of economic development in high speed, which makes China as one of the most vigorous countries and biggest emerging market in the world. Today, China has formed a technological system typified by information technology, biotechnology, automation technology, new materials, energy and aerospace technology, etc. as well as established a scientists groups, which are paving the way to high-tech developments in 21st century China. This summary examines what are the main driving forces behind this technology development and which factors will play important roles in the high tech development of China.

Technological Progress

Study of the world view of technological progress shows that could see that it has happened in both an evolutionary way and in spurts. Innovation has come from the combination and integration across sciences, cross-subject, borderline subjects and various technologies that have produced new technologies. Rapid scientific and technology development and more diversity of market demands, has shortened the technology revolution cycle. Therefore, analyses of world development trends combined with understanding the development strategies of our own enterprises, and the opportunities and risks, is very helpful for developing long-term strategy.

The Technology Horizon Map

The authors have developed a Technology Horizon Map that portrays the influential factors and relationships that affect technology development. A 1996 map by IFTF took micro-processors and computers in 1980s, laser and information in the 1990s, and sensing technology in 2000 as the time background, to derive an elliptic technology map -- the "Technology Egg". At CTISS this has been developed to also consider the interaction between technology and economy, society, environment and resources. The egg is now a "wheel". The map now consists of three layers:

  • Layer 1: The Technology-Market Wheel of four sets of key spokes (the drivers) - Knowledge, New Technologies, Enterprises and Market.
  • Layer 2: The Society Field - the implications of society, culture/education, environment on technology.
  • Layer 3: The effects of technology development on the economy, society and environment.

The wheel moves forward according to certain influences. The strength of drivers and interactions - the spokes - affect the behaviour over time. For example, the strength of social factors affects the rolling speed of the technology wheel, while the technology-market interaction affects the lengths of the spokes, and hence the wheel's overall stability.

The technology wheel is supported by two crossing sustaining spokes - a technology sustaining spoke and a market sustaining spoke. The two ends of the market sustaining spoke are called Enterprises Spoke and Market Spoke. Since enterprises have close relations with the market, so China's backward technology has a direct relationship with it. The two ends of the Technology Sustaining Spoke are Knowledge Spoke and New Technology Spoke. Because knowledge is the resources and basis of technology, the capacity of possessing knowledge, developing knowledge and applying knowledge will resolve the nation's developing speed of economy and technology. It is thus clear that technology and market seem to be the two wheels of technology development, none of them can be neglected. And if any one is weak, it will influence the speed of the technology wheel.

Yin and Yang Circle

The technical wheel is a Yin and Yang circle. It describes the balance of the Chinese dual system and the law of the unity of opposites. It also illustrates that the drive force of technology development should be divided into two. Simultaneously, drivers and restrictions can be transformed under certain conditions . After analyzing these opposites, we should be able to add to our advantages, avoid mistakes and try to turn restrictions into drive forces. This has special relevance for China. For example, China's traditions have a dual influence in developing modernization and promoting technology transfer.

Information Technology

Applying the technology wheel using information technology as an example, the main spokes are:

  • New Technology - Information infrastructure, information systems in Chinese language, applications, new telecommunications (broad band, wireless, etc.), Intranet etc.
  • Enterprises - Entrepreneurs, economic development, joint ventures, investment, intellectual property rights
  • Knowledge - Attitude towards sharing, laws, values, ideology, special client demands etc.
  • Market - clients, simple interfaces; computer, communication, television integration, Internet, interactive multimedia, language and graphics processing technology.

These spokes are the four key drivers that influence information technology development most in the next 5 - 10 years in China. Analysis of the other wheels shows that each has their own characteristics. Thus, social, cultural and environmental factors can present barriers that are much more serious than those arising from the status of fundamental research, applications and manufacturing technologies.

Information Systems in China

The development and applications of information system in the Chinese language (with over 30,000 ideographs, of which 13,000 are considered basic for everyday word processing needs) are critical factors for entering into the information society for 1.2 billion people. Mapping 13,000 characters onto a keyboard with, say, 101 keys has captured the imagination of many a computer scientists or linguist! Chinese phonetics, OCR (Optical Characters Recognition ), machine translation technology , artificial intelligence input method and technology of proof checking are important tasks to address. The Chinese laser paging system created by 'Founder' of Beijing University is a good example. Systems for agricultural information, education and training, air traffic control, water resources management and CIMS are all important for pushing forward economic and social development in China.

National Infrastructure

China's State Council has set up a group to oversee the speed up and construction of the National Information Infrastructure. The telecommunication network, computer network and the Internet are progressing rapidly. For example, there are 22 main optical cable routes with a total length of 100,000 kilometres (expected to be 200,000 by the year 2000). Since 1996 there has been an under sea optical link to Korea. The digital network reaches into 1000 localities and is accessed by over 80,000 families. The use of mobile telecommunications is doubling every year - there were over 3.6 million subscribers of cellular mobile phones in 1995, second in number only to the USA. This is expected to grow to 18 million by 2000 and 60 million by 2010. There are more than 100 companies who run businesses for connecting to the Internet and a similar number who offer Internet information services.

Economic Development and Enterprise

Since the 'open door and reform' policy, the average annual increase in GDP has been 9.9 per cent (from 1978 to 1995). Economic reform has seen the emergence of a large number of entrepreneurs, many with science and technology backgrounds. By 1995 over 97,000 non-state-owned technological enterprises had been created, about 70 per cent of them in high-tech development zones all over China. They are usually full of energy and integrate research, production and industrialization.

Foreign investment and joint ventures are another important feature of economic development. Today China is one of the most vigorous economies in the world. Up to the end of 1996, there were more than 280,000 foreign investments, amounting to USD170 billion and the amount of export trade they generate is about one third of China's total exports. About 200 companies out of the 'Fortune 500' have investments in China.

Knowledge Sharing

Attitudes towards sharing are important to the development of high-tech businesses, because the Internet culture is a sharing culture and groupware computing's effectiveness is positively correlated to the extent of information shared. But classically, the Chinese have actually been extremely careful in guarding family knowledge and wisdom as secrets within the family. This attitude affects the 'knowledge' sustaining spoke on the technology horizon map.

Future Challenges - Building on Traditional Strengths

China has had problems in the creation of an efficient business environment. Traditionally there has been much government interference. People try to manage market economy activities by using the methods they used to manage in the planned economy. China does not have a long history in developing high-tech (especially outside national defence technology). To combat this, several national level projects, have been launched, such as "National High-tech Research & Development Plan ("863 Project)", " Shifting from Military to Civil Product Project", "Torch Project", etc. to help accelerate progress. Another government initiative is the creation of 52 high-tech development zones that provide pilot bases for the industrialization of high-tech products.

Nevertheless China has a rich cultural heritage and a "hard- working" tradition. Chinese people, especial the coastal people have a great history in overseas travel. Through centuries of this tradition, there are overseas Chinese in almost every country in the world. Besides the 1.2 billion Chinese people in mainland China, there are roughly 57 million overseas Chinese living abroad. The community consisting of Chinese in the mainland China, "compatriots" as well as overseas Chinese is called as "The Great Chinese Community". There are also many Chinese students abroad.

As China transforms toward a market economy, the good points of our cultural context - like respect for learning and knowledge, responsibility and trustworthiness, self discipline, willingness to sacrifice oneself for future generations, justice, moderation and esteem for generosity will be beneficial for reform and innovation.

For China's future success, it will especially important to consider the continuous coordination between society, economy, technology and environment. The Technology Map allows us to monitor our progress. Now in its second version, we shall follow the progress of key factors and drivers shown in the map to find new ones. We intend to update this work periodically.

Jin Zouying
Director, Center for Technology Innovation and Strategy Studies (CTISS)
E-mail: zhouy@moon.bjnet.edu.cn

TELEWORK97 - Into The Third Generation

Stockholm (25-27 September)

David Skyrme

An unseasonably warm Stockholm brought together telework project managers, policy makers, teleworkers and researchers for the 5th Annual Telework Congress. Being in Sweden the mobile communications, social and labour market aspects of telework were very prominent. At the welcoming address Ines Uusmann, Sweden's Minister of Transport, Communications and IT told how she along with some other cabinet minister teleworked regularly from their homes along way from the capital. Telework, she said, could be a great booster to quality of life, particularly for those with families. The Swedish parliament is said to be one of the most 'wired' in the world.

According to Peter Johnston of the European Commission (DGXIII) telework is now in its third generation. He portrayed the generations as follows:

  1. 1980s - a few thousand - IT experts, remote login to corporate computers, outsourced work
  2. Early 1990s - business reengineering - some networking - but it affected only 1 per cent of the work-force
  3. Now - telework is part of the wider shift towards distributed and networking ways of working, based on developments in global networks, the Internet and mobile telephony
  4. In 2-3 years we will see the emergence of the global virtual organisation.

Growing Adoption

The growth of use of portable computers and mobile phones (there is one mobile phone for every three people in Sweden) has moved telework into the mainstream as another way of working:

"many people are teleworkers but don't call themselves teleworkers".

Teleworking, however, is still most evident among high-tech companies. For example we were told about teleworking in companies like Intel, Canon (whose slogan is 'Work where you Want'TM), and actually saw the flexible office arrangements at Ericsson. The human aspects were also very evident e.g. the mission Telia, Sweden's main telephone company, is to "develop the quality of life".

A few interesting facts and concepts that came out of some of the corporate sessions:

  • "email is our single most critical business application" (Intel)
  • email messages are growing 4.3 times a year - data transmitted 8.4 times (now 16 Gbytes a day) (Intel)
  • To impact the environment we must reduce traffic. Energy use per different modes (Telia)
    • car from central Stockholm to the airport (Arlanda) is equivalent to 16 hours telephone use
    • train to Gothenberg (500 km) - 76 hours
    • air to Gothenburg - 16 days
    • air to New York - 16 weeks
Despite lagging in Internet usage, Europe has two advantages over the USA:
  • ISDN: universal high speed access to data services
  • GSM: a "digital super airway" (Lars Berg, Telia)

Berg added that to switch from travel to the airways (and dataways) needs a change of mind-set and habit. For example, throughout the conference we saw more widespread use of videoconferencing (we used it to keep in touch with one of our absent colleagues from Athens) and the new generation of mobile phones that come with personal organisers and ability to access your email, all in one package (e.g. the Nokia 9000) was also making its mark (and regrettably heard - all too often people had their handsets turned on during the proceedings which were interrupted by their incoming calls).

Community Based Telework - Simultaneously Local and Global

Another strand of interest was the growing number of community based projects, using a combination of telecentres and homeworking. We heard examples from Lapland to the Western Isles of Scotland, where small businesses or local cooperatives were gaining work from remote employers, which allowed them to contribute to the economic development of their rural areas with moving. Speakers also told how use of the Internet in the local setting had also helped also bring more sense of community - "live local, work global", "distance from our main markets is not a barrier". What is needed is local entrepreneurs.

One such entrepreneur, winner of the International Women Entrepreneurs competition, was Pirkko Saarikivi, whose company Weather Service Finland is the first private weather service in Finland and provides forecasts for the media and other companies.

Entreprenuership - Arnold C. Cooper

While on the subject of entrepreneurship, Arnold C. Cooper, was awarded the $50,000 International Award of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research at a special ceremony in Stockholm's old town hall (where Nobel prize award dinners take place). In a talk the following morning he described the results of his research over many years.

  • New organisations are created in the locations where their founders live
  • Entrepreneurs tend to use the same technology as the firm he/she just left; the new firm is thus closely related in products, services and markets to their former company
  • The most important asset of the entrepreneur's new company is what and who they know
  • Those that started new companies often did so without laying the groundwork before they left. It was often the result of an abrupt change e.g.
    • 13 per cent had been fired or their company had failed
    • Their project had been stopped
    • 40 per cent left due to frustration in their current firm
      In Cooper's word's: "If you join an organization and they keep you happy, you are less likely to be an entrepreneur"
  • Most start-ups are spawned from small companies e.g. firms with less than 500 employees are ten times more likely to spawn off new companies.

Cooper outlined the characteristics of organisations that are most likely to spin off new businesses. They

  • Are in a growing industry
  • Need low capital investment
  • Are small companies or organised like small companies
  • Recruit capable and ambitious people
  • Have periodic internal crises.

Cooper's research has identified optimism as a key characteristic of entrepreneurs. Two others are that they are not high risk takers and take control of their own destinies. To conclude, Cooper outlined the growth of entrepreneurial studies from the first course in 1947, to the first research 'conference' in 1970 (12 people) to today's situation where there are over 100 university courses and 20 journals devoted to the subject.

All in all, this talk gave fascinating insights into an important subject.

The Youth Perspective

The final day of the conference also included the youth perspective. Again, showing their progressive stance, the Swedish government has created a Youth Council for IT. Representatives presented a well thought out vision of the future of work and society - mobility, networking, creating your own job, local/global - live in a small scale environment and work in a global one. Music is an example of one of Sweden's important youth exports.

Among the concerns of youth:

  • the exclusion from the information society of some groups (widening gap between the 'haves' and have-nots')
  • an education system that does not prepare the young for the future wired world
  • out of date labour market policies
  • low regard for politics and politicians

They gave many examples of how they had worked over networks with youth groups in Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbeijan and remote parts of Russia ("we use email - if we used normal mail it could take a month!"). They saw no problem with working independent of time and distance or of flexible jobs (e.g. work part of the year, travel during the rest), because "young people do not have fixed ideas about ways to work".

Overall, most of the audience (perhaps being more tele-aware) could relate closely to the aspirations and vision of those of the younger generation.

Other Observations and Comments

Perhaps the most interesting trend I noted was the growing interest in 'resort teleworking', an "office away from the office" so you can still enjoy your holiday. One such initiative in Crete links local hotels to the science park so you can access all the main facilities you need to telework while staying at a resort.

There were parallel sessions during the second day of the conference that covered five strands:

1. Telework in organisations - most projects were showing benefits, though start-up had sometimes been hard.

2. Telework and the organisation of work - conclusions were that working conditions, contracts between employer and employee and regulation needed more attention.

3. Telework -our saviour - special focus on community applications, rural areas and economic development - some worthwhile ventures, bringing people previously unused to using high technology into the information society - many have been funded from special initiatives, so the question of sustainability without continuing funds arose.

4. Telework, innovation and new technology - some interesting demonstrations e.g. of desk top videoconferencing by Microsoft, of collaborative working using electronic whiteboards etc. - but most people felt it needed to be much more user friendly for widespread acceptance.

5. How to increase the number of successful applications - 'wetware': support and help were seen as at least as important as hardware and software.

Other observations repeated by several speakers at the conference were:

  • the disparity between North and South Europe in uptake of telework and advanced networking technologies
  • the growing participation of women, particularly in the telecottage and rural development movement
  • the shift of the policy debate to the contribution to competitiveness
  • the interest of unions in representing teleworkers and the self-employed
  • the interest of politicians wanting to 'regulate', though with a light hand, to ensure health and safety, social equality and non exploitation of home workers.

Hopefully, the policy makers and other market actors will, through their coming together with practitioners at events like Telework97, strike the right balance between encouraging and sharing good practice and devising unnecessary regulations. What this conference has demonstrated is that telework is about working productively over a distance, whether you work in a large corporation (e.g. in virtual teams), as part of a small business network (e.g. in a virtual corporation), or as an individual sole trader working at home. A good teleworker can serve customers in remote markets by taking advantage of the new technologies and applying the skills of an online networker.

There is a much more comprehensive report of the conference at the NUTEK (Sweden's industrial development authority) website http://www.nutek.se (click on newsletter).

Update (1999) - The links to the telework conference have been removed.

Future Telework Events

If you missed Stockholm, there are over 50 telework events across Europe during ETW97 - European Telework Week 97 (3-10 November 1997). Details at http://www.eto.org.uk/etw97/

Update (1999) - European Telework Week now has its own web site (http://www.etw.org)

From Natural Harmony to Information Chaos:
Some Personal Reflections

David Skyrme

It is not often I use these columns to reflect my personal views and experiences. However, having had a marvellous vacation in the US Pacific North West my various interactions with awe inspiring natural phenomenon and modern technology caused me to pause and reflect.

Seeing the Columbia Gorge, Crater Lake and Mount St. Helens are unforgettable. Even more unforgettable are the extra sensations you get when paddling a kayak down the Rogue River Gorge and Hellgate Canyon - without a computer in sight. What I did find interesting was the way that new technology is being used to help to interpret nature and the past. As in other fields, the Internet is to the fore. For example, at many visitors centres for natural attractions, touch screen computers connected to the Web, letting you explore various 'volcano' Web pages or those on marine life. (Most restrict you to a captive set of pages, since you don't have keyboards so can't stray too far away!). At the University of Oregon's Marine Science Research Centre at Hatfield near Newport, Oregon, they are examining natural phenomenon making full use of computers and advances in chaos theory. Interpretation of history is also being aided by the Internet, allowing those in native American tribes scattered over the continent to reconnect and share their tribal traditions and history (for example http://www.nativeweb.org)

It was when we came back into more urban, high-tech America that this rediscovered harmony between people, nature and the tools of the time brought a rude awakening:

1. After flight disruption because of thunderstorms (not so unusual), the so-called 'friendly' airline was totally 'unfriendly' when it came to rearranging our missed connection (on a through flight billed as Portland to Heathrow). The best their computer could do initially was a flight 48 hours later! Information was scarce and often conflicting. It would have been better if they had given us a terminal to check flight options! It was my worst 'customer service' experience in over 20 years of trans Atlantic flying. We identified 10 different points of customer service failure. It took 4 hours from disembarking to getting into a local hotel. The bright spots were they did not lose our baggage and one helpful agent actually got us on a rival airline's flight only one day late. So engrossed with technology are airlines that they seem to forget the customer. Customer service operators seemed more intent on acting like robotic data entry clerks than actually raising their head from their screen and talking to customers.

2. The second was trying to phone home. First, in Europe we are now used to using 00 as the international access code (in the US its still 011). With competition among long distance operators you are asked to choose - half of the names beyond ATT, SPRINT and MCI I did not recognise. Once through to them the whole process was automated - you follow computer generated instructions to press this button, type in the number, then your credit card number, then a ZIP code (its RG14 6PX but the computer did not like that!) - only then I found that none took the world's favourite credit card, so you had to start all over again and try to get a human operator. What I quickly found was the information any one operator had was very limited. You get handed from operator to operator - one who can handle international calls, another to tell you the rates and so on. The phones are antiquated and the largest coin they take is a quarter (25 cents) - did I have $9 in change (and I thought calls were getting cheaper)? After 20 minutes I gave up!!

I am not alone in my frustration at unhelpful systems that companies are imposing on us. On the very same day (20 September) an article in The New York Times by Lynn LoPucki, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, described his frustration with automated response systems that go round in never ending loops; where you need to exert cunning to reach a human operator ("the E----- phone system was entirely automated so there was no human to scream at"!) and where if you don't fit the 'standard' profile, even the human operator seems unempowered to help.

Wake up corporations. Information systems can be very helpful, but do think of the human element of service - or as at the visitors centres, let the user wander around them for themselves - it is possible they can do a better job than your own operators! As the Ericsson slogan says "It's about communication between people. The rest is technology."

Email: david@skyrme.com
Useful Web site for frustrated air travellers: http://www.untied.com (yes I did spell it right!)

Readers Reply

Y2000: The Last Great Learning Opportunity
The Mile Wide Blind Spot

Andrew Braae

Hello David,

I enjoy very much your publication. As part of a software development organization (happily) well away from the Y2000 area, I would like to offer these thoughts.

The question that many people have in their minds when talking about the Y2000 problem is "how could those programmers have done that ? Didn't they realise the problems that would come back to bite them ?". The assumption here is that the rest of the software is relatively OK: but for some reason, a collective blind spot a mile wide developed simultaneously in the minds of thousands of programmers.

As anyone knows who has lived through the turmoil of a software development project knows, this is far from the truth. Almost any large scale piece of software built today is riddled through with bugs: errors that only occur under certain combinations of user interaction and different data. Y2000 bugs are only a tiny percentage of the total defects in a system: certainly far less than 5% of the total cost of rectifying defects. And Y2000 bugs are ridiculously simple: easy to detect and very easy to fix.

The reason that Y2000 bugs are different is simply in the way that, by a fluke of technology, they have remained benign and totally undetected until now. While other bugs (or at least the most annoying and most obvious of them) have been painfully but steadily reduced as their owners have stumbled across them, Y2000 bugs have been steadily swelling in number, awaiting the millennium before showing themselves long after the system designers and builders have left the scene.

The largest misconception is that Y2000 is an unexpected cost to business which has come out of nowhere. Nothing could be further from the truth: the fact is that Y2000 costs are simply an unusual blip in the graph: a loan which has now been called in.

Enlightened businesses will pay the loan, and then take the opportunity to learn from the experience. The lessons are simple. Y2000 costs have given a brief and frightening glimpse of the previously hidden costs of low-quality software development processes. Soon the window that provide this brief glimpse will close again. At that time businesses have a simple choice. They can treat the Y2000 problem as a historical oddity that has now gone away again. Or, in true enlightenment, they can conclude that such massive hidden costs are unacceptable, and they can start treating their software development processes as the vital corporate assets that they increasingly are in the virtual world.

Andrew Braae
Spin Software, LLC.

The Geometry of Knowledge

Ted Lumley


You said (I3 UDPATE No. 12)

"I suggest that 'knowledge management' is an oxymoron, since the challenge is to manage something that is intangible, in people's heads and is context related. On the other hand, knowledge is an important resource, while management is a professional discipline for making the most effective use of an organization's key resources. Therefore properly combined they could, and should, be a dynamic duo."

I agree with you.

I think the problem here is the failure to distinguish between 'geometrical' information and 'logical-particulate' information; the two very distinct types of informational views available to us as described by quantum duality. Geometrical information is perceived by our 'feeling' function while logoparticulate information is perceived by our 'logical' function.

For your interest, I copy you with a note sent to Gene Bellinger on this subject. His web page on knowledge management is at http://www.radix.net/~crbnblu/kmgmt.htm. Updated link (1999): http://www.outsights.com


Thanks for the links and the mutually inclusive expansion of our geometries and contexts.

We seem to be visualizing the same meta-patterns but explaining them with slightly different underpinnings.

While I used to be comfortable with explaining data, information, knowledge, wisdom, in some kind of connective linear structure, I now see this arrangement as fundamentally constraining.

Data is built up from true/false propositions. whatever one builds on this base is limited. This is the domain of the particulate (things and logic) in quantum duality.

The other way to look at a 'true' and 'false' or a 'one' and 'zero' is to look at the geometrical relationship set up between the 'thing' and its surrounding 'space' (not.thingness). This geometry corresponds to the domain of wave interference (relational geometries and feeling) in quantum duality. In art, this relational geometry is referred to as negative space, and it is how impressionists convey feelings.

These dual means of perception (information communication) lead to their own respective memory reservoirs; knowledge (your personal library of logical understandings) and wisdom (your personal art gallery of relational geometry feelings). The former is stored in 'explicit memory' in the brain, and the latter is stored in 'implicit memory' in the brain. Implicit memory is higher dimensional geometry based info and cannot be voluntarily recalled.

Poetry is all about relational geometry and feeling. Poetry or geometrical patterns superimposed on language can 'tickle' our implicit memory in an indirect way.

Logical explanation and argument is all about particulate things and logical rule structures. It is perceived and stored explicitly and directly recallable.

In the quantum maths, the relational geometry view of the world CONTAINS the particulate logical view of the world, but NOT vice versa. i.e. the relational and feeling based view is 'complete' (contains both interference and linear causal terms) while the particulate and logical is innately 'incomplete' (Goedel's theorem) since it lacks the relational interference (geometry) information.

When Orson Welles did the dramatic rendering of H.G. Wells 'War of the World', those who tended to store their world views in terms of knowledge, came away with the knowledge that their earth was being overtaken by Martians and some committed suicide and many were preparing.

However, the Zen Master, hearing the broadcast, would simply rely on his direct experience (i.e. his feelings as conveyed by the overall relational geometries; those in the story and those which contained the story and contained him). He would look out the window into his garden and if there were no Martians running around, he would not worry (i.e. he would not be mesmerized by incomplete knowledge and its logical constructs, but would rely on wisdom, the wisdom of direct experiential feelings and the understandings so gained).

The point is that the relational or geometrical information contains information regarding the 'vessel' in which the observer-observed phenomena operate. Logical-particulate information (i.e. 'data') contain no information with respect to the vessel therefore they are inherently incomplete.

As Heraclitus said; "the learning of many things does not teach intelligence [wisdom]; if so it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagorus, and again Xenophanes and Hecataeus."

So, returning to the quantum duality statements as formulated by Richard Feynmann and looking at the GEOMETRY of the probability equations;

'if you look, then you don't see it!' ('it' being the full interference effect between 'experiment' (vessel), observer and the observed)

P (looking) = p1**2 + p2**2

This is the domain of data and knowledge. you look at the things and their causal relationships but you miss the overall picture. 'One and one adds up to two', but this says nothing about the surrounding space or 'vessel'.

'if you don't look, then you see it!!!!'

P (not looking) = (p1 + p2)**2 = P (looking) + 2*p1*p2

This is the domain of relational geometries (information in a broader sense) and wisdom. The relational geometries, we perceive by 'feelings' in the process of 'visualization' as described by Einstein in his essay 'Geometry and Experience'. This allows you to incorporate in your visualization, not only the contents of the thing-space but also the surrounding 'vessel'. i.e. 'not looking' means that one doesn't look at the specific particulate and logical nature of the phenomenon, but instead, senses the overall geometry of it (this is also called 'bootstrapping' in the new physics, and is the same process by which consciousness is evolved in human ontology). I can look at her and see two eyes, a nose and a mouth, or I can look at her overall relational geometry which I can compare to a summer's day and darling buds of May etc. These interference patterns have the capability of resolving her particulate features and their logical connections as well as speaking to her 'negative space'; i.e. how she embellishes whatever environment she walks into.

When I 'look' at the mental picture of things and logical constructs in Orson Welles rendering of 'War of the Worlds', pumped full of potency with the geometry with which he delivered it, it can be very scary. If instead of getting hung up on this logical construct, this knowledge, this focus on things and this forgetting of the vessel which contains the things; and instead I open up my view by 'not looking' but sensing the overall relational geometries, I realize that the story of the Martians is contained within a bigger story about people and actors plying their artistic trade, and then again by society and culture in which these people and actors play. In other words, my relational geometrical look at the logical constructs on Orson's stage is in terms of the enveloping geometries of life and nature.

So, I feel (not think) that we are together on all of the geometry on your page, with the exception of how we see data, information, knowledge and wisdom relating to each other; i.e. whether it can all be seen in terms of logical structure sitting on a logical stage (as you have pictured it) or whether it must be seen as relating to the duality in nature (and in our perceiving of nature), by 'things and logic' on the one hand (logoparticulate view), and by 'geometries and feelings' on the other (wave view or 'geosensate' view). Perhaps if we view phenomena relative to the overall geometries of life, this will keep us out of trouble. When the stock market crashes (a logical construct) and we feel that our life is over, our smiling and cooing infant is still smiling and cooing, waiting for dada to come home from the office, seeing life through direct experience rather than through logical abstraction.... who is most correct? If you buy quantum duality, you must say that the child has the most complete view.

Knowledge management is understanding the geometries of knowledge.

All the best,

Ted Lumley
email: emlumley@OnRamp.NET

Knowledge Management Events

Turning Knowledge into a Corporate Asset, 8-9 October, London.
Speakers include Thomas Stewart, Bipin Junnarkar (Monsanto).
Business Intelligence. Tel: 0181 879 3399.

Knowledge Management in Telecoms, 23-24 Oct, London.
First Conferences. Tel: 0171 404 7722

Increasing Corporate Power through Knowledge Management, 3-4 November 1997, London.
Chaired by Larry Prusack.
World Trade Conferences. Tel: 0171 613 7500.

Knowledge Management in the Chemicals Industry, 5-6 November, Amsterdam.
Speakers include Keith Bradley, Gordon Petrash.
First Conferences. Tel: +44 171 404 7722. http://www.firstconf.com

Capitalizing on Knowledge, Knowledge Inc. First Annual Strategic Forum, Napa, California, 10 November 1997.
Keynote speaker - Peter Huber.
Tel: 415 893 0622. http://www.inference.com.

The CLO Chief Learning Officer) Conference - Building and Leveraging your Organization's Intellectual Capital, Orlando, Florida 20-21 November 1997.
Speakers include Robert Buckman and David Ulrich.
Tel: 617 862 3157.

Knowledge Management 97, 2-3 Dec, London.
Follow on from the success of Knowledge Management 96.
Business Intelligence. Tel: 0181 879 3300

OnLine 97, 9-11 December, London.
Includes several sessions on knowledge management. David Skyrme is presenting 'From information management to knowledge management: are you prepared?'
Learned Information. Tel: 01865 388000. http://www.online-information.com

© Copyright, 1997. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.

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