First published by Stacy Goff April 2, 2011, republished in 2021. We post this article to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of IPMA-USA, founded April 9, 2001. Our founders have been long-time leaders and innovators in the project and program management (PPM) practices. We have contributed greatly to the growth of PPM practices, and to other professional associations that had advanced them.
One of our founding objectives was to move past a project management certification process that focused just on knowledge. Instead, we focused on skills, attitudes and competence, on strategic alignment of projects, and improving project management interpersonal interaction. Our goal: to vastly increase project team and enterprise competence, performance, and business results.
PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
This topic was inspired during a trans-Atlantic air travel dialogue with a young lady seatmate whose job responsibilities included Knowledge Management in an alternative energy company. We explored, and brought together, a range of the relevant terms and disciplines involved with knowledge acquisition, assimilation, retention, and application. Upon my return, and reflecting on the unresolved parts of our discussion, I scheduled an interview with Knowledge. This was more difficult than I thought, even though I had long-ago attributed traits of anthropomorphism to her. Finding Knowledge was easy. Getting dedicated time to interview her was the difficult part. Her? Of course, Knowledge is feminine in gender. Some men don’t really understand more than Facts, the younger step-brother of Knowledge.
Our Interview with Knowledge
My first question was the title of this posting. She asserted that “No one ever asked me!” She expressed concerns that many of those purporting to “manage knowledge” do have some insights, but most do not understand the entire story. She pointed out that Knowledge is only one member of her large family of Intelligence, and some of her senior siblings are even less-understood than she. For example, her Grandmother is Wisdom. And, she asserted her deep concern that there are whole industries, educational systems, software support, and even certifications based on just her part of her family.
While some, such as Peter Senge, come close to deep understanding, many of his followers only grasp the obvious parts. And, especially disconcerting to Knowledge was her belief that man has had few new insights about her for several thousand years, since the illuminations in China, India, Greece and Egypt. The interview, while wide-ranging and deep in content, was a firehose blast of perspective, all absorbed in a 15 second interview. Ms. Knowledge had other pressing commitments elsewhere.
The Taxonomy of Data
The interview led me to reflect on my own journey toward Knowledge and the rest of her family many years ago. In the 1970s I performed presentations to various professional groups. One of my favorite presentations, especially for groups involving data and information systems, was The Taxonomy of Data. I did not invent the concept; I had read something in 1974 that inspired me.