The business of information

I have been discussing business models for information-based businesses and in those talks realized how Tim Kastelle’s Aggregate, Filter, Connect model makes good sense. If you’re in the information or knowledge business, which is any media company, then it’s exceptionally important to master each of these three processes.

You need to aggregate from your network and your suppliers in order to have access to just-in-time as well as just-in-case information. Good aggregation means that you can write an article on short notice or summarize a complex event, such as the situation in Haiti. If you only have have access to limited information, your analysis will be poor.

Filtering is the ability to not only find the needle in the haystack of bookmarks, files, reports and blog posts, but knowing which ones are trusted and most suitable for the task at the hand. The perfect picture for a specific context can tell a great story. We can filter with the assistance of our subject matter networks – knowing who to ask about what and when.

Once again, based on the context of the situation, which still requires mostly human skills, we can connect objects, ideas and people. The more complex the situation, the more important it is to connect the right pieces together. Connecting is getting the best information at the optimal time to those who need it.

Here is part of the presentation that I used in my discussions this past week:

13 Responses to “The business of information”

    • Harold Jarche

      @Stephen I agree the concept is not new, but I like to give credit to the people who got me thinking about it, and those particular three words were inspired by Tim. Just like I give credit for PKM to Denham Gray, Lilia Efimova, Dave Pollard, et al.

      @Jon PKM fits into all of this and I think it’s part of contributing to being in a wirearchy. You need to be a contributor to the organization’s learning. It doesn’t have to be in any given form, but you need to participate. Much as we do as members of ITA.

      Reply
  1. Jon Husband

    @Jon PKM fits into all of this and I think it’s part of contributing to being in a wirearchy. You need to be a contributor to the organization’s learning. It doesn’t have to be in any given form, but you need to participate.

    Yes, indeed. I had several conversations about exactly that .. citizenship as a key element of Steve Barth, who has written extensively on the subject. I stood in for him in a workshop on PKM at KMWorld, as I think you know.

    Actually, I think it’s fundamental to one’s effectiveness in a wirearchy .. knowing about what you give and need and why, and negotiation your involvement and roles .. a dynamic two-way flow, etc. applies

    Reply
  2. Paul Simbeck-Hampson

    Hi Harold,
    In reference to this point (slide 28)…

    Volume: “We cannot master all the knowledge needed for our work.”

    So what we (businesses/organisations) really need to do is get on with the process of “social” in order to fill the knowledge gaps, reduce hierarchy control, invite tacit communication while adopting a variety of innovative flexible techniques and technologies. Sounds easy enough… 😉

    I like this quote by M.C. Richards

    “A knowledge of the path cannot be substituted for putting one foot in front of the other.”

    Thanks for the inspiration (again), also to @oldaily @jon 🙂

    Reply
    • Harold Jarche

      However the knowledge hoarding model begins to fail when it becomes cheap and easy to share and when the knowledge required to complete a task exceeds an individual’s capability to learn in the time available.

      This has been reflected in a longitudinal study of knowledge workers that Robert Kelley of Carnegie-Mellon University conducted over more than twenty years. He asked professionals “What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?”

      In 1986 the answer was typically about 75%. By 1997 workers estimated that they had only about 15% to 20% of the knowledge needed in their own mind. Kelley estimated that by 2006 the answer was only 8% to 10%.

      Given that professionals now need to draw 90% or more of the knowledge they need to do their jobs from others, in my view ‘Knowledge equals Power’ is no longer true.

      I believe it is now more accurate to state Knowledge Shared equals Power Squared.

      Source: http://egovau.blogspot.com/2009/11/knowledge-shared-equals-power-squared.html

      Reply
  3. Paul Simbeck-Hampson

    It’s a done deal then when those stats from Mr Kelley are correct. Social is the way only way forward and sharing is the name of the game. I can now see clearly why some very rigid hierarchical institutions are feeling the fear – knowledge shared, power squared.

    20 years ago, the upper management had the information and therefore the power, now that everyone has the information available in multiple streams, the role of upper management changes from deliver of content to facilitator and coach – a paradigm shifting phenomenon. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Steve Barth

    Hi Harold, my filters just alerted me to this great exchange. I absolutely agree that “We cannot master all the knowledge needed for our work.” Now, doesn’t that imply that someone else has mastered knowledge we need? And in return, aren’t we responsible for mastering something others won’t know? To the extent that mastery requires not only specialization but focus, does stewardship sometimes get mislabeled as hoarding? I think we know more together when we know different things separately—and then share.

    Paul, an expert may appear reluctant to share if he/she gives short answers rather than wanting to burden the asker with extraneous information they won’t understand. That isn’t necessarily anti-social, is it? (By the way, a related reason why some people don’t always share is worry that a non-expert will misuse the knowledge because they lack the context and contingencies.)

    Reply
    • Harold Jarche

      In tacit knowledge exchanges, I would say that understanding of the context and caveats on usage would be rather important. I guess it’s one more thing to consider when sharing. Thanks for your perspective, Steve.

      Reply
  5. Steve Barth

    Isn’t this why there is such a bandwidth bottleneck when trying to make tacit knowledge explicit. You can only really have a “tacit” exchange between two like-minded experts, where most of the learning is subtext, anyway. ( I use the example of Picasso studying Velasquez’ “Las Meninas”).

    What I was thinking of in my comment above is about how much the expert chooses to explain to a journeyman, novice or outsider when the context and caveats require a lifetime of experience to comprehend.

    Then there is also the problem of available time, which people are starting to recognize as an issue in collaboration. The longer that learning conversation takes, the less time there is for the doing, eh?

    Reply
    • Harold Jarche

      Which shows, quite nicely, why tacit knowledge cannot be captured and conversations between apprentices, journeymen and masters need to be as unfettered as possible.

      Reply
  6. Jon Husband

    @Paul

    20 years ago, the upper management had the information and therefore the power, now that everyone has the information available in multiple streams, the role of upper management changes from deliver of content to facilitator and coach – a paradigm shifting phenomenon.

    They (upper management) still do, by and large .. or at least often have critical information that the other levels do not have, or only get in diluted forms … but yes, the game is changing.

    Your italicized comment above is a key aspect of what it means to operate as a leader or manager in a wirearchy, in my opinion. Yes, the potential for a paradigm shift is at hand.

    Any of you remember all the talk of paradigm shifts (to the Information Age) back about 20 years ago, and everybody nodding knowingly? Well, I think it’s only just about now that it’s starting to bite the average Jane or Joe in the butt .. or feed them new and interesting, and sometimes useful, grist for the mill.

    Reply

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