Posts Tagged ‘Know-Why’

Value of Knowledge

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The development of the Internet has changed the value of Know-What because when information is nearly free, the value of knowing it decreases. For example, hypochondriacs can now do a self-diagnosis after reading about their symptoms from medical forums on the Internet. Or look at the Encyclopedia Britannica. It was outmanoeuvred by Wikipedia in a matter of mere months. Decades of total market dominance had swung the other way against them.
When information is nearly free, what now becomes more valuable is Know-How. If you look at efficiency in knowledge-based work, there is easily a 10 difference factor on productivity between people. And that’s not because people work 10 times as hard, it’s because they work 10 times smarter. That comes from Know-How and knowing the right persons.
When you master one technology, technologies related to it are also easily mastered because you understand the foundation and principles upon which that technology depends upon. If you know much about a specific domain, you can easily be more efficient. In the knowledge-based economy, people like to collaborate with people who share common interests and values. People get together in small communities and forums and discuss what interests them. If someone joins but does not contribute to the sub-cultures’ common interests, they don’t have any status. Status in the knowledge-based economy comes from your contributions.

Know-How is Valuable in the Knowledge Economy
The power and ability to influence in the knowledge-based economy first comes from how you know and how much attention you put on value. The person with the most influence on communities and sub-cultures are those who contribute regularly. The ones that contribute to a network are valued and respected; the ones who only consume other people’s contributions are seen as leeches. That decreases the value of the network.
In forums, people who contribute too many answers to problems are considered gurus and people who only ask questions are considered newbies or freeloaders. If a network or community is too general and there are too many freeloaders, the circle of contributors to the network becomes narrower and closed. The more contributors there are and the more friends you have, the higher up in the hierarchy you get.
If you’re not gaining knowledge and experience, you’re losing competence. You either grow or shrink. To develop a team, a culture that calls for both personal and team development is necessary. To develop more knowledge, you also need to develop the right attitude towards knowledge and teamwork.
Development is mentally difficult because that’s what we need to reconsider ourselves. Many of us have learned through years of socialization and school systems that being right is good. If you are right, you are rewarded, and if you are wrong, you are punished.
As a result, many people become obsessed with being “right”. But what does this lead to? It convinces us that one way is more “right” than others and that which is different is wrong. To develop, you have to realize that the way things were done before was not necessarily optimal for its outcome, and therefore you were wrong. If prestige was involved in the “right” way, it is difficult to re-evaluate the situation and develop. So the feeling of being right can be dangerous because it doesn’t help us develop.

Introduction to Knowledge

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In a knowledge-based economy, the core value in creating activity is to use information and to combine it with knowledge produce something more valuable. For example, developing software is justified because the value that comes from the system is more valuable than the cost of producing it. There is no clear definition of what knowledge is or how it’s obtained. Knowledge is a much broader concept than information.  To analyze knowledge, a distinction must be made between different kinds of knowledge.


Know-what is about knowing facts. Example are:  who is the prime minister of India? Which team won the Stanley Cup in 2006? These kinds of knowledge are easy to obtain simply by “googling” the question. This knowledge is easy to obtain from the Internet.  Another example:  you can prepare a presentation on Chinese pottery with pictures in less than an hour. In some complex areas, workers must have a lot of this kind of knowledge in order to do their jobs. Lawyers and physicians need to learn many facts for them to be successful.


Know-why knowledge refers to principles and laws of nature. It is the kind of knowledge that underlies technological development and is sometimes referred to as scientific knowledge.


Know-how knowledge is about skills and the capability to do something. This kind of knowledge has more to do with personal competence; for example, a businessman who judges market prospects for a new product, or a personnel manager who selects and trains new staff. This knowledge takes time to obtain and master.  You need to practice and get coached; you also have to leave your comfort zone to develop your know-how.


Know-who involves information about who knows what and who knows how to do it. It involves the formation of special relationships, making it possible to get access to domain experts. Know-who is often the knowledge of the internal structure of an organization, network, or a specific industrial domain. In the knowledge economy, it is all about your personal network.

Learning these four kinds of knowledge takes place through different channels. The Know-What and Know-Why are obtained through reading, attending lectures, and checking the Internet.  The other two kinds of knowledge are rooted primarily in practical experience.