Knowledge and Knowing

Knowledge resides in and among the members of every team. How the team recognizes, stimulates and shares that knowledge, the team processes that value and create knowledge, directly affect the success of the team and the ability of the team to be creative and to handle change. Because knowledge is a social construction, a team (or any group of people) is the primary unit of knowledge creation. The effective creation of teams, knowledge and knowing are inextricably intertwined.

Team members have multiple ways of knowing, and knowledge in a team takes various forms. Knowledge can be tacit or explicit, held by the individual or by the group. So there is tacit individual knowledge and tacit group knowledge, individual explicit knowledge and group explicit knowledge. Overlaying the 4 types of knowledge is the distinction between knowledge and knowing. While knowledge is what is possessed, knowing is what is enacted or practiced. While knowledge can be described as knowing at rest, knowing seems to be something different than knowledge in action. Knowing is the result of action and resides in action. The different types of knowledge and knowing and the interaction among these forms is what generates new knowledge and creates an effective team. The movement back and forth between knowing and knowledge is highly generative.

Interestingly, modern Western culture values explicit knowledge over knowing and over tacit knowledge, while it could be argued that tacit knowledge and knowing are what "gets the work done." So the successful team has to overcome the bias toward explicit knowledge and ensure that its practices are those that recognize, value and nurture all types of knowledge equally. What are some of these practices?

Allow time and space for tacit knowledge and knowing

Knowledge creation is a "dynamic disorderly social process" (Choo) that results from the continuous and dynamic interaction between individuals within a team. Sense making among team members occurs through conversation, dialogue, collaboration, storytelling and metaphors. Team members naturally do this when given the time, however the pressures of deadlines often produce a group of individuals who don’t have time to communicate and consequently are fragmented and produce fragmented outputs. On the other hand, observing one another at work, becoming aware of one’s own work practices, passing work back and forth among team members all foster knowledge and knowing.

Be flexible and value the tension in dichotomies

Practices and processes are successful when applied in the proper context, but should never be rigidly applied. New practices should never be adapted in such a way that they stifle subsequent new practices. Satisfaction with practices and knowledge should never be so great that further exploration ceases.

Recognize the importance of context

The validity of knowledge and knowing must always be tested against the unique context of each situation. A process or practice that evolves from one context may not be appropriate or may need modification for a different context.

Pursue productive inquiry

Productive inquiry occurs when a team is actively pursuing a problem. This can take many forms – Defining a mission, agreeing on boundaries, establishing ground rules, improving a process, seeking to make tacit knowledge explicit. This is most often done within the context of work but can also be and intellectual exercise that is then applied to work, for example, a reading circle. The combination of activity, reflection and discussion is very powerful. The element of activity -- that is, the application to real work – is the most important element. This validates the potential learning.

A key prerequisite for these practices is recognition and valuing of the diversity of knowing and knowledge on a team. Then the diversity must be put to work to stimulate perspectives and generate new knowledge and enactment. It is this activity in an environment of trust and respect that gives power to teams.


Context & Situatedness


Team building and knowledge management, our team subject was slightly hard for us to explore at the beginning of this course. Each one of us had worked within teams in one way or the other. In our first course in this program, the group dynamics class, we've learned lots of interesting aspects about teams and their dynamics. But what about linking both team building and knowledge management. Interesting enough, through class discussions, readings, our team's meetings and the rich database in this course, we started exploring several themes that involve knowledge management and team building. One of these themes is team building and contextual knowledge.

When team members get together, how can they create or make sense of the same piece of information though they are coming from different worldviews? how are the time and space relevant to how team members create knowledge, solve problems and make decisions?

When we are part of a team how can we raise each other awareness to the contextual aspect of knowledge creating and sense making. How can we facilitate our sharing of sense making in the knowledge orientation process?

All these issues were raised in several different entries.

Information and data are always open for interpretation. Even within a seemingly homogenous team, the same piece of information, without the benefits of visual context, or inflections of voice, may carry multiple meanings to different people (of course this is possible within contextual boundaries as well). Consequently -- the issue of accurate individual or team sense making highly depends on its' interpretation.

Here is an interesting website that explores creating teams, knowledge management and problem solving.

Throughout our group discussion, we came to know that the state of knowledge that is created and shared within team members is probable and situated. For more on this see this link that examines in more detail the relationship between knowledge management within teams and the contextual knowledge aspect.

Here is a good example on how what is important to us today may differ from what we will be important to us tomorrow.

Here is another link to Mark's paper, which I found so much related to contextual knowledge, situatedness and the socially constructed participatory knowledge.

Maria in one of her entries underlines the relevance of time and space in creating knowledge within teams.

From all that we've learned that there are always multiple perspectives, not just right/wrong but contextual. In this light Carol tapped on the importance of examining the different perspectives and the value it adds to knowledge transformation within teams.

Here is another interesting entry, where Brian confirms the importance of recognizing the contextual knowledge within teams, and the dilemma of practicing the "contextual judgment".

When going back to the map of data - information - knowledge, we've learned that data isn't information and information isn't knowledge (and knowledge isn't wisdom, either.) The lines between the three aren't absolutely clear when it comes to human beings doing things like "collecting data" or "using information," or trying to disseminate knowledge. Personally I find it hard to think of data and information as pure and knowledge as derived from them. Data and information are never pure but always influenced by the situation and the context they are in, and can be unreliable, either by error or by design.


Relationships & Boundaries


Building relationships and expanding and extending boundaries is one of the components of team building and knowledge creation. We have explored what we believe to be the important elements in team building and knowledge creation for over eight weeks. Through this exploration, we have come to believe that values, trust, communications, common goals, culture, learning, collaboration, reflection and time and space are crucial in establishing and maintaining teams.

It is essential that teams have dialogue around what are the team values and find a link between individual values and team values. Individual values play a major role in how one operates and view the world. In order for there to be meaningful conversation where common goals can be establish, it is imperative that time and space is allotted to have dialogue on what is the meaning and purpose of the team. In doing so, this allows time and space for team members to get to know one another holistically rather than professionally. Carol June 22 Carol June 15

The question of trust appeared several times throughout the journals. How can trust be established? How can teams maintain trust? What impact do boundaries have on building trust?

Recently, non-profits began working together collaboratively to secure funds through grant proposal writing. Non-profits are discovering that they do not have all the ready skills to survive in the constant changing world and limited funds. In order for non-profits to rectify the situation and equally spread the funds they began sharing knowledge which extended their boundaries of networking. How safe is this form of collaboration? When communities or teams work together, they began to discover what they do and do not know. The tacit knowledge that they have learned to take for granted becomes a source of information that can be shared.

Tacit knowledge is very personal and it is difficult to communicate. Fortunately, when a group of people are joined together with common goals, the right questions are asked or skills are demonstrated in a form that the tacit knowledge becomes explicit and useful.

Is technology a barrier or an enabler to building relationships & boundaries?

How do we form the relationships between the technical staff and the non-technical staff?

Developing a shared vocabulary is one means of building a relationship. Listening to what the user issues are and what their needs are is also important.

How does the culture shape the environment? The artifacts of the organization sheds light to many of the customs and procedures of the organization. Al Wise of SEI stated, "We were getting in our own way." What does this mean? Can the culture be seen as a boundary in an organization? See what SEI did to change the way it operated.

Teams know the importance of reflection and time and space.

Nevertheless, teams do not make time to reflect on the practices of the past to make sense of them or to share with other colleagues. Reflection is important in establishing relationships and maintaining the extended boundaries outside and inside the organization. Reflection aids the team in assessing the process. The finished product seems to get all the attention and the process is what makes it all come together.

When we look at relationships amongst team members, we realize that it does take a village to build the impossible. It also takes members from diverse backgrounds who feel safe in questioning assumptions, suspending their own assumptions, open to changing their mental maps as well as models, patient in the learning of others, and are willing to trust.


Knowledge, Teams and Communications

 Looking through the various entries that our team has compiled over the course of the class the essence of communications stands out. Communication takes on a variety of forms - talking, writing and any way that knowledge or information is shared and an exchange takes place.

Our entries explore communications both directly and indirectly. There have been a variety of discussions in class this summer on what knowledge and information are, how they are shared and the impacts that they create. Looking at one area of knowledge management independently from the other areas is not an easy task because all of the areas are interdependent on one another. Many of our database discussions also bring in the idea of knowledge and its context. Context in many cases is also a product of communication. A statement or information can be communicated in various ways and be construed as a plethora of different things depending on the context of the way the information is communicated.

Communication and context comprise a large segment of knowledge transfer and are integral to overall understanding. Analyzing these areas are often difficult because many aspects of them are subject to interpretation.

 The following web site addresses are link in our discussion database to communication and its role in knowledge management and teams:

Laboratory Animal Research

Communication & Values

More Values

Sharing Values

Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Sharing Tacit Knowledge

Group Interaction

Productive Inquiry

Telling Stories

Reading Circles


The image of the scull is a powerful one. Although simple in form, the technology employed in this high-speed craft is both graceful and functional. The curve of on the blades of the oars is just right. The collars in which those oars rest create and essential medium between the power of the rower and the surface of the water. The scull itself is both narrow and shallow, engineered to cut through its watery course. There is a leader, somewhere unseen that keeps the crew on its rhythmic pace.

These all represent powerful forces in individual and organizational life. Interdependence is represented in the way these integrated parts work together to form a sleek and powerful craft. The unseen rowers in the photograph represent silence for reflection, a significant resource in managing change and building teams.

Computing is about Processing and Processes. While the average user is not, nor needs to be, too concerned about HOW things get done, this is critical for successful diagnosis and resolution of computer-related problems. Business processes and the way we do our work are closely related to the technical processes that go into accomplish a business purpose. Watching both processes is critical. And communication between the people that do the work and those who support the technology that facilitate the work is important. In building teams, watching the processes, or the "how-to’s" is critical. Questions about the applicability of technology to certain task are good ones. Technology solution solutions are often imposed "from above" without full understanding of and consideration for the way people actually work. This can have a significant effect on team spirit and collaborative efforts.

Team –building has much to do with relationships. How does technology impact relationships? Clearly, language between users and technical support people are often different and create strain due to misunderstanding, etc. Also, the role that collaborative technologies play in building relationships is one worth studying. A common theme of Professor Brad Cox is: "use the right tool for the job". And too often in these high-tech environments (this project included) it is possible for voices to be drowned out by the whir of the PC power supply, or the click of a mouse. Technology can enhance participation, but it can also be a tool of exclusion for the less "techno-savvy".


Process & Leadership
LEADERSHIP and TEAM WORKING are to concepts thighly related. But there are some issues that will be worth to clarify before trying to relate these concepts.

1. It is important to differentiate management and leadership.Every time that we speak about management and leadership it is very important to distinguish both concepts. Both attributes, manager and leader, could be present in one person at the a time, but they may not; in this case confusion could be dangerous.

2. Leadership in relation to team work, is an interactive (group)process of power and empowerment, where all who participate can develop leadership skills in an atmosphere of shared power and mutual growth. The "leader" under this INTERACTIVE MODEL OF LEADERSHIP can be any member of the group who demonstrate certain characteristics to solve certain problems at a certain moment. "If one person in the group develops a clear vision that focuses the efforts of the group, that person becomes the leader" (1). I am more agree with the concept of leadership, as a shared responsibility, than with the idea that "the leader" is always the same person who has certain personal characteristics.

3. If in a group anyone can be a leader, and if this role can be asumed by different persons at different times, it is important to growth as a group, developing in each person of the group some core competencies of leadership. This core competencies can be summarized as related
to Conceptual, Participatory, Interpersonal, and leadership competencies (2). Not everyone will develop all of them, but as a members of a
group we have the responsibility to help each other to work on them.

(1)Doctoral Students at Georgia State University (1990). An Interactive Model of Leadership. Nursing Administration Quarterly.Aspen Pub.
(2)Mahaffey, T., Kaplan, T., and Klauer, P. (1998).A Nursing Fellowship: Building leadership Skills. Nursing Management 29(3), pp.30-32.