Knowledge enables purposeful action

UPDATE Nov 2015: If you are interested in an ongoing conversation about Knowledge Management and how to apply it, please check out our newly launched online magazine RealKM!

Back in March, Seth Godin wrote a post which really resonated with me. The key quote:

We always make [decisions] based on what we know and believe. That's a tautology, based on the definition ... a decision is the path you take based on what you know and believe, right?

It's such a simple, yet powerful statement. Presented as a formal logical statement (and its equivalents) we see some of the key tenets of Knowledge Management emerge:

If I know (p), then I will decide to do (q) – knowledge enables purposeful action
I do not know (p), or I will decide to do (q) – risk avoidance requires knowledge
If I will not decide to do (q), then I do not know (p) – action can be inhibited due to lack of knowledge

Note that this says nothing about the quality of the knowledge being used. Indeed, trying to confirm that we only use "true" knowledge to make decisions is a fool's errand. Rationally, all we can do is make a decision based on the knowledge we have, using knowledge that has the best track record to date of matching expected results to reality.

I hear some of you mutter, "This is just know-what. What about know-how, actually doing the work?" I would argue that possessing a competency is not knowledge, although knowing the competency levels of you and those around you is certainly a key piece of knowledge to reference when making decisions.

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