Schlagwort-Archive: Knowledge

Learning is a completely personal matter

Already in the Politeia Plato formulated „what the ignorant has to suffer duly … is to learn from the knowledgeable“. Basically, it was clear from an early age that learning has to do with personal passion. Only the interested and curious have sufficient tenacity to expand their knowledge beyond the comfort zone. This becomes visible subsequently in their behavioral changes, which become possible through observations, experiences and exercises. Although this has been known for two and a half thousand years, the idea still prevails that one could instill people the desired knowledge. This ignores the fact that, at best, data is transferred. However, some people consider this data as unnecessary noise, when they have no motivation to process the received, initially incomprehensible data. Learning cannot be forced, since it is a completely personal matter.

The learning process takes place exclusively in the mind of each individual in his or her own personal way. Neither information nor knowledge or wisdom can be passed on, since they exist only in the minds of every person – even if artefacts such as books and films give the impression that there is more than just the transmission of data. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the elements of meaning that build on one another.

  • Sign
    The starting points for our contact with the environment are our sensory perceptions, which we absorb via the eyes, ears, body, nose or tongue. The flood of stimuli we are exposed at is unimaginably great. In order not to go crazy, we unconsciously suppress most signals. The remaining signals arouse our attention and become thoughts on a still unknown path that can only be described to a limited extent – except the facts that we are able to encode as data.
  • Data
    We convert this data into messages, which we pass on with our means of expression, e.g. with the help of spoken or written language or music or visualizations or our behavior. The sender encodes its thoughts as well as possible. A popular metaphor is the data processing of a computer – although our brain does not work that way. The computer works with ones and zeros (001000111). Although we measure electronic activities in the head and can assign brain areas to certain mental processes, we do not know yet exactly how our consciousness evolves as a result. The previous describes the transmission of data that can become information in the next step.
  • Information
    The receivers that are able to decode the received data convert the data stream into a number (e.g. 39). Only by linking it with other data it becomes information. As soon as the addressee realizes that the value comes from a thermometer used to measure a person’s temperature, we recognize that someone has a fever. If this is a new fact or an update of an earlier measurement, the data becomes information that requires our attention. Now, medical knowledge is required.
  • Knowledge
    Depending the state of knowledge, certain people, for example medical doctors, can order the application of calf compresses or the administration of an antipyretic based on available knowledge. Such conclusions could be drawn by a computer. The real difference in treatment arises, when wisdom is added.
  • Wisdom
    Over time more and more knowledge accumulates, which leads to wisdom in combination with already existing knowledge. Accordingly, the wise doctor not only observes the thermometer, but has a holistic look on the patient. Upon further examination he discovers an open wound and other symptoms. Based on his experience and his foresighted wisdom, he detects blood poisoning. Now the calf compresses aren’t sufficient.

The shown levels of meaning are often mixed in everyday life. With the assumption that it is information, many think that all levels are easy to transport and communicate. In fact, however, only data can be disseminated. A group of dashes can have a lot of meaning for the sender. For those who do not know the writing or symbolism of a picture, these signs remain incomprehensible – a good example is the Voynich manuscript. Even data often remains closed off – or who understands this?

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Only the data that the sender combines to a message can be transmitted. In the receivers’ head, the data he or she understands becomes information that is linked to other information about the context. In the interaction with existing knowledge, actions are eventually derived. The transition to wisdom is fluent, takes a lot of time and motivation to learn. The knowledge and the linking of different fields of knowledge ultimately lead to extraordinary possibilities.

Bottom line: Information exchange, knowledge transfer, knowledge management, knowledge mediation or Nuremberg funnels with which knowledge is to be disseminated are apparently pragmatic approaches, but often fail due to a lack of willingness to learn. Since only data can be transmitted, it is necessary that the individual makes an effort to convert the data into information, process it into knowledge and at some point has enough experience to speak of wisdom. In communication, the receiver decides on the meaning with its horizon of experience – each person has its own viewpoint and therefore accumulates its own personal insights. For these reasons, learning is a completely personal matter.

The organism – the ideal metaphor for natural order

The original world knowledge was determined by the experiences that humans witnessed in their immediate environment. They were holistic experiences that were not distorted by mental simplifications. Over centuries this perspective was pushed into the background. With the newest insights it appeared that the world is not a machine, a clockwork, but a naturally grown entity that lives by its own, so far hidden rules. Also the economy slowly starts to understand that new approaches are needed. The organism is the ideal metaphor for such a natural order.

natordnung

The natural order can not be developed, but grows by its own. You can only try to create fertile basic conditions, so that it develops as desired. The following aspects are concerned.

  • Structure
    The organism consists of many, indistinct and strongly exchanging components. This can be cells, organs or other parts of a body. Even if they differ in size, they are on the same level. Biologists or physicians recognize interaction and find starting points to influence. In business similar approaches develop under the heading of Agile organization, Lean management, and subsidiarity. The departure from the actual Taylorism and its breaking down of tasks, authority and responsibility is common to all. Small mobile units, which have full control, are to adapt flexibly to the market requirements. Eventually they adapt like organisms adapt to changing context condition.
  • Format
    An organism grows up and develops over generations special abilities that enable to survive. It uses for this purpose no artificial structures, but interacts spontaneously with its environment. That way also the business areas have to act now. The emphasis goes away from schematic operational sequence, to open, adaptable procedures. Each unit can find and implement its own approach. The cooperation of the enterprise is marked by the fact that all units yearn for a common conception of the future. The exchange of information will create understanding and comprehensibility with the effort of all units that result from the honest needs to communicate and to show interest. Enterprises use words and numbers as information. Organisms use their biochemical messengers.
  • Leadership
    In a flock of birds it is not possible to identify, where the change of direction starts or who it triggers. There seem to be simple, context related rules. In retrospect you can suspect at best, what the triggers might have been. Enterprises, which get involved in such approaches, have difficulties, because they cannot assign the responsibility for the changes. In this context not one, but all provide the triggers and define together the target. Many efforts seem to fall senselessly flat thereby. For today’s bosses this appears like waste. They forget thereby that all involved people learn and cooperate more effectively in the future. A direct steering harms the nature more, than it is useful. In business it sometimes goes against individual interests.
  • Key figures
    The organism shows only few objectively attainable key figures – fever, increased pulse, rapid breathing, and changed metabolism. The remaining indicators are qualitatively – fitness, adaptability, agility, and flexibility. In business are rather less measurable key figures – fluctuation, employee burn-outs, bustle, and degree of workload. Success becomes here visible with the monetary results, after everything is over. Readjusting afterwards is difficult. The early gut feeling is the only thing that you have beforehand. The new economic key figures become more and more similar to those of the organism.
  • Cooperation
    The interaction of an organism can only be shown to a certain extent, since the best description can illustrate only part of the reality. The substantial part remains concealed. And it is clear to everyone that a healthy cooperation makes a body viable. Enterprises that live a really open work culture, receive results in unexpected places. The intrinsic motivation of each participant dynamises meetings. Short work rounds produce increasing value by not wasting the time of others because people are only present for the sake of being part of the meeting. The involved people decide only to join a meeting, if it provides a benefit to them and produces thereby an enormous momentum for all. Exactly, as the organism knows ho to pace its forces, the natural order is following the same principles.
  • Knowledge
    Does the bee swarm know that it is an organism out of many individuals? The bees found their way to share their knowledge. The swarm knows quickly, where the best flowers are to be found. The knowledge exchange takes place quasi automatically. Enterprises with natural order have informal channels that bring quickly the knowledge to the places, where needed. The substantial consequences are that not all know everything and only the really needed information is available. Actually it is perfect to dam the flood of information. The dynamic structure of the organism processes the stimuli even in such a way that over time its structure adapts to the new conditions.

Bottom line: The organism is the ideal metaphor for the natural order, as it is recently introduced in business. The pre-requisites for this open form are the adaptability of growing units, the tolerance for different solutions, the let loose of direct influence by the executives, soft key figures, the ability to co-operate spontaneously and the sharing of the common knowledge without hidden agenda.