Duck Intelligence, Think Wisdom

I have exercised my systems of patience, after using my systems of reading to dive into the blog and research published (sorry, posted using their systems of writing, editing, and publication) by Forrester recently.

I had to use my patience not to react using what my daughters call my “catch phrase” — Aw, come on!!

Seriously – is everything becoming a system now? I groaned at the birth of Systems of Engagement (possibly as a potential alter-ego to the forever-there-but-never-named-so systems of record… AKA CRM).  Downright exploded and made my feelings known at the “systems of intelligence” (aka analytics).  But this is where I feel I have to put down my proverbial foot and say enough is enough.

Just like not everything in this world is a platform or part of an ecosystem (as necessary as those are, you cannot turn a 20-year old solution into a “knowledge management platform” just by hiring a new VP of Marketing), not everything in this world is becoming a “system of” something.

In this case, the problem is that the marketing hype surrounding the concept of wisdom (and the rush to be the first one to coin a term – well done, Forrester — you win that one… yay) is clouding a reality.

Knowledge Management is no longer sufficient to power organizations’ quest for business transformation.

We have been trying for over 50 years to manage knowledge with different degrees of success.  We created technology, processes, even a culture of knowledge that was supposed to ensure organizations could corral, manage, and reuse knowledge at the drop of a hat in any instance, at any time, via any channel, integrated into any technology.

Needless to say, it hasn’t happened.  I wrote plenty about this (look at the my downloads page and read some of the series of blog posts I did – or search knowledge management on my blog) and the need to alter the model of knowledge management.  I am a big pusher for knowledge-in-use and communities and try to stay away from knowledge repositories – although I know that virtually no one is following me there…

The recent changes to technologies, information management (which i covered in my last business transformation update), speed of change, and societal changes induced by communities (no, not powered by vendors – more and more people flocking to communities) have made the traditional knowledge-in-storage model almost unsustainable.

Indeed, collecting knowledge for (maybe) later use is no longer feasible for organizations.  While the current systems will continue powering that model for another 2-3 years (up to a decade in some cases) I am seeing a need and demand for something more useful.

Powered by “Systems of Intelligence” (analytics), “Systems of Insight” (seriously?), and more importantly by the failure rate associated with traditional KM implementations in organizations my clients are asking to bypass the concept of KM and instead focus on wisdom.

Before you start screaming, I am not using wisdom in the same way that Webster defines it – but as a model for applied knowledge.  Got a better word? bring it – comment box is below.

Wisdom is what happens when you use knowledge – and what we always wanted our KM systems to do.  It is not just to store an article with an answer, but it is to know how that answer is applied, when does it work, when it doesn’t, and how to find the ancillary information necessary to make it work in the latter.  Not by simply starting a new query – but by associating all the wisdom surrounding that answer (in real time, mind you – as things are changing quite rapidly these days) from all the relevant SME (subject matter experts) regardless of where they are and what they are doing.

There is an old phrase – knowledge is understanding that tomatoes are fruits.  Wisdom is understanding that they shouldn’t go into a fruit salad.

That is likely the easier way to explain the difference.  Or to go back to my title… as odd as it is.

Knowledge is understanding that ducks are unlikely to be a source of wisdom.  Wisdom is to know I wrote that title on my iPhone and autocorrect changed it.

Waddle on to the comments below and let me know what you think… are we ready for some wisdom?

5 Replies to “Duck Intelligence, Think Wisdom”

    1. funnny, heard that from people… the post was supposed to be duck knowledge, think wisdom… but somewhere along the editing lines i lost the concept. oh well, next time…

      it would’ve made the closing remarks on knowledge and wisdom far more biting (which, imo, was one of the funniest lines i ever wrote… yet no one commented… sigh)

      thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed


  1. High time people learnt from learning experts about the learning at the moment of need model (try deciphering that with a text mining tool) … the model states that people learn at these points of need:

    1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New);
    2. When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned (More);
    3. When they need to act upon what they have learned, which includes planning what they will do, remembering what they may have forgotten, or adapting their performance to a unique situation (Apply);
    4. When problems arise, or things break or don’t work the way they were intended (Solve); and,
    5. When people need to learn a new way of doing something, which requires them to change skills that are deeply ingrained in their performance practices (Change).

    Most KMs are used (as in, they are referenced to do something), if at all, for the 4th point … in customer service.


    1. yes, that’s where they are used – but that ignores the need for wisdom (insights?) across the enterprise. i’ve been working on a knowledge (wisdom? insights) everywhere model that has potential – yet, needs to have people step back from knowledge as a scary thing and adopt it across functions.

      time, my friend, will tell…

      thanks for reading and commenting


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