Step Ten: Streamline Communications (Data > Information > Knowledge > Wisdom) - Forever

From data…

Data is meaningless information. Data needs to be analyzed before it becomes explicit information. This processing may be handled by a computer or by humans depending on the capability of the data processor.

If the computer or team is incapable of processing the data to become information within the time available then we rely on our intuition or tacit knowledge to make decisions. This is to be encouraged particularly in creative processes but not in safety critical processes (although if all else fails we will still guess even if our lives are at stake!).

You know that we also have to be careful about seductive information that looks interesting and supports our point of view but is based on shaky foundations.

By working systematically, we watch for the results of our decisions to see how much they deviate from the planned effect and then make adjustments to the plan or decision accordingly. This is another example how the PDCA cycle can work and its inventor would have encouraged us to make predictions.

Data streams flow to and from points at which the process is being controlled. This data may be sent to the process control points from one or more databases. This flow of data also works in reverse to gather data from the control points for processing into information so it can be used at control panels. Most of this data leads to explicit knowledge for further processing done mainly by humans in making intelligent decisions such as delivery promises.

…to information…

This is not the whole story for enabling the reader to visualize how their system can be streamlined to improve communications and decision making. Clearly email can be an important medium for transmitting explicit information but we often need to see the faces and bodies of each other to convey tacit information. For example, ask a baseball player to explain the process of hitting a baseball.

The breakthrough you are seeking is converting personally felt tacit knowledge into organizationally stored (and conveyed) explicit knowledge for everyone to share and use. A system cannot achieve this for any organization unless it embraces and includes vigorous learning from each other all of the time and connects with the rest of the world.

This thinking and the advent of enterprise-wide management systems will heavily influence all of our integrated management or teamwork systems for the foreseeable future.

Some readers may even progress from Quality/Environmental/Safety Manager to System Director and on to the VP of Knowledge!

…to knowledge.

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