Monday, 23 February 2009

Cumulative vs discrete knowledge

Value comes from cumulative knowledge being practised. Discrete knowledge is the one-off:
“What’s x’s email address?” “It’s”
Cumulative knowledge is knowledge that allows people to build further as in “I’ll show you where to find his address and that of anyone else in that organisation”. Consultants that provide discrete knowledge deliver arguably less value than consultants that provide a new way of thinking and cumulative knowledge.

Consultants that bring a user department to a strategic way of thinking, looking for a long term vision, rather than worrying about implementation tactics provide cumulative knowledge. Contractors might initially provide specialist, discrete knowledge but when I hear contractors and users talking about a learning process then I infer that knowledge is cumulative.

Research on knowledge transfer is a strength of Prof Mark Easterby-Smith who came to talk to us recently.

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