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Drucker (1999) states that organizations should also learn to treat knowledge workers as assets rather than costs, as those workers who are knowledge workers will want to work at the organization "in preference to all other opportunities" (p. 84). In addition to employees, knowledge can also be useful in many other variables that constitute organizations. Knowledge can allow for positive change in development, in customer relations, and in organizational processes. When applied correctly, knowledge's purpose can be fulfilled in any of these areas, as the process of creating knowledge allows for adaptation and growth. For instance, when camera companies learned about technology that would allow for digital photography, as well as customer demands for such technology, they changed the products that they manufactured, allowing themselves to succeed as manufacturers. If an office aid is given receives new knowledge about a device that will increase typing time, he or she might bring it up with the manager, who then might purchase it, causing the company to progress using the new technology, and providing faster results.
Thus, my own personal philosophy of knowledge holds that knowledge's purpose is to invoke progression and positive change. From a managerial standpoint, I know that knowledge has another goal, to benefit the organization. Still, I hold that knowledge only fulfills its purpose if it creates the response of progressive change or adaptability to change. If a person has knowledge, but does not use it, then knowledge is purposeless. For instance, if a police officer takes a course in which he or she learns how to prepare a community for a terrorist threat, but does not prepare his or her community for the threat, then the knowledge has been wasted. If the police officer had prepared the community, then that community would have changed, and the change would have been positive. From the managerial standpoint, the only way that knowledge can benefit an organization is through change and action. If the office assistant discovers a device that will increase typing time, and chooses not to bring it up to the manager, then the knowledge is lost; or if the manager sees the office assistant's memo and throws it in the trash, knowledge has served no purpose. Even procedural knowledge fits this purpose. If an unskilled worker is told how to use his or her hands to put plastic pieces together, and the worker does not change the way he or she uses his or her hands to complete this work, then the company will not be benefited with another work who can complete the task at hand. Thus, the grand purpose of knowledge is to create progressive, positive change.
Means of Acquiring Knowledge
While the nature of knowledge, along with its purpose, form the core foundation of my philosophy of knowledge, understanding how knowledge is acquired is an integral part of this philosophy. Without the ability to acquire knowledge, both my understanding of the nature of knowledge and knowledge's purpose would be useless. Just as my contingency view of knowledge allows me to understand that the nature of knowledge can different with each circumstance, so to does it suggest that methods of acquiring knowledge are varied depending on the circumstances. For instance, externalization and internalization are two methods of acquiring knowledge that work best in different circumstances. Workers use the internalization of knowledge when they acquire knowledge by talking with each other or through observation (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004, p. 78). This kind of knowledge is often preferable in circumstances that require workers to rely on each other for knowledge, when tasks are uncertain, or when multiple components are included (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004). The externalization of knowledge, however, is a person's ability to put their knowledge in a form that makes it accessible to others (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004, p.78). Through one person's externalization of knowledge, then, another might acquire it. People transfer knowledge to each other through knowledge sharing, uncover knowledge in knowledge discovery, and learn knowledge, perhaps in a more traditional learning environment, through knowledge capture (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004, p.78). Knowledge can be acquired through its creation, through focused learning, through socializing, and even through accidents. A great deal of knowledge is acquired through the making of mistakes. Whether knowledge is acquired through its creation, or through a mistake, the fact that it is acquired through different circumstances emphasizes this important part of my personal knowledge philosophy. Many means of acquiring knowledge exist; the previous are just a few examples. What is most important, from a management standpoint, is that the manager or worker is looking to acquire knowledge. The manager, or worker, should constantly be playing a conversation over and over in his or head, much like the conversations that occur among scholars in literature reviews of academic articles. The open-minded manager or worker must look for the opportunities to acquire knowledge, be conscious of the fact that he or she is acquiring knowledge, and use that knowledge to a constructive end.
Personal Action Plan
My personal philosophy of knowledge, drawing heavily on the work of Beccerra-Fernandez et al. (2004) and Druker (1999), emphasizes three key areas. First, it emphasizes the nature of knowledge -- that knowledge is the most integral, intangible commodity that an organization can claim. Second, it holds that the purpose of knowledge is to achieve progressive, positive change. Third, it argues that the means of acquiring knowledge are varied, and that the most important variable in acquiring knowledge is the receptor. A person must be open-minded, willing, and conscious about acquiring knowledge to actually do so in a proficient manner.
In order to apply this philosophy to my own professional life, I will begin by honoring the importance of the nature of knowledge. As a manager who knows that knowledge is the single most important, intangible commodity to an organization, I will treat it as such. As Drucker (1999) recommends, I will treat knowledge workers as a commodity (p.84). Furthermore, I will recognize the importance of knowledge as a variable impacting success. Next, I will apply this philosophy through my understanding of knowledge's purpose. Because I am aware that the purpose of knowledge is to create change, I will be a more conscious participant in my own knowledge acquisition. I will be sure that I use knowledge in an appropriate way to inspire change. Finally, I will apply my philosophy through my understanding that the receptor is key in acquiring knowledge. I will keep an open mind regarding knowledge, enter into situations in order to acquire knowledge, and constantly review my knowledge collection in my mind.
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