Chapter 6: Managing Data, Information, Knowledge and Action

Chapter Summary

In the past organizational excellence was defined by effectively managing people and tasks.  But this overlooks an important dimension in today’s environment: how to effectively manage data, information, and knowledge to produce appropriate actions.

The chapter presents a model for the ideal management of data, information, knowledge and action. Most organizations, though, experience a variation of the model, such as the D-I-K loop where there’s a lot of activity but no action. On the other hand, managers often create an I-A loop where they get caught up in the “program of the month” cycle.

Several ways in which the data-information relationship can be enhanced include reducing the number of links in the communication chain and using imagery to dramatize information. The information-knowledge relationship can be enhanced by organizing the same information in different ways and evaluating the credibility of the evidence. The knowledge-action relationship can be strengthened by creating strategic knowledge-sharing communities and focusing reports on actionable issues.




Case Study

Case 6.1:  Applying the D-I-K-A Model

The purpose of this case is to design the strategy and tactics to help an insurance company manage information and knowledge.

The organization’s management of knowledge and “best practices” frustrates the new CEO of a large insurance company. She has a Ph.D. in engineering and has extraordinary “people” skills. She systematically thinks through problems and demands well-reasoned arguments before implementing any changes. You are on a task force charged with recommending a strategy to better manage information. She tells your task force:

We have fax, e-mail, computer conferences, voice mail, employee publications, quarterly meetings, and just about any other media you can think of…but we still can’t seem to get our message across. Employees tend to hoard information. They share it, but only when asked. We generate reams of data and yet it rarely informs our decision-making. There is so much information out there in so many forms (much of which is redundant) that I’m confused half the time. We need to learn from each other but we don’t. What we need is a strategy that will coordinate all this information, the people and the communication media. We need to get people talking about the things that solve our real problems, add value to service and improve productivity!

Your objectives:

  1. Specify your communication strategy.
  2.  Develop the tactics necessary to implement the strategy.
  3. Provide an evaluation mechanism for the process.

Video Resources

Information Overload

  • What particular fact had the most impact on you? Why?
  • What underlying organizational problems does the clip expose?
  • Was information overload a problem in the 1700’s? 1800’s? 1900’s?

Knowledge Management

  • What did you learn about knowledge management by watching this clip?
  • How does knowledge management differ from information management?  What are some examples?
  • What attribute of knowledge is the hardest to manage? Why?




Question #1: “Representations of reality” best defines

Question #2: _____ usually takes the form of rules of thumb, theories and models.

Question #3: If a person is adept at managing data, chances are that he/she can effectively manage information, knowledge and action.

Question #4: Facts, tables and charts (such as a timeline of a victim’s activities) are examples of

Question #5: Managers who get caught up in a “program of the month” mentality by reading about the latest management fad and then trying to implement the program, fall in to what trap?

Question #6: Which of the following is true regarding information?

Question #7: Using “Product Embedded Information” is a poor way to increase the efficiency of data and information transmission.

Question #8: What are some useful rules of thumb in managing the information-knowledge relationship?

Question #9: Creating strategic knowledge sharing communities is an ineffective way to manage the knowledge-action relationship.

Question #10: According to your book, what percent of workplace learning is informal?

Question #11: What is not a recommendation your author makes about organizational reports?

Question #12: Grace Hopper was a(n)

Question #13: Adding links to the communication chain increases the quality of the information.

Question #14: According to your author, “knowing what you don’t know” is known as:

Question #15: Incomplete information is useless information and detrimental to decision making.