Knowledge is Power — NOT!

Knowledge is power. All of us know this slogan.  Those of us in the knowledge professions use it when needed as a banner of professional pride and aspiration.

It sounds reassuring, and probably had major validity when Francis Bacon coined it nearly 400 years ago during the Enlightenment.

The problem is — it simply is not true.  In terms of the politics of the modern organization, KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER.  Or, in mathematical terms:

knowledge power intel a

Please read on to find how I reached this conclusion, and what its implications are.

Production and use

I created the Knowledge Value Chain® framework in 1996 to address what I had seen as a persistent and critical gap throughout my career — that the production of knowledge on the one hand, and its use or application on the other, were largely treated and managed as separate and distinct functions.  I came to believe this shortcoming was key to many knowledge/ intelligence malfunctions, and starting giving talks about knowledge-value chains being broken.

The KVC model has two halves — the PRODUCTION half (Data-Information-Knowledge), and the USE half (Decisions-Actions-Value).  In an ideal situation, the two halves work together as a seamless ‘engine’ of organizational awareness.

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    COMPETING IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY is written by Timothy Powell, an independent researcher and consultant in knowledge strategy. Tim is president of The Knowledge Agency® (TKA) and serves on the faculty of Columbia University's Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) graduate program.


    "During my more than three decades in business, I have served more than 100 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500s to government agencies to start-ups. I document my observations here with the intention that they may help you achieve your goals, both professional and personal.

    "These are my opinions, offered for your information only. They are not intended to substitute for professional advice."


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    The contents herein are original, except where otherwise noted. All original contents are Copyright © TW Powell Co. All rights reserved.

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    E SCIENTIA COPIA. Knowledge is the Engine of Value.