In this chapter Peter Senge discusses a practical approach to applying complexity theory to organizations that might focus on such basic concepts as leadership and the importance of relationships.
As I’m sure many of you know—as all of you in business certainly know—knowledge management is what would qualify as a fad today. It is remarkable how much time, and money, and all sorts of resources we can invest in something that people can’t even define. There is a very strong tendency for us to define knowledge as information, or, to place it the other way around, for us to regard information as if it is knowledge. I don’t know what the world’s greatest definition of knowledge is; I can only tell you what has been helpful for us in our work: It is know-how. I’ve always found a really useful definition of knowledge to be the capacity for effective action. Therefore, learning in that sense is about the enhancement of capacity for effective action. Although that is very simple, and undoubtedly has some limitations, it gets away from the confusion that knowledge is somehow information. People say that knowledge isn’t quite information; it’s like really important information, or like really big information, or there’s something really different about it. I don’t think any of those definitions ends up adding much of value.