Organizations and the nature of knowledge

Creative Generalist has a fascinating post on problem solving from a presentation given by Dr. Nancy Dixon, who spoke at a meeting called the Learning Summit in 2001.

Dr. Dixon says start with the seekers if you want answers.

This sounds familiar.   

I think that's what we see happening today on the Web. A collective body of knowledge can be collected, analyzed and acted by the group far faster than any time in history. "Peer production" makes the seeker the expert because it places the seeker, participating in a group, closer to the solution. An expert can't function apart from the collective and constantly changing body of knowledge.

I particularly liked this quote from Dr. Nancy Dixon on the disconnect between organizations and the interconnected nature of knowledge.

Most of our systems, she argues, have been designed for situations where we hire people and tell them what to do and how to do it. But, increasingly, we are hiring people for their judgment. "We're in such a changing situation that we can't rely on knowledge that exists; we have to have people continually inventing it," Dixon says.

In peer produced economies, organizations will have to change to remain relevant to the people they employ and serve. Because as an agent for shared knowledge, they're failing far too often.

"Problems are Solved by Seekers" links to a cached version of Dr. Dixon's presentation.