Saturday, June 27, 2009

CLOSING THE KNOWLEDGE GAP BETWEEN ACADEMIA AND CORPORATE BUSINESS



Wallace Tait and Patrick Baker

What the bleep are you talking about says you. Well, if your familiar with non linear information management, you’ll get the gist. On the other hand, if you’re the linear majority, the Mr. Hyde cynicism comes into play here and starts to question with a negative outcome as its goal.

Let’s get things straight from the get go. Visual mapping is a term that defines software tools such as Mind mapping®, Concept mapping, Flow charting and Argument mapping. There are other tools we can speak of, but for the sake of this discussion, these tools enable you to realize your information management success. We’ll be concentrating on the Mind mapping software strengths and advantages.
It has been said that knowledge makes you more valuable, but that’s not quite true; the way you use knowledge is what offers value. A simple definition of knowledge used by many is: knowledge consists of information that has value.

Effective creation, organization and exchange of information are the foundational processes that must be established for success at all levels and environments.

A taxonomy which distinguishes between data, information, and knowledge is:
• Data are symbols that have not been interpreted or put into meaningful context.
• Information as data that has been given a meaning.
• Knowledge is what makes it possible for human beings to create meaning from data and thereby generate new information. (Karlöf and Lövingsson, 2005)

Gardner (1995) provided a nexus of conditions on the theme of knowledge as applied in business:

• Know what information is required (know what).
• Know how information is to be used (know how).
• Know why certain information is required (know why).
• Know where information for a particular purpose can be found
(Know where).
• Know when certain information is required (know why).

Yet, even though this is taught at universities and business schools application of these principles in the business world provide disappointing results. Now let’s get to the heart of what must be said. There is indeed a gap (read chasm) that exists between Academia and corporate business. OK, we’re stating the obvious; of course we all know this: don’t we? Maybe you don’t know, and then again, maybe you just don’t care.

We firmly believe if you’re academic and/or corporate level management, you should care: because academia is the intellectual production line that produces your future leaders. Don’t you ever scratch your head in disbelief as you employ well trained graduates from college and university level education: then realizing you have to create a training budget to integrate your future leaders into your corporate mainstream? Why do you have to do this: and indeed why should you have to do it?

Isn’t it the task of your academic colleagues, to train and equip your future leaders, to understand business management, handle information as process and to think in a systematic manner?

There are a number of answers to this question but the most obvious one is that academia work in a text and prose dominated environment – this is the nature of education, yet critical thinking and process development in its purest form is a visual pursuit. Students become skilled at assignment writing and they can be deemed to be competent at business theory but the question needs to be asked whether students are taught to translate theory into proactive in a way that encourages and enhances innovation and solutions thinking that is demanded in modern day business environments?

Thanks to Academia they do train your future employees very well, but we contest that a gap exists. What’s the gap? It’s quite simply the overlooked tools and techniques of equipping future leaders for the challenges they will face in the modern business environment.

Visual mapping: There’s a great measure of Personal, Academic and Business potential within the framework of graphical and systematic thinking, through the tools of visual mapping. So we pose the challenge. Why not teach and use visual mapping methodologies? You might be pleasantly pleased with the results.
Here’s what visual mapping can do for you, your colleagues, employees and business success.

First, visual mapping is a way to encourage thinking about information in new ways. With writing, it's easy to replicate information in a static linear way. With visual mapping, you remove the words and focus on the connections.

Second, visual mapping encourages methodologies that demand a review of concepts to demonstrate understanding. With visual mapping, unlike text, one can easily make changes and take different perspectives. In other words, it improves clarity of thinking.

Third, visual maps are easy to edit, revise, and quickly add content to and therefore well suited to adapting business strategies to ever- changing business conditions.

Fourth, visual mapping as a thinking methodology can now be used with a vast range of visual mapping software now available to businesses which creates capability for businesses to adopt visual mapping as a sensible business planning tool suited to meeting the demands of the modern business environment.

Finally and most importantly in our opinion, a huge amount of information can be shared as a single image to provide the "big view" of any business process.

It is, therefore, our belief that business methodologies taught at institutes of learning recognize that linear taxonomies of business process do not provide ‘the only way’ for fostering innovation, and that visual mapping needs to be recognized by academia as a business tool that demands merit, and that provides a nexus for connecting accepted business theory to organizational practice.

1 comment:

Kyle McFarlin said...

Yeah, not much to disagree with here. It's a linear world out there and academia is wierd in that it's upper levels are almost less conceptual than its lower. To this day, I still feel middle school was the best blend of the creativity of childhood and the linear memorization of facts to come in high school. I can't think many educators out there would be happy to hear me say that 7th and 8th grades were the most useful to me overall. I had some great teachers and professors after that, but middle school was the bomb. Middle school is also where one of my teachers introduced hand-drawn visual mapping.

Also, loved the points about the differences between data, info and knowledge. The world would be a better place if those definitions were more readily taught.