Know-how verses Know-why

March 31, 2011

This concept comes from Steve Haeckel, a colleague of Dave at IBM.
Know-why knowledge is knowledge of the system and how interdependencies of the parts generate the purposeful functioning of the whole.
Know-how knowledge is process knowledge that links vertical silos (hierarchies) using best practices and tasks alignment.
With respect to what Cognitive Edge practitioners achieve in their work with organizations the following really stuck me as right on:
“Success in adapting to unpredictable change stems from good systems design [know-why], not from good process design [know-how]. …process design requires predicting in advance the inputs, desired output, and best way of producing the output.”
“Knowing why makes it possible to know earlier and respond faster [weak signals].”
Haeckel uses a process he calls “customer-back”, an exercise performed in the same way as future back, to understand the context of know-why needed. This is a natural addition to our CE toolkit.

Recent Posts

About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


< Prev
Next >

Making meaning out of apparent noise

We talk a lot about sense making and we use it to understand patterns within ...

More posts

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram