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  • Writer's pictureSean Ossont

Knowledge Will Lead Community Organizations

Non-profit, community-based organizations (CBOs) continue to find themselves walking on a balance beam that is seemingly becoming narrower over time and shaken with the advent of COVID-19 as the role of the CBO is extended to new levels, creating greater instability. Governments further delegate responsibility to CBOs and rely on them to deliver more with less and are pushed to demonstrate the benefit they bring to their constituents through anticipated value-based arrangements.  

However, CBOs are uniquely positioned and have the opportunity to become critical data gatekeepers and repositories of local data. Obviously valuable for their own purposes, these data are also useful to other organizations and government agencies. To pursue this opportunity, CBOs need to adopt knowledge management principles.  

As explained in this blog post by OntoText, Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) is a common and widely accepted hierarchical model for knowledge management and often referred to as the DIKW Pyramid. Simply put, it’s a model to look at various ways of extracting insights and value from all sorts of data. Whether it is big data or little data, it does not matter.

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) Pyramid

With a baseline understanding of the hierarchical relationships of the DIKW model, let’s explore each of the sections, starting at the base of the pyramid. 

DIKW Pyramid Components

Data are “characteristics or information, usually numerical, that are collected through observation”, according to the Glossary of Statistical Terms. Raw data alone has minimal to no meaning, until context is applied. The insertion of context provides information, the next component of the pyramid.

Information is data that has been systemized in an organized and logical way to provide meaning to the data. The “who”, “what”, and “where” of the data are answered at the information stage.

Knowledge is when the “how” is applied to the information at hand. Knowledge has been described as “a mental structure, made from accumulated learning and systematic analysis of Information.” Once knowledge and insights are used for decision-making, the wisdom tier of the pyramid is reached.

Wisdom is the use of knowledge in predictions and actions. Wisdom harnesses the power of judgement and intuition in decision-making to achieve desired outcomes. 

DIKW Pyramid Ascend to Greater Insights

This image, created by Sean Wood, illustrates the benefits of the DIKW Pyramid climb. Highlighted are two perspectives that will evolve during this journey: context and understanding.  The context ascend begins with gathering parts and then connecting them to ultimately looking at the big picture, understanding moves from research to analyzing to decision-making. During this journey, one draws from the past to define its futures, with goals, outcomes, and value.

The challenge…

Few progressive CBOs have evolved into knowledge-based organizations, given constrained budgets, workforce challenges and new demands of service - all of which have been multiplied with the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology and the data it supports are increasingly becoming an imperative to manage daily business operations and service, develop innovative solutions, negotiate contracts, and create data-driven grant opportunities.

Non-profit, community organizations need to embrace their position to capture data and advance it into knowledge and ultimately wisdom. Yes, it is a difficult time, but the time is now to make the pivot while many eyes are on you to transform and share the value you bring to struggling populations. Knowledge will lead you to that transformation. 

Continual Care Solutions has built a platform to facilitate the DIKW journey. Request a demo here.

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