Definitions

Seradigmderives from three words:

  • paradigm – a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them
  • serere - a Latin word meaning ‘to bring forth’
  • serenare – a Latin word meaning ‘to make clearer’

These concepts work together to give rise to a significant new possibility. In the past, when an organisation was operating out of a paradigm that no longer adequately described its business environment and did not give it the ability to take effective action, very deep rooted and structural change was necessary to effect the required paradigm shift. Changes in leadership, wide sweeping restructuring and layoffs, major reeducation programs were the hallmarks of this process. Today however, the introduction of complexity theory into management science provides a new approach. By increasing the degree of internal connectedness in organisations or sectors, there is a greater chance that adaptive behaviour can emerge spontaneously. Paradigms, or dominant narratives, are then able to change more incrementally.

Knowledge – knowledge can only exist in people’s heads. It includes concepts, skills, ideas, memories, beliefs. It is stored in a complex, interlinked neural network called the human brain. It is intangible, invisible, and subjective. It is transferred through conversations, through context, and through experience. Knowledge is always attached to a person or group e.g. ‘who knows that?’, ‘As a company we understand…’

Information – essentially ‘codified’ knowledge, information is the ‘carrier wave’ of knowledge. It is knowledge that is written down or recorded in some form. Information is stored and transferred on paper, in electronic documents, databases and emails, and in speech. It is tangible, objective, easily measured, easily transferred, passed around, and accumulated.

Knowledge Flow - the way knowledge travels and grows within an organisation. Some specific types of knowledge flow are:

  • Longitudinal flow – involves the transfer of knowledge up and down management reporting lines or along ‘linear’ processes.
  • Circular flow – involves knowledge sharing in cyclical planning processes.
  • Centre to periphery flow – involves the flow of knowledge and practice from the ‘core’ of the business out to its remote offices and back.
  • Lateral flow – involves the ‘sideways’ transfer and creation of knowledge between staff or units performing like or complementary roles.

Internal connections – the number of connections between participants in a complex system. Connections are many to many. The degree of internal connectedness can be measured by the degree of separation (how many hops to get from one node to the other) between randomly selected nodes. The lesser the degree of separation, the greater the degree of internal connectedness.

Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.
Muhammad Ali