Six Types of Knowledge – A Reminder from Don Simpson

We are often asking ourselves “what do we know…?” about this or that. But what kind of “knowing” are we looking for? My colleague Don Simpson of the Innovation Expedition reminds us that there are six kinds of “knowing” and that all have their place in our understanding of complex challenges or problems. The six kinds of knowing

>    Know-what:  is knowledge about specific facts

>    Know-why:  scientific knowledge with an emphasis on technological and product advances

>    Know-how:  refers to skills or competencies, involves knowledge required to transform the know-what and know-why into action which accomplishes a task or produces something

>    Know-who:  knowledge about who knows what and who knows how to do what

>    Know-relationships:  an understanding of the importance of collaboration and of the variety of models by which different individuals collect, process, store, utilize and share information

>    Know-knowledge:  an understanding of the new nature of knowledge as an economic resource and how knowledge can be both an input and an output of process”

In any attempt to understand a challenge all six kinds of knowing are important. For example, knowing who and their know-relationships has an impact in our acceptance of their ideas and understanding. Understanding the connections between current knowledge and related knowledge (know-knowledge) – what we might term epistemology – helps us build a knowledge map which shapes action, innovation and ideas.

Many of us focus on too narrow a range of “knowing” for us to know enough to act. We need to embrace as many of the ways of knowing as we can if we want to tackle “swampy” problems.

By Stephen Murgatroyd -