Byron's Babbles

The Knowledge Organization: Acting On Information

Posted in Educational Leadership, Leadership, Learning Organization, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 9, 2015



The “knowledge organization” is structured around information, not hierarchy. This week’s lesson from Maciariello (2014) really affirms the case for distributed leadership. Drucker believed that knowledge organizations were best made up of specialists who direct their own and the organizations work with the feedback of colleagues, customers, and headquarters (2014). Drucker called this an “information-based organization.” This means that the proper people in the organization must be able to transfer data into information. 

This converting of data into information is a crucial step that many organizations leave out or don’t figure out how to do well. This is especially true in education. I think about all of the data we have, but it is only important if we can turnip into actionable information. Maciariello (2014) used Brad Stevens, former Butler University and present Boston Celtics, basketball coach as an example. He breaks down all of the available data and then looks for trends. For example, how many three point attempts per field goal attempt. Again, he is turning the data into information. It is then the coaches jobs to make sure the players understand the information. Then the players must act on the information. If the players do not understand the information, or don’t act on it then the data/information is worthless. This is the flow of information to information literacy to information responsibility.



I really like the idea presented this week of moving from data literacy to information literacy. This really involves the asking of two questions: What information does my organization need? And What information do I need? This really places the emphasis on creating useful information, not just showing a bunch of data. A major problem in education. So, for example, in education everyone always wants to look at growth data. I contend the more valuable information is the benchmark data of where the student is performing right now. Isn’t that what I really need (information), if I am a teacher, right now to create a plan to get that student where she needs to be academically. If we are doing that properly, the growth will take care of itself. Trust me, it works! Remember, you must convert raw data to true information. 

True information is those data that are important to the solution of specific problems faced by the organization. The question is not “Are the data interesting?” but rather “Are the data important and useful for making decisions to solve problems and seize new opportunities?” This truly makes the conversion from data to information. Therefore we must focus data on the information needed for decision making. 



I also really like thinking about sabermetrics here, too. This was the precursor of Billy Beane’s Statcast, developed by Bill James. Billy Beane’s system took data generated by sabermetrics and turned it into useful information. His Statcast enabled him to assemble players so that their individual abilities were able to complement one another. This enabled them to “measure a player’s value in the context of the rest of the team (Macariello, 2014, p. 76).” 

Eliminate data you do not need for decision making. Eliminate data that do not pertain to the information you need. Organize, analyze, and interpret the data you need so that they become true information.

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers

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