Above and Beyond Knowledge Management

Vincent Barabba
John Pourdehnad
Russell Ackoff

General Motors Corporation
Ackoff Center for Advanced Systems Approaches
The Wharton School


The paper begins with a description of the most important aspects of the systems approach and why most of the purveyors of knowledge management are anchored in presystemic thinking. Then a principal reason for the resistance to change displayed by organizations is described: suppression of errors, particularly errors of omission. There follows a discussion of mental content beyond knowledge: understanding and wisdom. Our changing pattern of thought from analytic to synthetic is brought into focus. Then a Learning and Adaptation Support System that has been applied at General Motors and other companies is described in detail. Finally, some examples are provided.

To appear in "Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge" edited by Nick Bontis & Chun Wei Choo (Oxford University Press).