Where is the Wisdom we have lost in knowledge?  Where is knowledge we have lost in information?  – 1934, T.S. Eliot, “The Rock”  

Today an individual is bombarded with “data.” They often get buried in data as they try to make decisions.  The unfortunate part about this deluge is that many, if not most, people assume that they are getting “information.”  This is usually a wrong assumption.  Data is input, raw numbers, basic observations, etc.  For the purposes of this discussion, Data is

We get hit with input constantly as various instances the same way that sand hits the windshield of your car when driving on a dirty road.  It is nearly impossible to see the individual grain of sand but over time the windshield gets very dirty.

Since we are in search of something more meaningful than random dust patterns, data must run through some function to create information.

Where F is a function that could be mathematical, statistical, logical, combinational, empirical, quantitative, anecdotal or qualitative.  Information is obviously more useful to us because is creates a relationship or pattern on which to base a decision.  This is both a good and a bad thing.  It is good because it allows for better decision processes and, on the other hand, is bad because it can be confused with knowledge.  Just because something occurs five times in a row, it does not mean that it will happen again or not happen again. Exceptions will always occur and how we deal with the exceptions is how we become knowledgeable.  Knowledge in many respects is the ability to know what to ignore and what to act on.  The only true way to develop knowledge is time:

Knowledge carried to an exponential growth from personal experience (Pe) is how wisdom develops and flourishes

Wisdom does not happen overnight.  Clearly, there are many cultures that look to older persons for their wisdom because they have “been there, done that.”  It is interesting that “Been there, Done that” is based on the above formula definition/progression.

There are many examples today of where not following the formula is causing people to get in trouble.  When today’s models start falling apart, they really did not have the appropriate information, knowledge, and personal experience to fall back on their wisdom to react to the changes and take appropriate actions.

So what is the bottom line?

  • Concentrate on information rather than data
  • Track knowledge as it develops over time
  • Expand your personal experiences so that wisdom can flourish