Knowledge Glossary


An action taken by the human mind in the acquiring, storing, evaluating, and representing of information within a context relevant to the individual. Cognition is a term applied to the act or process of knowing including both awareness and judgment. Editorial Note: Human cognition is arguably one of the most important functions in life. It separates humans from animals, and the differences in cognition from one individual to the next, dictates how we communicate, how we understand things, and even how successful we are. YET – it is a term that few people could give a definition for – right off the top of their head.


Collaboration is a process defined by the recursive interaction of knowledge and mutual learning between two or more people who are working together, in an intellectual endeavor, toward a common goal which is typically creative in nature. Collaboration does not necessarily require leadership and can even bring better results through decentralization and egalitarianism. [In this instance (only) we are using the Wikipedia definition – Collaboration]


In the knowledge supply chain model, data is defined as bits of detail that are collected as the result of an event or circumstance. This detail is typically collected to represent and/or describe elements, characteristics, or attributes of the event for purposes of further study by the enterprise. In the knowledge supply chain work flow, data are compiled and managed in the early stages of the supply chain, and are often viewed as the raw material that is to be subjected to various transformational actions to become increasingly more relevant to enterprise purpose and activities.

Examples of data might include… aspects of a marketplace event such as elements of a business transaction; attributes of personnel involved in some work activity such as respective job characteristics; elements of work performance such as time spent on a job, material cost, resource utilization measures etc.; or personal input regarding work activity or events such as personal interviews, surveys or polls.


In the language of the knowledge supply chain, the term enterprise is used in the most general sense to mean a corporation, company or organization of any kind. The term enterprise in noun or adjective form explicitly refers to the entire organization, for example including a legal entity such as a Corporation, Partnership, Joint-stock company, Trust, Voluntary association, or Guild. The Wikipedia has the simple, useful definition, “An organization is a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, which controls its own performance, and which has a boundary separating it from its environment. The word itself is derived from the Greek word ργανον (organon) meaning tool.” The term enterprise has been adopted for the knowledge supply chain model due its popular use among information and data professionals when describing systems that have overall or generalized purposes within an organization, e.g., enterprise architecture, enterprise software. enterprise storage, etc. Additionally, the term enterprise was chosen because it reminds us of the starship “Enterprise”, having the implicit intimation that when referring to the knowledge game we are headed on a new journey into the future… J

Enterprise performance

Each enterprise has (or should have) an explicitly stated vision and mission it has set out to accomplish in its chosen markets and/or other societal sectors. Accordingly the enterprise produces plans, goals, and activities to accomplish its mission. The results of enterprise activity – when compared against its plans and goals are referred to as “enterprise performance”. This term is actually a focal point of the enterprise knowledge game in that the the entire purpose of a knowledge supply chain, is to assure, improve and enhance the output of demonstrable, measurable, and verifiable results. Measures of enterprise performance are the primary indicators for the value of the impact of the knowledge supply chain on enterprise programs, projects, and other endeavors.

Executable Intelligence

Knowledge and intelligence are terms used to describe different levels of human understanding held by individuals and groups. Acquired knowledge only becomes valuable to the enterprise when that knowledge is transformed into intelligence on which individuals and systems can take action … thus the term “executable intelligence”. The primary purpose of a knowledge supply chain is to ultimately produce executable intelligence that results in better decisions, improved work performance, and enhanced value for the enterprise. In this process data, information, and knowledge must be compiled and applied by the enterprise in ways that create intelligent action, which in turn is executed for the purpose of optimizing enterprise performance. Note that for our purposes the term executable intelligence may also sometimes be referred to as “actionable intelligence”.


In the knowledge supply chain model, information is defined as summaries, abstracts, briefs, digests, overviews, etc. derived from original data that describe an event or circumstance relevant to an enterprise in action. Information is the result of processing, manipulating and organizing data in a way that improves the organization and communicative properties of data in such a way that (a) value is added that is consistent with the enterprise purpose, and (b) at some point further along in the knowledge supply chain, the information is more readily grasped by an individual, and thus adds to the knowledge of the receiver.

Examples of information might include… statistical summations of a marketplace event such as averages and correlations of a business transaction; digests of personnel participation involved in some work activity such as profiled job characteristics; detailed briefs of work performance such as comparison of metrics against standards and expectations; or personal input compendiums regarding work activity or events such as interpretive analyses and proposed cause-effects.


In the enterprise context, innovation may be associated with performance and growth through improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitive positioning, market share, etc. In the context of the Knowledge Supply Chain model, innovation describes not only some manner of significant change within an enterprise or market, but the fact that the change ultimately results in an increase in value, customer value, or supply-side value. The Wikipedia definition of innovation also includes an often important dimension… “The often unspoken goal of innovation is to solve a problem.” Link to Wikipedia definition – Innovation.


In the enterprise knowledge game, the term intelligence is often used in an ambiguous or unclear context. Intelligence is a management term which refers to the output or end result of any process of gathering data and information about a business, industry, or organizational matter, for the purpose of establishing comprehensive knowledge of the factors affecting the enterprise business. Knowledge useful for enterprise performance purposes – which sometimes may be combined with other relevant data and information – is further processed with the explicit intent of optimizing enterprise effort, thereby resulting in better decisions, improved work performance, and enhanced value for the enterprise. Intelligence is applied to virtually any aspect of enterprise functioning — sales, marketing, operations, delivery, customer service, regulatory compliance, industry relations, administration, etc.

In the language of the knowledge supply chain, executable intelligence is the last and ultimate step prior to taking action. Intelligence production processes are typically supported with tools, methods, protocols, policy, and other supplemental business components that assure complete, timely output of the desired results. In knowledge supply chain context, the term “business intelligence” (BI) can also be interpreted as synonymous with intelligence. We should be careful not to strictly apply general definitions of BI. In some enterprise operations the term BI has very clear, well publicized definitions of the BI processes, methods, tools and desired outputs. If your enterprise does not possess this kind of clarity around its BI, it would be wise to apply the stricter definitions offered by the knowledge supply chain.

SPECIAL NOTE: Although we typically hold Wikipedia definitions in high regard, in this particular instance… it has a definition for intelligence which has the rather disturbing clause, “Intelligence… is information valued for its currency and relevance rather than its detail or accuracy…” In the knowledge supply chain, this definition is inaccurate. By definition, intelligence may indeed occasionally serve its purpose in summary form, but rarely would it be sufficient for intelligence to be inaccurate. Indeed the purpose of the knowledge supply chain is to assure that the data, information, and knowledge are eventually transformed into executable intelligence. it is highly unlikely that it would be desirable for the executable intelligence used by an enterprise to be based upon an accurate input.


Knowledge is an internally possessed entity held by an individual. The knowledge held by an individual refers to the acquaintance with or understanding of a body of “cognitive data” which enables that person to apply that understanding in a future relevant context. Knowledge is in essence information, data, recollections of experiences, and observations that a person internalizes and stores in memory (or technically, all forms of that person’s consciousness). Possessing knowledge can be considered the condition of understanding of, or familiarity with a domain, subject, topic or thread – gained through experience or association, and thereby represents a range of one’s information or understanding in a given area of interest.

Within the framework of the knowledge supply chain, it is very important to understand that in the cognitive process, knowledge is acquired by an individual through an intensely personal, internal process. The human brain takes in information and/or data and processes that input into an internal context known only to that individual. From the perspective of value to the enterprise, knowledge is defined as “The sum total of all information, experience, and understanding an individual requires to adequately perform of a task.”

Knowledge Asset

An asset is a useful and desirable thing or quality that also is understood as having ownership and exchange value. Individuals and organizations possess certain understandings, awareness, concepts, methods, perspectives, etc., that may be characterized as “knowledge” and that are important to the purposes and functions of the organization. When this knowledge can be specified or defined – and preferably documented – it can be labeled a “knowledge asset”.

Knowledge Economics

Is a term for the analytical and operational disciplines used for defining the economic value of knowledge assets. It is considered a field of study, concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. This term is growing in popularity because it draws attention to assigning tangible value, including monetary value, to an otherwise intangible component of business.

Knowledge Game

This is a general term used in the Knowledge Supply Chain vernacular for purposes of informal usage and is intended as more metaphorical than ordinary language. It refers to any/all considerations made by an enterprise in the conceptualization, strategy, activity, or performance in applying its collective knowledge as an important contributing element to enterprise success. Since the term “knowledge” is itself a specific reference to a human possession, the term knowledge game was coined to refer to the entire mix of people, processes, and technology that impact the overall collective knowledge in an enterprise or organization. The metaphor of a game was purposely chosen for this generalized term, to imply that there is an associated win/loss mentality; also there is structure to the activity alluded to by this term and there are rules and guidelines for playing the game well.

Knowledge Management

We do not use this term in the context of Knowledge Supply Chain theory.

Knowledge Supply Chain

A knowledge supply chain is an integrated, coordinated system of people, technologies, processes, and resources involved in the systematic movement and transformation of bits of data and information into purposeful knowledge and executable intelligence. Similar in concept to the familiar “supply chain”, the knowledge supply chain is a logistical or structured flow of elements. These elements begin as raw materials, objects, or components — in the form of data or information — which are understood and transformed into human knowledge — which is in turn transformed into dynamic intelligence that adds value to the enterprise and causes or creates focused action.


The incentive or compelling reason for performing a Task equal to or greater than an acceptable standard of completion. In the context of Task Performance, the motivation is a self-defined rationale of an individual that urges that individual to work energetically, with determination in moving toward completion of a Task at a level well above the mere acceptable quality and quantity standards of performance.

The application of one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance of an action. This application can be in the realm of motor movement, such as dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks. Or this application can be in the form of a developed aptitude or cognitive capability.


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