Creating new knowledge is an intuitive human endeavour and it brings value and change to individuals, companies and society by shedding light the patterns, practices, inconsistencies and paradoxes in the observed world. Knowledge creates competitive advantage for organisations and corporations because researching existing problems triggers learning episodes and helps to identify resolutions. These learning episodes follow predictable adapt, learn and innovate cycles where considered actions based on knowledge are fed back into further discovery. The organisational journey of knowledge discovery changes the business view of the world and a learning organisation should leverage this wisdom to better inform the decisions, products and service offerings made in their interactions with customers.
The growth in data digitisation and storage, utilised by machine learning and artificial intelligence increases the capacity of organisations and individuals to grow and create new knowledge about themselves and other parties. This investment in information storage reflects the view of the organisation as a rational learning machine that engineers transition through technology. This rational learning allows the business to grow and change as an organic entity would, as a result of the social action this learning brings about. Learning brings organisations and individuals towards an understanding of the true nature of action in the problem domain.
The search for reality is, of course, not an objective measure. As social animals embedded in an environment we only have partial control, and our worldview may be replaced in future by more accurate models. In the interim, knowledge is used to construct the understanding, meaning and, therefore, the actions which we undertake. In which case, reality becomes merely a series of experiments with the truth, a best guess approximation of the way things are in the world.
The search for knowledge begins with questioning the view of reality we already hold. To ask the best questions you need to have and understanding of how to create new knowledge. There are many routes to knowledge from questions, but the longest established and most generalizable is the application of following scientific method to prove or disprove hypotheses about the nature of reality by using observation and statistical inference to ascertain where the ‘true’ reality lies. Discovering new knowledge involves querying the status quo, validating the new viewpoint and introducing change.
The methods used to investigate questions of reality must adapt to, explain or discount the distractions of many influences and cross-field concerns. Some phenomena may have impacts in different areas with the same common root cause. Seeking the root cause by observing the problem manifestations and causes indicates where action is needed.
Change is necessary where our deeper understanding of ‘why’ we carry out actions does not tally with our understanding of how the underlying mechanisms through which reality makes itself known works. Understanding how the world works challenges attitudes, which in turn affect our intentions and motivations, and this is reflected in behaviour.
In management research the theory-practice gap can be uncovered to give insight into how the vision of reality converges or diverges from the opinions of others. These others can be shareholders, auditors, banks, and customers. They are the external Subject Matter Experts that matter.
Combining the results of rational analysis with the moral compass of social awareness promotes the wellbeing of both customers and the companies. Embedding a change and growth mind set allows growing the size of the pie to increase the portions of it that go to the organisations, the customers that support it and the community that sustains it.
Implementing changes and insights gained through technology use poses challenges. If our view of reality is not fixed, then valid challenges to that reality and the way things are interpreted may be resisted or blocked, with the result that the cultural changes and adaptation that should flow from increased knowledge will fail to deliver benefit.
Responsibility for, and acceptance of the changes proposed as a result of knowledge discovery, depends upon the reputation of the communicating party who relies on social norms and values in assuring others of their intentions.
This is why shouldering the responsibility of managing stakeholders in organisations, not shirking the duties of compliance, and earning the trust of customers through consistent and ethical corporate behaviour benefits positive organisational change implementation and service innovation.