Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Weekly KMbits & KMbytes 23-29 January 2011

Today’s KMbyte: Is intuition an unconcious form of knowledge?

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Confucius

Today’s KMbyte: Why is it important for knowledge to flow and not become stagnant?

No single logic is strong enough to support the total construction of human knowledge. – Jean Piaget

Today’s KMbyte: What are the cultural impacts of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) on the contemporary web?

All of our knowledge begins with experience. – Immanuel Kant

Today’s KMbyte: What links scholarship/academia (formal knowledge), to individual experience (informal knowledge) & public policy?

Knowledge is of two kinds; we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. – Samuel Johnson

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. – Anais Nin

Today’s KMbyte: How is knowledge related to our environment?

Today’s KMbyte: Should knowledge have a price?

Today’s KMbyte: How are the new forms of scholarship using social media changing academic institutions?


Featuring A Knowledge Mobilizer: David Phipps

David Phipps is Executive Director of Research & Innovation Services at York University in Toronto, Canada. He is responsible for the management and support of research services (research grants and contracts, technology and knowledge transfer); participates in strategic planning; negotiates research contracts and grants, manages research data and develops research performance measurements; ensures compliance with government policies and the University mandate.

He is also nationally and internationally recognized as a Knowledge Broker and actively involved in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) as a Knowledge Mobilizer.

David helped build the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York (along with a great KMb team), developing ResearchImpact – Canada’s knowledge mobilization network. David’s keen interest and involvement has taken KMb from an early “pet project” of interest several years ago to participating and contributing today at both the national and international levels of knowledge brokering and policy making.

RIR Network

The KMb Units help to train future policy-makers and increase Canada’s number of highly qualified people (HQP) by giving graduate students and post-doctoral fellows valuable experience working with a variety of stakeholders. KMb equips research trainees and their research collaborators with broader skill sets which they can then take into positions in the public, private, and voluntary sectors.

David was instrumental in inviting The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Université de Montréal to join ResearchImpact – as a truly national network recognizing both our English and French heritage – now recognized as ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche is now a ten Canadian university Knowledge Mobilization network that includes Memorial University, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Université de Montréal, Carleton University, York University, University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Saskatchewan, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and the University of Victoria.

You can also follow the ResearchImpact blog MobilizeThis! here.

David has worked with other internationally recognized KMb leaders in the United States and academics and KMb practitioners from London and Brighton U.K., Edinburgh Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Vanuatu, Ghana and Argentina.

David is also one of the recipients of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in promoting Knowledge Mobilization.

David Phipps is an experienced leader in Knowledge Mobilization and I’m pleased to present him as part of my series Featuring A Knowledge Mobilizer.

The Evolution of Knowledge Mobilization

The other day I realized I rarely open good, old-fashioned paper books anymore. As a Digital Researcher most of my time is now spent on the computer scanning cyberspace and using social media. Even my recreational reading is electronic. So, I ventured over to the home book shelve and saw Knowledge Mobilization In The Social Sciences and Humanities Moving From Research To Action. Nice “light” reading. (Actually, it’s well-organized and easy to read).

The book was written by Alex and David Bennet (who now run the Mountain Quest Institute) along with several other contributors working in cooperation with The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and published in 2007. Canada – thanks in great part to SSHRC and a variety of knowledge mobilizers and knowledge brokers – is now recognized as an international Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) leader in closing the gap between research and action, making knowledge readily accessible – and thereby useful – to any number of individuals and groups in society.

I pulled the book from the shelf and scanned through the pages again, looking back on some of the highlights (literally) that I had marked at the time. What struck me most is how – even after four years since publication – the concept of Knowledge Mobilization has evolved.

SSHRC and the authors set out to explain the emerging concept, and the book paved the way for understanding KMb at the time. But it has moved beyond the idea of a “two-way exchange of information and expertise between knowledge creators and knowledge users” to a multi-directional understanding. In the KMb process, knowledge is created and used by many individuals who are simultaneously both creators and users – constantly contributing and receiving from the flow of knowledge by unlimited sources for greater social benefit. Both researchers and research-users inform and are informed by a variety of community groups, individuals, practitioners, policy-makers and other researchers and research-users (aren’t we all researcher-users?)  in an intertwined process. The book only briefly touches on these connections as collaborative entanglementBut this is at the heart of understanding KMb today.

The book’s definition:

Collaborative entanglement means to purposely and consistently develop and support approaches and processes that combine the sources of knowledge and the beneficiaries of that knowledge to move toward a common direction such as meeting an identified community need.

To update and enhance this definition I remove the out-dated “two-way” implication of “source” and “beneficiary”. This provides a more integrated and inclusive understanding of the ongoing contributions to the KMb process that (can include but) spans beyond a bounded community for the  benefit of society as a whole.

An updated definition:

Collaborative entanglement means the involvement of any variety of individuals who purposely and consistently develop and support approaches and processes that combine sources and benefits of knowledge in the  process of moving toward a common direction such as meeting an identified community need while also contributing to the greater benefit of society.

The “two-way view” was part of an initial approach to fund university-based research Knowledge Mobilization initiatives that would benefit both researchers and non-academic stakeholder communities. We now recognize that non-academic communities and individuals contribute to the KMb process with collaborations that are not always so easily defined in such a linear fashion.

Although the book is a good start – especially for its application to the social sciences and humanities, it seems rather formulaic, and overly-definitional in its approach to something that has grown in application, experience and understanding – no doubt due to its early explanatory approach. To their credit, the authors state that the book is intended as an idea-generator and resource, and is not prescriptive.

Yet, the authors use somewhat complex models and methodological frameworks to overly-complicate and explain KMb. For less complicated explanations see here and here.  The book is a seminal work exploring the concept of KMb, but suffers somewhat of an identity crisis in interchanging KMb with Knowledge Management (KM) at times, and even suggesting that KMb is “an evolutionary path for Knowledge Management”. I would argue otherwise. For the difference between Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) and Knowledge Management (KM) see my earlier blog here.

Although our understanding of KMb has evolved there are still some very important points that the book addresses that are still relevant today for understanding Knowledge Mobilization. This is an extensive list, but I hope you will revisit this list often and share it with others to refresh your understanding of the core elements of KMb (Consider it the Coles Notes version).

  • Knowledge mobilization (KMb) brings knowledge, people and action together to create value. KMb goes far beyond the dissemination of knowledge from source to beneficiary, researchers to community. It is not just knowledge transfer, and while dynamic knowledge brokering is essential in terms of identifying stakeholders, building networks and relationships, and designing activities to nurture knowledge shairng, this is still not enough. KMb embeds knowledge generation (creation) and knowledge use within the core of community and organizations (Clark & Kelly 2005).
  • Knowledge Mobilization is a process comprised of a number of processes.
  • New thoughts and behaviours emerge and then build on other thoughts and behaviours and then become mixed with yet another set of thoughts and behaviours.
  • We call such mixing, entwining and unpredictable associations the process of entanglement, with the end result being impossible to trace retrospectively.
  • The need and challenge for knowledge mobilization processes arise from the increasing change, rising uncertainty and growing complexity of local and global environments.
  • The process of collaboration and learning is consitent with, and supportive of, the relevance and importance of collaborative advantage in the global economy.
  • The creation of knowledge occurs whenever people are thinking, feeling, learning and interacting.
  • The KMb approach seeks to facilitate the learning and sharing of knowledge through the conscious development of connections, relationships and the flow of information.
  • Knowledge without action is wasted; action without knowledge is dangerous.
  • Wisdom is the capacity to apply knowledge for the balanced and longterm benefits of Life.
  • Collaboration and participation transcend paradigm limitations. Systems constrain, people explore. Everyone can learn, be creative, grown and contribute. Since no one has all the answers, everyone benefits via collaborative work experiences. Since individuals have their own paradigm, collaboration and knowledge exchange break open limiting paradigms and thereby create more options for the effective use of knowledge.
  • Knowledge has no inherent value in terms of goodness. It is how it is used that conveys value.
  • The benefits of KMb are not always immediate or easily recognizable.
  • The process of KMb can touch people in personal ways. The potential offered by knowledge – at the core of KMb – simultaneously intersects with the self and humanity, the internal and the external, in such a way as to offer the potential to make a difference for individuals and communities. As connections and relationships build and knowledge is shared, understood and applied, a number of shifts occur.
  • KMb requires an inclusive – not exclusive – approach, all voices are heard, representative of diverse points of view and open minds.
  • As citizens increasingly recognize that organizational and national boundaries are artificial constructs in a connected global world, the Industrial-age value creation found in individual economic structures is diminishing as the value created through collaborative advantage escalates.
  • Building bridges between people creates networks  that drive the future.
  • Knowledge has the ability to mobilize people by creating an atmosphere of collaboration, producing common vision, and leveraging shared understanding.
  • Learning is the process that creates new meaning from experience and new capabilities for action. Knowledge is the result of learning.
  • Learning underpins the entire KMb process – whether that learning is occuring in researchers, research assistants, students, practitioners, community leaders, policy-makers or other members of the stakeholder community.
  • Social learning can occur when individuals with experience and knowledge share their understanding with each other through conversations, storytelling, or dialogue.
  • With the realization that what is memorized today may not make sense tomorrow, the mindful learner looks for patterns that communicate deeper value for the future.
  • Knowledge cuts across cultural, racial, geographical and gender issues.
  • KMb can be defined as moving knowledge into active service for the broadest possible common good.

And most important!

KMb has no beginning and no end.

KMb continues to evolve.

Qwiki: New Hybrid Social Media Search Tool For Knowledge Mobilization

While scanning Twitter and checking out interesting tweets as a Digital Researcher, I found an interesting new search tool that combines visualization, speech and text. It’s easy to use. I typed in a topic – Knowledge Mobilization – into the “Enter A Topic” box and a brief description of KMb was read aloud to me. Great combination of voice and reading.

Unfortunately, the information is a little behind the times in some topics; however, it is in the Alpha stage of development and does have an “Improve This Qwiki” button for suggestions and comments. Check it out with a topic you want to search.

Tweet a Mobilizer Event

Want to see how social media – especially microblogging on Twitter can be used to create a knowledge forum? I have been an “early-adoptor” of Twitter (as the online lingo says) and recognize microblogging as a valuable social media tool for Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) beyond the “what are you doing?” stage.

For all of my blog readers, if you’re interested in finding out more about Knowledge Mobilization and Knowledge Brokers IN REAL TIME…

Why not join me at the upcoming Tweet a Mobilizer event hosted by ResearchImpact and the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University.

It’s a great and easy-to-use way of connecting with others in the KMb community, and (as a side benefit) gain knowledge about how to use Twitter as a more effective social media tool.

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time: 12 noon to 1:00 pm EST

In order to take part in this event you must sign up for a Twitter account. If you don’t have a Twitter account, go to and click on the sign up button and follow the instructions to create a profile.

Here are the instructions on how to participate:

1- To sign in: sign into your profile on and then go to TweetChat at

2- To find us: type in KMbTaM in the ‘Enter hashtag to follow’ box

3- To join in: when you get to the conversation page, click the ‘Sign In’ button

4- To allow access: click ‘Allow’ for access

5- Tweet a Mobilizer: Type any questions, answers or comments and hit the ‘update’ button

Tweet You There!

Weekly KMbits & KMbytes 16-22 January 2011

Today’s KMbyte: Can there ever be certainty in knowledge?

When you get, give. When you learn, teach. – Maya Angelou

Today’s KMbyte: Why are knowledge communities important?

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it. – Margaret Fuller

Today’s KMbyte: Is knowledge more effective when access to it is quick enough for it to be useful?

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge. – Copernicus

Today’s KMbyte: How are intelligence and knowledge connected?

Today’s KMbyte: Who are the “bankers” for the knowledge economy?

Web 2.0 is now more frequently referred to as the “contemporary web”.

Today’s KMbyte: Who are the “bankers” for the knowledge economy?

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance. Robert Quillen

Life is not about competition. Life is about learning and becoming knowledgeable and sharing knowledge. Life is about Knowledge Mobilization

The Difference Between Knowledge Mobilization & Research Dissemination

An explanation of the difference between Knowledge Mobilization and Research Dissemination, thanks to Memorial University.

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom And The Difference Between Information Exchange & Knowledge Mobilization

Information Exchange is a term that is mistakenly applied to Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) – particularly in social media. Unfortunately, despite the developing use of the term Knowledge Mobilization, the KMb concept is misunderstood and misapplied, as are the terms Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom.

A helpful web posting on the visualization-blog Information Is Beautiful presented a “think-piece” by David McCandless titled Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom? McCandless created an impressive visual pyramid to help distinguish each category as a Hierarchy Of Visual Understanding. Although McCandless points out it’s by no means original thought, his display provides a clear categorization of each concept.

On Twitter, I recently posted a link to this visual pyramid and a popular quote from American astronomer Cliff Stoll and author Gary Schubert. Both the link and quote have relevance to understanding the difference between Information Exchange and Knowledge Mobilization.

The quote from Cliff Stoll and Gary Schubert:

Data is not information,
Information is not knowledge,
Knowledge is not understanding,
Understanding is not wisdom.

In short – just because you have some “facts” and share them doesn’t mean you’re informed, or the “facts” are useful. Nevertheless, the concepts are connected, and one needs to “know” how.

Let’s take this very example to demonstrate: I spent upwards of almost 30 minutes searching the web (from Google to Wikipedia) to find out who Gary Schubert – and which Gary Schubert – is connected to Cliff Stoll in this quote. This quote is extremely popular (3620 results on a Google Search), but all of the many webpages I searched still couldn’t tell me who Gary Schubert is and why he is connected to Cliff Stoll and this particular quote. All of the many websites and blogs that used this quote only attributed it to these two individuals by name only, and no other information. At least Wikipedia listed Cliff Stoll and it was there that I found out who he is and why he is connected to the quote – but no mention of Gary Schubert. Apart from emailing Cliff Stoll directly to find out, Gary Schubert is still a mystery to me.

Now back to McCandless’ visual pyramid to further demonstrate.

Data: The discrete elements like names, words, and numbers that categorise, calculate or quantify – like Gary Schubert’s name and the words of the quote. I have the data but I still don’t have the information about who Gary Schubert is.

Information: The linked elements like concepts, ideas, and questions that contextualize, compare, connect, filter or frame – like connecting Gary Schubert’s name to the quote and asking the question “who is Gary Schubert?” and “which Gary Schubert?” (There are 19 profiles of Gary Schubert on LinkdIn). Simply linking names with a quote and not knowing who exactly these people are is not knowledge, it’s just information.

Knowledge: The organized information into chapters, conceptual frameworks or facts – like finding out who Cliff Stoll is on Wikipedia and knowing that he is an astronomer, author and public speaker who is rightly attributed to the quote. I have knowledge about Cliff Stoll and how to connect him to the quote, but still no knowledge of the particular Gary Schubert, his connection to Cliff Stoll or the quote.

Wisdom: Applying knowledge into books, systems, beliefs, traditions, philosophies, principles and truths – like my personal belief system to stop long searches for information (in this case on Gary Schubert) by applying the knowledge that when writing a blog and using a quote it’s really not that important to provide all of the details beyond a person’s name AND that there is a likely chance that someone reading my blog may provide me with the exact information about Gary Schubert anyway! I was just curious to find out more about who these guys are that are always being quoted by name only.

So, when I use my blog to put out the question “Who is Gary Schubert and why is he connected to Cliff Stoll and this quote?” and one of my blog readers or someone else comments on this blog post and provides me with the answer- that it is Information Exchange.

When I take the data I have (the name Gary Schubert) and connect it with the information I receive about who Gary Schubert is – it becomes knowledge. When I turn that knowledge into action by posting on Wikipedia, my blog (or some other form of social communication) to make it easier for someone else to have access or contribute to this knowledge – that’s Knowledge Mobilization at its most basic level.

When research and knowledge are used to inform policy makers to make things easier for society – that’s KMb at a more complex level.  KMb is turning knowledge into action for greater social benefit. KMb encompasses a variety of knowledge transfer and exchange methods including producer-push, user-pull, knowledge exchange and co-production.

Knowledge Mobilization (like everything) starts with data, includes information that creates knowledge and becomes wisdom when used effectively to benefit society.  Ultimately, wisdom is applying knowledge for the long term benefits of life.

Weekly KMbits & KMbytes 9-15 January 2011

Today’s KMbyte: Is knowledge a skill?

Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.- Peter Drucker

Today’s KMbyte: Is knowledge more socially effective through education or experience?

A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.- Thomas Carlyle

Today’s KMbyte: What is the most significant tool to transfer and exchange knowledge for knowledge mobilization?

Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to the law of diminishing returns. – John Maurice Clark

Today’s KMbyte: Is knowledge learning from experience?

To change and to change for the better are two different things. – German Proverb

Today’s KMbyte: Can knowledge ever be complete?

If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. – Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

Today’s KMbyte: Is knowledge only our representations of “the outside world” or the ways we deal with it?

To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge. – Benjamin Disraeli

The Knowledge Mobilization Cycle: From Daily Practice to “Best” Practice And Back Again

Knowledge Mobilization is an on-going daily process. It is a continuing cycle of searching, gathering, including, researching, communicating, listening and practicing – and remembering that the process is not perfect.

Daily Practice & “Good” Knowledge:
I’ve been thinking about the ongoing, daily process of searching websites and blogs, gathering resources, and posting stuff for others to read. Each day is about timing and finding what I consider the few shiny knowledge diamonds to pull together into a daily social media Knowledge Mobilization package. Each day, sifting through the data noise I find some “good” stuff and “not-so-good” stuff. It may be valuable to some and not so much to others. So be it. That’s a part of the process of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb). But what I may consider “not-so-good” (and post online anyway) may perhaps shine light on someone else’s knowledge which can be developed further and perhaps contribute to the sparkle of other knowledge diamonds eventually.

“Best” Practice & Policy-Making:
The more important point (and result) of KMb is “best” practice and good policy-making – which depends on “good” knowledge. But “good” and “best” are relative terms. Policies are the outcomes of decision making based on “best” practice.  Policies come from the choices made based on the knowledge provided (as well as other social, political and economic influences) usually made by decision-makers – often governments establishing laws and regulations to allocate resources, as well as the funders and granting councils deciding which research to support, why and how.

Policy-Making & Daily Practice:
From policy-making comes daily practice – the everyday way we put the policies in motion, the daily processes of implementing projects and managing organisations, individuals and ourselves. It’s the extension of policies to everyday practice that begins to fully separate the “good” from the “not-so-good”.

Good Knowledge:
Good knowledge develops by the everyday sharing and analysis of our daily processes, experiences and learning – which is when effective Knowledge Mobilization really begins to emerge. It’s about the timing of making connections and developing networks to exchange knowledge. It’s about asking questions and listening to answers. It’s about understanding differences and finding common ground.

Inclusive Knowledge & Social Media:
Knowledge is also inclusive and most effective when it seeks common ground. It doesn’t mean always agreeing; it means finding the most effective solution that works through best practices. Social media is one common ground platform where knowledge develops and influence best practices. This is why social media is such an important vehicle for KMb because it provides ways of making these connections and finding common ground.

And because we are all globally connected, putting policies into best practice effects everyone. Learning from “best” practice is knowledge. As I mentioned, practices are everyday events that include all people. When we learn from local practices and see the broader application to best practices we contribute to the greater good of society. All people can be included through communication – now especially more possible by social media. All people can have a voice and contribute to Knowledge Mobilization.

The Knowledge Mobilization Cycle:
Daily practice may be “good” or “not-so-good” but it’s the daily practice that leads to researching that leads to learning that leads to sharing that leads to collaboration that leads to policy-making that leads to “best” practice that leads to re-evaluatingthe continuing cycle of Knowledge Mobilization. Re-evaluation and further research is necessary because “best” practice will change as people change and society changes. We always need to adapt and improve for future benefit – while sifting through the data noise of everyday life.

We may not always find the diamonds we’re looking for, but sometimes – like the cycle of creating diamonds – contributing to the cycle of Knowledge Mobilization is worth the effort.