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knowledge and intelligence

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[analysis] [confidence] [decision] [explanation] [google, googling] [intelligence] [judgement] [knowledge] [learning] [monster] [organizational intelligence] [practice] [scholarship] [trundle] [WIGO - what is going on]

How do we know what we know?  How do we know what we don't know?
How do we practise what we preach?  And what is going on when we attempt to preach what we practise?



An attempt to understand the underlying structure or process or causality of an existing situation or artefact, or of a projected intention or demand.
Veryard Project Papers Three Levels of Analysis


A form of knowledge relating to predictability, stability and trust, produced by an act of assurance. Negation of risk.

Privileged access to knowledge, granted (in confidence) to trusted insiders.

Decision / Judgement

Decision-making can be punctuated in different ways, in order to emphasize different aspects of the process, and this yields three contrasting frameworks or views, each dividing a decision into three parts.
Herbert Simon Geoffrey Vickers Jacques Lacan
Focus Rational Choice Value Time
Parts Search (Intelligence)



Value Judgement (Evaluation)

Reality Judgement (Appreciation)

Action Judgement

Instant of Seeing

Time for Understanding

Moment of Decision

The IT (decision-support) agenda has been dominated by the Simon view, and has neglected alternative views. Vickers emphasises the subjective and value-laden nature of intelligent judgement. Lacan offers a useful way of understanding haste and delay in decision-making.

Course Material Decision-Making (pdf)
Further Material Decisions, Decisions

Pitfalls of Decision-Support - Hamlet and the Delphic Oracle

Who controls the criteria by which you will be judged?

Reading List


Explanation may be an act of interpretation or of displacement.

When you can explain one of your primary constructs in terms of something else, it may cease to be a primary construct.

Blocks in physics have come from trying to understand the world as objects rather than fields. Physics throws away the concept of object in order to explain objects.

We understand COMPONENT by decomposing it into COMPONENT SPECIFICATION, COMPONENT INTERFACE, COMPONENT IMPLEMENTATION, and so on. When we look at the metamodel, COMPONENT has now vanished, and is represented implicitly by a cluster of related concepts.

Google, Googling

Googling has become the standard approach for finding information on the Internet, and the google is a powerful research tool for professional and private purposes - from serious scholarship to idle curiosity.

By far the leading google at present is the one maintained by the Google company. However, there are many other search engines around, whose differences may seem important, but which fall into the same general class and possess many of the same general characteristics. 

Veryard Project Papers Googling at Google


General Intelligence How a complex system behaves in relation to knowledge, complexity and change. Practical cognitive ability. more
Business Intelligence
(Military Intelligence)
Actively collecting, interpreting, and using vast quantities of complex data. more
Collaborative problem-solving between people and technical artefacts within and beyond complex enterprises. more
The capacity to acquire and use knowledge effectively for personal and organizational learning. more
Authentic and flexible engagement with the demands of the environment - sometimes called Requisite Variety.


Knowledge management addresses how ideas, information and intellectual property are developed, disseminated and deployed within the organization, or between organizations.
Veryard Project Papers Knowledge Management


Learning is usually described as an acquisition of something: a person gains knowledge or skills, an organization gains capability or maturity.

Learning may also involve replacing bad habits with good habits, or changing preferences and values. Something or somebody may be "an acquired taste". (But who gets to define what counts as a bad habit?)

Learning can also involve an irreversible change. Although we may forget the details of something, we can never go back to never-having-known.

Veryard Project Papers What do we learn when we practise?


A special case or exception, used to challenge a model or practice.
Veryard Project Papers Models and Monsters

Organizational intelligence

Some organizations are characterized by what can only be called crass stupidity. They fail to detect even the most obvious signals of change in their environment, and they fail to respond appropriately - or at all - to the most insistent demands from their stakeholders. They learn slowly, making the same mistakes repeatedly without any insight or understanding.

In contrast, some organizations display the same qualities that we can recognize in intelligent people:

Most organizations lie somewhere in between these two extremes.

To make an intelligent organization, it isn't enough to recruit the brightest people, locate them in state-of-the-art office buildings, and provide them with the smartest computer tools and networks. Super-intelligent individuals are often poor at talking to one another and sharing knowledge, let alone coordinating their work effectively. Each individual may only make a given mistake once, but if the people don't talk to each other, the same mistake can be repeated hundreds of times without any organizational learning.

And even if an organization is collectively oblivious to major threats and opportunities in its environment, that doesn't mean that the individual employees are unaware of these threats and opportunities. Intelligent people get very frustrated and demotivated in stupid organizations - they can see what is happening, and they can often see what needs to be done, but they don't have adequate channels of communication or action.

Veryard Project Papers Notes on Intelligence

Organizational Intelligence


The physical or practical embodiment of knowledge or skill.

In some contexts, practice is distinguished from performance. This sets up an often misleading separation between actions intended to acquire or develop something, and actions intended to exploit or display it.

Veryard Project Papers Best Practice

What do we learn when we practise?


The process by which butterflies are transmuted into caterpillars. [Jerry Fodor]
Veryard Project Papers AntiPatterns of Scholarship


Trundling: Churning through books, documents and other secondary sources - and losing the ability to think for oneself.

"The scholar expends his entire strength in affirmation and denial, in criticizing what has already been thought - he himself no longer thinks." [Nietzsche, Ecce Homo]

WIGO (what is going on)

An important aspect of intelligence and judgement is the ability to tune into the world. Vickers calls this process Appreciation, while Weick calls it Sensemaking.

The world we are trying to "tune into" (appreciate, make sense of) is partly in our heads (or in our systems) and partly "out there". Some people refer to this world as "reality". But the term "reality" is presumptive, because we don't know (and we may never know) how much of it is external, how much of it is fixed/absolute or dynamic/relative.

So we prefer to use the term WIGO - WHAT is going on, what IS going on, what is GOING on, what is going ON.

Our knowledge and understanding of WIGO is rarely direct, but is mediated (screened) by technology and systems. We pick up the world through television and other media, through web portals and GOOGLE, through monitoring instruments and management information systems. Scientists learn about the world using telescopes and particle accelerators, scanners and filters. 

Veryard Project Papers WIGO


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This page last updated on June 22nd, 2004
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