The DIKW Pyramid Must Die! #KMWorld

Gordon Vala-Webb is former National Director, Knowledge Management at PwC Mnagement Services LP Canada.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2012 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • The charges against the accused. (1) Attempting KM alchemy. (2) Subverting KM novices. (3) Attempting to kill the knowledge management profession.
  • The theory of the DIKW Pyramid. The idea is that you start with an enormous amount of data which is then refined into information, and then refined again into knowledge.
  • 1st Set of Issues. What data to collect? (Conceptual framework) How to express it> (Language) What else is going on? (Context)
  • 2nd Set of Issues. What is Information? What is Knowledge? What is the difference? And, how do you accomplish the required KM Alchemy (i.e., turning the information “lead” into knowledge “gold”)?
  • The Top 5 KM Problems Resulting from the DIKW Pyramid: (5) Collection of data in the hopes that this will lead to information and, ultimately, knowledge. (4) Just-in-case collection and organization of content. (3) Build it and they will come. (2) Ignoring the context (of people, of knowledge objects). (1) The pyramid does not help you link your KM work to any business results.
  • A Path to An Alternative Model. What would we want in a new model? (1) Start from the desired business result. (2) Determine how you will link your KM strategy or intervention to that business result. (3) Focus your KM efforts and then measure your results (hopefully, your success). (4) Put people at the center as active doers. (5) Make sure it is context sensitive.


2 thoughts on “The DIKW Pyramid Must Die! #KMWorld

  1. I am not a great fan of DIKW (or its neighbour DIE) but some of the arguments put against it here refute claims that were never made for it. I have found DIKW useful at times because a) people have heard of it and b) it shows that D, I, K and W are different things and so need to be managed differently. In the alternative approach described above, DIKW could be used in step 2 do determine whether the solution required sits in D, I or K.

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