Three Stands of MATURE: Content, Processes, and Semantic Structures

To further refine the view of the maturing process, we also have to broaden our view to include the knowledge assets that are vital for the working and development of any kind of network or organisation. These assets are of three kinds: contents, processes and semantics. Contents such as documents, images, videos etc. certainly play a central role. However, they only provide a static picture of the world. We see a need to also include knowledge assets that are more tightly related to the actual work process, the dynamic aspect of the organisation. Large organisations already support this by developing business process models and workflows. For SMEs this approach is much too cumbersome, since the organisational learning processes are much more agile and the costs of modelling approaches are considerable. A more suitable approach for SMEs is a solution that enables recording and sharing of individual work practices. For inter-linkage of assets we have to take the semantics into account. Semantics connects the different assets and supports the individual learning process by providing the basis for mutual understanding. This is especially important if we focus on a grassroot approach that is to encourage people to contribute their individual views, experiences and insights. Without a semantic integration such an approach would get stuck in misinterpretations and lengthy negotiation processes.

The knowledge assets contents, semantics, and processes are the three stands of MATURE. These three stands are closely interwoven and they depend on each other in various respects. Contents and processes require semantics to become communicable. Therefore semantics is the fundament for every community-based approach and fosters collaboration between individual knowledge workers. Without process integration semantics and contents are not directly applicable to work procedures so that additional transformation efforts by the knowledge workers are required. Finally contents are required to explicate semantics and processes so that these are comprehensible to knowledge workers with different backgrounds. While semantics and processes focus on the actual doing contents aim at understanding and reflection. Summing up, a development of one of these stands alone will end up in incoherencies and thus decrease the efficiency of the organisation. A change in one of them always induces changes in the others. The three stands appear in different ways depending on the level of interaction.

Figure 2: Artefacts in the Knowledge Maturing Process

Figure 1 shows that the abundance of knowledge assets decreases as maturity progresses: While there are many notes and even communication artefacts at the beginning of the process, formal training materials, like e-learning courses, are rather scarce at its end. The Figure 1 shows that the maturing process covers all three levels of interaction, from individual to organisational, and is accompanied by a process of guidance. This process of guidance relates to the influence of the organisation on the behaviour of communities and individuals. In general, as maturity increases, so does guidance. This is reflected in the type of assets at the various phases of maturity. For example, a corporate process standard usually influences behaviour more strongly than a task pattern.

As the process of guidance already indicates the development should not be misunderstood as a continuous linear process. On the contrary, maturing is made up of a complex pattern of individual steps. Knowledge assets usually are not developed up to the ultimate maturity phase, some of them are discarded; others are combined with other assets at various maturity levels, or split up into more differentiated assets.