Support Planner:  Knowledge Work


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See also...

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Using knowledge to constructing better practices

The fundamental principle here is that knowledge, actions, arrangements and ongoing conversations cannot be meaningfully separated:

  • we use data/information in everyday conversations)

  • to continually construct and reconstruct the knowledge and arrangements we need

  • to make sense of what is happening

  • to be able to act

  • and thus respond to what is happening


And it is the actions that make a difference!!



Based on the above model there are

three zones of knowledge work (each with its own sets of practices)

that we all engage in and that need attention

  • acting in situations: e.g., teaching, supervising, supporting, learning, responding, initiating....

  • information processing based on data derived from the situation and/or introduced information (plans, policies, expectations...)

  • making (shared) sense of our activity, experiences and the information at hand in everyday conversations

  • designing and committing to responses (actions and arrangements)


Knowledge is constructed in conversations (sometimes with our self) as we attempt to make sense of our (shared) activities and experiences. This sense-making leads to insights, hopes and/or concerns.


And it is certainly much more than just collecting data about situations!! That is called record keeping.


"Knowledge is a voluntary act, if people trust each other they will share.  If they work together and create interdependencies then they will share.  If the context requires it even political rivals will share.  Good management (including knowledge management) is about creating the right sort of environment and interactions." - Dave Snowden

Sense making

We continually construct (and reconstruct) our knowledge to be able to respond to situations (act) with which we engage. In doing so we may give consideration to (make sense of)

  • our observations of the immediate and related situations

  • our experiences and activities (current and previous)

  • information provided by others (their hopes, concerns, experiences, observations, requirements...)

  • possible futures (anticipated future experiences)

  • the framework of rules, values and practices that applies in our community/school...

  • the tools that are available to us

Successful practices

To be successful we need to be able to make responses that are matched to the situation. The wider the range of situations to be resolved, the greater variety of responses required (law of requisite variety). 


The Support Planner is a structured tool (database) that allows groups of users considerable flexibility in how they manage the data. The aim has been to 

  • match the Planner components to the everyday activities that users undertake

  • enable users to readily construct the knowledge required to undertake their everyday activities from the data collected 

  • enable users to readily give an account of their actions

  • the core strategy in the above approach has been to minimize 'hard wiring' of options in the Planner

  • this in turn enhances professional learning as users re-construct their practices in response to the possibilities that arise from the flexibility of the Planner, eg, through the use of clever coding

Concepts to Knowledge

It is necessary to continually construct  and reconstruct our 

  • Concepts* - how we recognize things
  • Data - records of events, characteristics,
  • Information - organized, selected &/or summarized data
  • Knowledge* - related information to enable prediction as a basis for effective action
  • Wisdom - knowing if and when to act on the basis of the available knowledge

in a process of on-going 'sense making'.

                     [* requires direct human initiative]

Data to Knowledge

Most cost-effective action is well informed action! This means making sense of our experiences and responses (actions) by having and sharing

  • core concepts: identifying what is really meaningful
  • easy access to the quality data: timely, comprehensive, well presented 
  • easy maintenance: minimum data and helpful data management tools
  • key information: that prompts and informs best action
  • effective action: leads to success and well-being



Only knowledge related to physical laws is current (we can assume with some confidence that such knowledge is always true in equivalent  situations)

All other knowledge is at best 'historical' - it was true if we understood it correctly, hence, knowledge needs to be continually constructed and reconstructed. For current purposes, this 'knowledge' is usually information at best.


'Knowledge' is not transferable because it moves down a level when it is exchanged

  • One person's knowledge become information for the next person
  • One person's information becomes data for the next 

And the data exchanged depends on the related concepts held by the recipient: "The message communicated is the message received".

Example: a teacher's deep knowledge of the often incredibly difficult circumstances, and limited capabilities, of many his/her students and their families becomes data (number of suspensions, literacy benchmarks) by the time it reaches the school system.

Implications: Since being able to respond (action) requires knowledge (rather than data) 

  • it is usually necessary to reconstruct the required knowledge from the data
  • organizations need to be knowledge driven and not just data driven

Information processing (Summerdale)

  • Define – what do I really want to know?
  • Locate – where can I find what I need?
  • Select – what data do I really need?
  • Gather – how can I bring it together
  • Organize – how can I make it easy to use?
  • Present – how can I make it available?
  • Assess – what am I learning from this?

About information

Only people can make sense of information

Tasks with information

  • identify key data & likely sources
  • gather
  • organize into information
  • consider related information à knowledge
  • in a convenient, meaningful & timely fashion

Information tools are used for action

Rationale for using a database (an information tool)

  • everyone's actions are well informed
  • helps achieve success & well-being for all


Design & development

  • Customize database to procedures
  • Working knowledge - data entry, reports
  • Cost effectiveness - depends on
    • whole school arrangements,
    • consistency of use,
    • integration into everyday activities…

Knowledge underpins the student support cycle

        Support Cycle






© Ivan Webb Pty Ltd 2001 onwards