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Integrating Program Management and Systems Engineering by Eric Rebentisch

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FOREWORD: PRACTICES, KNOWLEDGE, AND INNOVATION

Documented knowledge and associated practices exist as far back as the earliest civilizations. Some of the first written documents are speculations about what is known and what isn't. However, because of the way the English language works, the word “knowledge” stands for a fairly large variety of “things.” We talk about mathematical theorems and computer algorithms as being knowledge essential to math and computer science. But we also talk about the knowledge of a skilled surgeon or carpenter—a type of knowledge that is quite a different thing than formulae and completely codified signals.

Philosophers, beginning with Aristotle, marked this distinction by breaking the word knowledge into two distinct categories: know‐what and know‐how. The former focuses on knowledge that is self‐contained, codified, and cheap and easy to transmit from one knower to another. The latter is about the type of knowledge that is much closer related to skills, expertise, talents, and practices. This latter type of knowledge is much more contextual than know‐what, is difficult and sometimes impossible to codify, and is expensive and time‐consuming to transmit, if it can be done at all.

Most of the knowledge we work with in our daily lives is know‐how. It spans such mundane tasks as getting to work to the actual tasks and work we perform as part of our career activities. However abstract it may seem, all these activities are embedded in practices. So what ...

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