The harmony of a triad: data – information – knowledge

Hanno Wolfram


In music, the harmony of triads is an important element to improve the quality of a piece, improving our sense of well-being and positive emotional state when we listen to it. However, such triads are also found in management studies and in our daily lives.

One of these triads is related to figures that are regularly used to measure results or quality.

William Hewlett (co-founder of Hewlett Packard) once said: “You only can manage what you measure, and what you measure gets done!” Many of the so called key performance indicators (KPIs) used in our companies follow this sentence, or at least the first half of it.

An absolute prerequisite for measuring and therefore management, are numbers. If many of them are collected in a table or spreadsheet, Microsoft has told us that these are called data.

To alter data into information, data need to be displayed graphically, at least to most of us. For the vast majority of “visual” people a picture makes it easier to assess trends or derive a specific and clear informational message from such data.

A company’s product strategy can easily be displayed and supported with such information. However, acknowledging that the details of one growth strategy vary significantly from another, the creation of information from data can pose some challenges. Questions like: “Does this information relate to our strategic objectives?” or “Will this information point us in the right strategic direction?” should be mandatory components if you want to achieve and support a coherent and consistent strategy.

The third tone of the triad is therefore the most important and reflects the question “How can I create knowledge out of this information for me or my company.” They say we are living in the era of information today but where is the knowledge in your company?

Clearly it does not seem sensible for such knowledge to be stored in the heads of a few, but instead available to a wider audience. So how can knowledge be disseminated as widely as possible across the organisation? At the end the critical question is therefore how we can transfer all this information into knowledge accessible by all concerned.

The necessary pre-conditions, often found within IT systems, are available, allowing us to intone the valuable and value adding triad of transforming data into information and at the end create accessible knowledge.

Pitifully this triad only can rarely be enjoyed.

About the author:

Hanno Wolfram is the Founder of Innov8 Software &amp, Training, located in Germany. For enquiries about this article he may be contacted at

Innov8 is dedicated to change for the better through implementing the coherent and consistent execution of strategy. In the last 10 years, it has delivered projects in more than 25 countries and addressed thousands of representatives and their managers on 4 continents. Through integration with a network of professionals dedicated to the extraordinary power of the Innov8 methodology, it is following the core guideline and the starting point of any change in organisational behaviour and adult education in general: “I love to learn, but I hate to be taught!”

 Triads 1

As a medical representative, which of the 5 territories above would you choose to work in and why, based on this data and without further information?