Exploring Elegant and Practical Explanation Age® Concepts: KM as Learning





Purpose: This paper reviews the elegant and practical concepts developed by John Lewis in The Explanation Age® by expanding the summary from Sisson’s 2023 Unified Theory of Knowledge Management dissertation literature review. Approach: The integrated concepts are discussed individually, as well as in relation to their implications. Contents: The Explanation Age redirects thinking with Option Outlines™, providing a means to develop and document why answers into decision-making with transparency. It introduces the unified Innate Lesson Cycle™ change model, which explains the difference between conditioning and determination to develop better answers. Based on neuroscience, Story Thinking™ recognizes that everything is in a story (unlike storytelling, which communicates only about the past and envisions the future). Story Thinking provides an approach to better execute the innate lesson cycle. The 8 Degrees of Reason™ and The Symbiotic Table of Knowledge™ provide underpinnings for the accepted endpoints for answers. Findings: The Explanation Age and Story Thinking support Lewis’s viewpoint of Knowledge Management as learning. Story Thinking can lead to transformational leadership results through collaboration. Lewis’s constructs provide an alternate view to the forensic knows, Aristotle’s causes, and Sisson and Ryan’s (2015; 2017) “11 things we know” (Sisson, 2023, figure 6-2). Research limitations: Since their 2008 inception, new implications of Explanation Age concepts continue to surface. Practical implications: Lewis’s concepts provide useful constructs for thinking and understanding learning from a KM perspective. Option Outlines provide a way to document why. “The Innate Lesson Cycle describes the phases of lesson-based learning, for both” experiential (Kolb) and rote (Skinner) learning (Lewis and Sisson, 2016; Sisson, 2023) making their concepts more useful. Story Thinking—as a practical operational strategy—extends the implementation capabilities of the Innate Lesson Cycle and provides an approach for transformational leadership. Social implications: Story Thinking as an operational concept provides new ways to identify innovative ideas and facilitate change. Sensemaking and transparency in decision-making (missing in the fundamental models used by institutions, such as agile, education, healthcare, and policy) are the basis for this (the only complete) descriptive model of change.

Author Biography

Philip Sisson, International Institute for Knowledge and Innovation

Philip W. Sisson is a retired Lockheed Martin Senior Program Manager, KM cross-division coordinator, and KM best practices track leader. He has degrees in mathematics, ORSA and economics, computer information systems, and engineering management (knowledge management). Phil applied over 40 years of diverse experience in developing, integrating, transitioning, operating, and maintaining large and small information technology and support systems looking for and finding a common explanation for knowledge management.

Phil discovered and verified the Unified Theory of Knowledge Management which explains what KM is. The theory also provides an integrated view of KM activities, competencies, and roles. The seven activities, accumulating, refining, organizing, using, representing, storing, and communicating, say exactly what KM is. “If an entity is doing one of these things, it is KM” (Sisson and Ryan 2016).

The theory also integrates KM roles and KM competencies (what you need to be able to do).