Data to Wisdom

The process from Data to wisdom according to Russell Ackoff, a systems theorist and professor of organizational change, the content of the human mind can be classified into five categories:


Wisdom is evaluated understanding, including philosophical and ethical probing. It depends on the previous four levels and is usually future orientated and it embodies an appreciation that much will remain unknown and unknowable.


Insight and Understanding, a synthesis of new knowledge and information, an appreciation of why things are the way they are and what would provide the highest leverage for intervention and whole system enhancement.


Knowledge requires the consideration of date and information in context to discover how things are working, information is assembled as narrative that enables meaning for those working in and on a system. Prediction based on experimentation if well designed leads to knowledge.


Information is data that has been processed to provide answers to who, what, where, when how and why questions. Information is data that has been given meaning by the making of relational connections, this meaning can be useful if correctly applied.


Data are mere symbols having no significance beyond their existence, sometimes they are useful. It has no meaning by itself, for instance a spreadsheet which has no explanation which may have duplicated or wrong data within it.