Proposal for new COST action on meta-sensing in knowledge management

August 8, 2002

Brussels, 7 August 2002

Full text of Document 257/02

Note. Proposal for a new COST Action entitled "Developing Meta-Sensing Capabilities for Technological Opportunities and Stakes in a Knowledge Management Perspective." 2 August 2002

New COST Action Proposal on: "Developing meta-sensing capabilities for technological opportunities and stakes in a knowledge management perspective" (ILEMT-EPFL, Lausanne, May th, 2002)


In the uncertain, complex and fast-changing world of today, the management of technology can play a constructive role, with probably more solutions than problems and more benefactors than actors. Scientific research, technology transfer, intellectual capital management, technology-related entrepreneurship, R&D management, innovation dynamics and technology policies are the many sides of this crucial area of activity. Within this wide perspective, a domain is emerging, in between assessing the recent past and the long-term future, eventually balancing opportunities and risk. We call it meta-sensing.

Meta-sensing deals with the anticipation of near futures, as to release organisations' effective potential for meaningful decision and action. It can be seen as the technology-related part of knowledge acquisition for which we have only a blurred idea of what and where to look for. "Meta" hints as a matter of fact at the need of having to design, in the course of the research or analysis process itself, efficient representations, models and methods. Meta-sensing is a reflective activity on the uncertainties we have or may have to cope with.

One key problem is that we should not focus exclusively on existing trends likely to last, but on the contrary on constantly possible shifts, unexpected cross-influences and discontinuities. These bifurcations constitute the substance of both breakthrough innovation and risks. Transforming these options in a knowledge management problem and relating them to possible or necessary organisational changes, should also be envisaged as a major governance challenge.

Building upon many existing knowledge fields, approaches, methods and tools to formulate, analyse and document scenarios towards possible near futures in the technological arena, meta-sensing should be considered as an emerging discipline, the science of detecting complex patterns and changes in their early stages and the art of making effective decision and environment-making accordingly.

The proposed COST Action aims at re-enforcing, by networking a diversity of competences, this analytical and managerial capability...

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