explanation: refinery

The difference between the concepts data, information, knowledge and wisdom is best explained with the following metaphorical story Tobin 1998: 26-27:

Imagine a modern chemical refinery with hundreds of connected pipes. These pipes could be conceived of as data. Sets of pipes form systems such as inlet and outlet pipe systems. When data is organized, it is information -- systems of pipes are thus refinery information. One day there is a problem with the flow of chemicals and the plant is down. Nobody seems to know how to fix this. The plant manager remembers Joe who recently retired and calls on him.

Joe visits the plant, does the pipe rounds and eventually takes out his hammer and gives a certain pipe a massive bang. The plant kicks back into action. So Joe invoices the company $10'000. The manager thinks this is exuberant and requests a detailed invoice. Joe's reply invoice looks like this:

Hitting pipe with hammer: $1.00
Knowing where to hit which pipe: $9'999.00
Total: $10'000.00

In this refinery there might have been other individuals with knowledge, but not necessarily appropriate knowledge for this task. No one had the wisdom to apply the relevant knowledge for the specific task. If the refinery had some KM system in place, perhaps Joe could have shared his knowledge and wisdom with other individuals.