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Tacit Knowledge: What You Don’t Know Will Cost You

by | Aug 10, 2019

How to capture and leverage your organization’s tacit knowledge.

To understand how to best manage, store, and effectively share organizational knowledge, you’ve got to have a firm understanding of the different types of knowledge. Thankfully, you won’t have to go too far to get up to speed.— these different kinds of knowledge are already being recorded and shared internally between your team members, so your company’s knowledge management strategy is likely closer than you think.

First, what is tacit knowledge?

Simply put, the term tacit knowledge represents knowledge or acquired skills that can’t be easily explained to another person. It can be the most valuable type of knowledge, as opposed to explicit knowledge that can be transferred more directly, or implicit knowledge (the application of tacit knowledge). 

These are the types of skills which, even despite the most detailed instructions, aren’t readily picked up by other individuals. Tacit knowledge makes up much more of our personal knowledge base than we even realize. More often that not, it’s “rooted in context, experience, practice and values.”

The process of storing and applying information varies greatly from company to company, but every workplace has a wealth of knowledge which accumulates over time. It becomes difficult to track down the mundane and explicit information, and even harder to learn a new skill when needed. With the utilization  of knowledge creating a unique competitive advantage, AI solutions have been developed to help organizations manage and regurgitate explicit information.

How can you leverage tacit knowledge?

But to take advantage of your company’s tacit knowledge creation, people need to instead be focused on sharing the knowledge they already have. And, the dynamics that led them to acquire this information in the first place. When this kind of information is efficiently shared, more employees can leverage tacit knowledge that isn’t easily taught.

Reducing the time spent searching for information while also capturing and sharing tacit knowledge makes for an efficient workplace. Which in turn, becomes smarter and more knowledgeable on important subjects. If you’re under the impression that there’s no easy way to utilize tacit knowledge, then you may not be aware of knowledge sharing platforms.

Knowledge Sharing

Enter: knowledge sharing platforms.

When you utilize a knowledge-sharing platform, you open up a method of crowdsourcing within your organization, allowing for a more streamlined approach to tracking down knowledge. At its core, the chatbot acts as an expert team member who is able to track down, store, and surface knowledge in a matter of seconds. 

Valuable time occupied searching for critical tacit information is now spent more productively, saving your company money and work hours.

What’s more, when an employee leaves a company, they take with them a wealth of tacit knowledge that may not have been adequately recorded. It takes an immense amount of time for a person to pick up or learn the processes for tasks that are left incomplete when someone leaves an organization. 

The subsequent gap in knowledge is often not even recognized until after the employee has left the company. Modern enterprise solutions like knowledge sharing platforms eliminate this gap by making it easier for a new employee to learn the tacit knowledge that the old employee held.

When it comes to a solution for the knowledge gap, a knowledge sharing platform is able to address and store these answers. Interfaces like chatbots have become so popular because they can immediately mine for and redirect the stored information and data to anyone who may need it, almost instantly. 

Using a knowledge sharing platform:

 “Allows projects to take advantage of previous experience, to minimize the risk of repeating mistakes, and to leverage existing materials to allow deliverables to be produced more efficiently, all at a relatively low cost to the project.” 

The best way to pass on tacit knowledge to a team member is to connect them with experts who can transfer their hands-on knowledge to others. This natural language chat interface becomes an expert finder of sorts. Meaning, it can direct you to someone who has tacit knowledge on a subject you are looking to find out more about.

Tacit Knowledge

Finding the right knowledge sharing platform.

The way that tacit knowledge is applied is specific in nature, in that it depends on the unique needs of your company. While it may be applied one way at one company, another company will use it differently. Building or buying a knowledge sharing platform that stores and manages organizational knowledge while also making it accessible is extremely conducive to growth. 

For example, shared tacit knowledge between marketing and sales teams can “enhance marketing success (i.e., marketing innovation, relative efficiency, and relative effectiveness).” Thus, emphasizing the importance of implementing a knowledge sharing platform. A knowledge sharing platform can eliminate the tedious early stages of identifying where to begin and the basics of how the process works.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t know what knowledge sharing solutions are available to them or even why they might need it. It can be difficult to identify your company’s knowledge management and sharing issues until you’ve actually implemented a solution. It’s crucial to have data in-hand showing just how much time was being wasted before, and just how much more productive your company has become.

Being able to source, capture, store, and share tacit knowledge, while translating the abstract methods in which it was learned, leads to a paradigm shift in any company.