Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Live blogging KM: Two types of knowledge

There are two types of knowledge within organization (and, no, this isn't one of those "there are two types of people in the world" set-ups): explicit and tacit.

According to the good folks here at APQC, explicit knowledge is all the stuff that's written down. You know: standard operating proceedures, job aids, instructions, written policies, handbooks. The claim is that the explicit knowledge is only about 20% of the knowledge within an organization.

The other 80% is tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is all the stuff that is in people's heads. It only comes to the surface when needed, or "in response to a situation or action."

While explicit knowledge is easy to replicate, tacit knowledge is hard to transfer from person to person, and it gives the organization which has that tacit knowledge locked up in a person's brain a competitive advantage.

Explicit knowledge contributes to efficiency, while tacit knowledge leads to competency. Tacit knowledge is hard to articulate and even harder to steal.

To be successful, organizations must somehow capture that tacit knowledge. They must suck it out of the brains it's in and transplant it to the brains of other workers.

That is the key to knowledge management.

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