Knowledge is like a machine or engine in our heads that enables us to perform skillfully, make decisions, and solve problems. Simply stated, knowledge is the expertise to perform consistently at a very high level. Knowledge allows experts to perform tasks faster than novices because of the “knowledge maps” embedded in their minds that they’ve developed over time.
Organizations have two types of knowledge as assets – explicit and tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is all the information contained in manuals, databases, the Internet, etc. It is documented knowledge encapsulated in some form that is readily available. Explicit knowledge is deliberate and conscious. It is easily explained by an expert and often put down in procedures and taught in classrooms. Chances are your organization has that knowledge pretty well documented and actionable.
Tacit knowledge is the expertise that exists in the skills and experience of experts – what they can’t relay well without special methods to express and impart that knowledge to others. It has been estimated that 80 percent of the real value of your employee's knowledge is tacit knowledge and embraces a vital aspect of the daily work practices. Tacit knowledge is deep knowledge that is not consciously available to the expert. It's difficult for an individual to describe or write down. It requires the support of a specialist trained in knowledge capture and the software tools to structure and publish the meaning and relationships of the knowledge gathered.
Knowledge is a Business Asset
Businesses should think of knowledge as one of their assets . . . an asset that should be capitalized on. For each employee who gathers knowledge that is not made available to others in your organization and ends up leaving for whatever reason, the organization loses that individual's expert knowledge and may easily find things falling through the cracks or crumbling altogether. The departing employee didn't necessarily mean to walk away with a key asset. Chances are it is so embedded in the back of his or her mind that they either wouldn't have known it wasn't something inherently known to everyone or that they called upon this knowledge to do their jobs.
Knowledge engineers are trained to not only elicit this information from key employees, but show you how to make it actionable in items like Smart Wikis and knowledge webs/books. Contact us to learn more about how to capitalize on your knowledge assets now!