Locate and Engage Tacit Knowledge

Locate and Engage Tacit Knowledge

Locate and Engage Tacit Knowledge

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Locate and engage Tacit Knowledge

What is Tacit Knowledge

It is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. For example, that London is in the United Kingdom is a piece of explicit knowledge that can be written down, transmitted, and understood by a recipient. However, the ability to speak a language, knead dough, play a musical instrument or design and use complex equipment requires all sorts of knowledge that is not always known explicitly, even by expert practitioners, and which is difficult or impossible to explicitly transfer to other users. While tacit knowledge appears to be simple, it has far-reaching consequences and is not widely understood. This is the definition from Wikipedia.

How can I apply this

While Confluence cannot be used to collect and harvest Tacit knowledge due to the very definition of Tacit knowledge, Confluence does allow team members to easily identify (through previous blog posts and article searching) and connect with Subject Matter Experts to engage their Tacit knowledge.

How do I know if we are using this strategy

"I need further input before making a decision, who is an expert with tacit knowledge I can engage?", the team member can then search Confluence for experts and set up a meeting with experts.

More on Tacit Knowledge

David Snowden, a Welsh academic, consultant and researcher is an expert in the field of knowledge management. In the State of the Net 2012 video below he talks about Tacit Knowledge. He also has a lot of other outstanding talks about knowledge management.

It is a very information rich presentation with a lot of trends and though provoking ideas that can be applied to enterprises. These include harvesting knowledge that cannot be written down, over organising knowledge and boundaries to work within, not offering extrinsic rewards, applying fail-fast strategies, forming crews and focusing on telling stories with knowledge. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you do too!


If we don't understand the why of things, we can never scale the how.

We know more than we say, and we can say more than we can write down. This means if we are designing systems that are communicated via text we are working with a constricting medium.

We are pattern based rather than rational creatures. We must be careful of organisation models that are overly logical, and overly orderly as it destroys innovation.

Our brains are Autonomic (immediate, intuitive, instinctive) and Novelty receptive.

For 98% of our genetic history we have been hunter gathers, not operating for personal benefit, rather social cohesion and we are seeing these trends in social media.

Consciousness is an extended function of the brain, the body and the environment.

Human knowledge needs mediation, and we are moving towards a distributed app environment.

Technology needs to work for humans, not the other way around.

Extrinsic rewards destroy intrinsic motivations.

Most people follow events based on Gaussion distribution, rather than Pareto, which tends to be more realistic. This means we need to change the strategy of our systems from Robustness (not breaking) to Resilience (early-detection) and fast-recovery. Making fast-exploitation of an opportunity presented the new paradigm. Applying this strategy means architecting solutions on the assumption of failure rather than assumptions of success.

Personally I see this trending in the software space with Fail-fast approaches beginning to gain traction. Even though software products are not designed to fail or contain bugs, the inevitably do, and by acknowledging this and failing fast (and often) we increase the system feedback cycles of the system, essentially seeing issues and respond to them repeatedly until the system stabilises.

There are 3 types of systems: chaotic, ordered and complex adaptive systems.

There is a difference between teams and crews (military). In a team each member must learn the strengths and skills of others and build trust before they become productive. In a crew each member is trained for a set of skills or role, and the crew can immediately produce results. Building crews is becoming a strategy in enterprise teams.

Exaptation vs Adaptation, managing for exaptation is what Apple is very good at. They can find something that has evolved that can be used for outcomes other than what it was intended, and then apply it.

We need to be proactive.

We need to create human sensory networks, networks of humans that can adapt quickly to stimulus.

We are now being referred to as homonapian, story telling beings.

How many of the 7 knowledge management concepts do you use? Can you make use of more features or functionality that would allow you to embrace even more of these strategies?

ServiceRocket helps companies and customers create value for software. We believe the first step to getting more value out of software is proper training, building customer education for today's leading technologies and helping over 100,000 students do more with their software. Our SaaS customer training software, Learndot, is the only LMS built for software training. ServiceRocket is based in Palo Alto, CA, and hiring in four global offices.

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This post is part of 7 Knowledge Management Concepts and How They Apply

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