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What is Tacit Knowledge?

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Knowledge is divided into two categories—explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is codifiable and is easily transferred in written instructions, manuals, job aids, etc. Tacit knowledge is not codifiable, meaning it cannot be written down and left as instructions for successors in written instructions. Tacit means understood without being openly expressed. Often, individuals do not realize they possess tacit knowledge because it is stored in their subconsciousness mind and is drawn out when a situation arises.

Tacit knowledge is transferred through informal discussions, working in close proximity, cubicle drive-bys, impromptu discussions, observation, water cooler chats, mentoring, collaborative problem solving events (Kaizen)  and coaching. Pre-pandemic organizations were suffering in the areas of productivity, competitive advantage, and future state sustainability due to the loss of tacit knowledge. Post-pandemic organizations are in a much worse state than thought. In research from 2019, technology emerged at the epicenter to hindering the transfer of tacit knowledge. Now, organizations are completely dependent upon technology and unaware of the latent risk that will deepen the loss of their proprietary asset …tacit knowledge!

Is your organization aware that it is losing tacit knowledge? 

  1. Still grappling with high turnover?

  2. Do you find yourself always training new people for the same positions?

  3. Organizational effectiveness declining?

  4. Is your organization divided by generations, cliques, or other special interest to where there is not a free flow of information?

  5. Are more seasoned employees holding on to their tacit knowledge and not sharing? Or retiring?

  6. Are new people floundering trying to figure things out?

  7. Are you trusting that your new people will learn every thing through explicit knowledge, job aids, written instructions?

What about the year 2025?  

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Tacit Intelligence

The Year 2025

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