Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Explicit knowledge is almost always a second-best to tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge has context, it has depth, it has vibrancy. It lives in practice, and grows with practice. Explicit knowledge can be devoid of context, can be shallow and dead. It can be separated from practice. However it has shelf-life and it has longevity.
Imagine a task where there is a gap in practice - where we do the task once, then several months pass before we do it again. During this time, the human memory starts to leak. It starts to change. It's fallibility becomes apparent, and the three Gorilla Illusions start to work their destructive spell. The tacit knowledge loses its reliability, and quickly the explicit knowledge takes over. Its reliability offsets many of its impediments, and the checklists, the wikis, the knowledge assets become our primary source (or at the very least, back up the tacit knowledge and fill in the gaps)
Our challenge then, as knowledge managers, is to recognise where knowledge must be tacit and where it must be explicit; and where it has to be explicit, we capture it with the maximum of context, the maximum of depth, and the maximum of life.