Tacit knowledge is the significant information that resides in an individual’s mind. Tacit knowledge is difficult to track and capture as it is not written down. It is simply the knowledge, someone has gathered from experience. It is unseen and thus often untapped. But it is a treasure pyramid of knowledge.
Much of the learning can happen by way of learning from the experts and experienced professionals. Organizations that can identify and connect experts, who can share their tacit knowledge benefit by providing higher quality solutions, grow faster. However, such tacit knowledge sharing is typically unstructured and does not provide ways to measure the expanse of the knowledge. Capturing the tacit knowledge of individuals is perhaps one of the biggest challenges in knowledge management.
So, how to tap the tacit knowledge?
Carrying informal discussions into a collaborative environment is an ideal way to begin. It replaces off-the-cuff interactions like shouting over the cubicle and blasting email threads with a single, well-structured place where people can collaborate, that may extend to customers and partners.
In a corporate scenario, where employees can come together, collaborate, share and learn from each other on job-related skills or product and service functions, collaboration with the experience and expert people who have been in the job function for several years is very important. Also, while a standard training program or on the job training does provide for the initial training that is required to perform a job function, the expertise of the experienced professionals in that function can enable one to learn the nuances associated with a job function. So, expertise management becomes a central ideology of tacit knowledge.
Organization should provide such a platform which should enable people to share information about a current issue, problem, or any relevant query with knowledge veterans. Organizations, by automatically capturing these interactions, can expand the scope of reusable knowledge to include various silos data, by recording, documenting, and storing for future reference.
In many situations, even, within a professional community or an organization, we see lack of motivation for the experts to spend time in sharing their knowledge with the inexperienced. So, it is also important to provide recognition and encouragement to the expert contributions by tracking and measuring such contributions, thereby motivating them to share their expertise.
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