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Tacit and Explicit Knowledge made simple in 3 steps

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

The thing about learning to drive a car is, you can read all the study material in the world but when you actually sit behind the wheel, a manual only takes you so far. Without hands-on training and experience, you’re in for a pretty bumpy ride. Whether driving the car or driving your business, knowing the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge is what’s going to help you from going down.

It is very easy to get intimidated by the vast world of knowledge management. However, like any subject, it is important to have your basic concepts clear. So here is knowledge management made simple, step by step.

Step 1: Knowing the basics of Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

  1. Explicit Knowledge is knowledge that can be documented, taught, recorded, stored and accessed. It can be easily transmitted to others within the workplace. So basically all the formal learning that we have done all our life; school, college, higher education etc. At your organisation, tacit knowledge sits within the emails, the documents, case files, reports, etc. 

  1. Tacit Knowledge is a little difficult to store and transfer. It is the knowledge that one gains from experience. E.g., while learning to bake a bread, you can always follow the recipe but a baker with years of experience will end up making a better loaf than you, while following the same recipe. Explicit knowledge sits with your most valuable, and often least looked upon resource; your employees. It sits with their years of experience, in their hours of practise and their devotion to niche subjects. 

Step 2: Understanding what works when

So taking the example of learning to drive a car, knowing where all the controls are, how to operate them is explicit knowledge. But knowing how to park well and the judgement that comes with time and experience that helps you avoid an accident is tacit knowledge. 

In a work setup, to drive this car of knowledge management for your organisation, all you need to do is, answer two questions;

  1. What is the right combination of tacit and explicit knowledge for my organisation? 

  2. How to apply this combination successfully?

Step 3: Application of Tacit and Explicit Knowledge 

So there are two main methods on how to apply tacit and explicit knowledge.  

All these different learning methods can be applied to workplaces and have shown varied degrees of returns, not just in terms of revenues and profits, but also in employee engagement and wellbeing. We believe maintaining a balance between the two is extremely important. Learning on the job is a very personal experience and it doesn’t work at the same pace or in the same style for everyone. Offering personalised learning experiences to your employees is a great way to build both tacit and explicit knowledge, while ensuring employees enjoy the process and are able to reap maximum benefits in the long run. 

Investing in a gamified peer learning platform that builds learning bridges between colleagues and personalises the employee learning experience at scale is one of the new ways to channel the knowledge base of your organisation. If you’re interested in learning more about how peer learning can help you manage your organisation’s wisdom, chat with our experts at BHyve today. 

Like learning to drive a car, it’s only practise that makes perfect! So keep practising, keep learning! 


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