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What Is Tacit Knowledge? 4 Reasons Why It Is Important

What is tacit knowledge

What is Tacit Knowledge?

The concept of tacit knowledge was introduced by Michael Polanyi in 1958 with an assertion that “We can know more than we can tell”. Tacit knowledge can be defined as skills, ideas, and know that people hold in their minds.

Tacit knowledge is different from explicit knowledge. While explicit knowledge can be easily shared, stored or articulated, tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is difficult to gain access to, as it is often not codified or written down.

A few examples of tacit knowledge are the best-practices of a star salesman, intuition a doctor has in solving critical cases, ideas for a new disruptive innovation, inter alia.

4 Reasons Why Tacit Knowledge Is Important For Individuals

1. The Tacit Power

Research shows that tacit knowledge has some unique powers. For example:-

  • Tacit knowledge has the power to increase the quality of people’s work.
  • It eases decision making.
  • It improves the accuracy of performance.

It is such tacit knowledge that stands as a fine line differentiating a thriving individual and others who’re merely trying.

2. Absorb Tacit Knowledge

Now that the true potential of tacit knowledge is evident, there arises a question – “How?” How would one gain Tacit Knowledge? The International Journal of Business and Social Science conducted a study on this and claims that the most effective way of dispersing knowledge among individuals is face-to-face social interaction, period. This might sound challenging because of the tremendous emergence of the virtual world. Social networking platforms, Video calls, easy voice calling across the world, and more are eventually making direct meets unconsidered.
Nevertheless, motivated professionals go the extra mile to succeed! Regardless of how an individual gains knowledge – attending industry events and conferences, building their own professional network, or learning through one’s own experience, he who is inquisitive and hunts for tacit knowledge is highly prone to succeed.

3. Fighting Challenges

Well, challenges are ubiquitous, and the pursuit of tacit knowledge is no exception. Passing on the tacit knowledge via conversations is a brilliant way to tackle hindrances and difficulties in knowledge sharing. In other words, sharing tacit knowledge with ease involves communication between (or among) two or more people, and share knowledge with one other. Abstract detailing and contorted concepts can easily be explained this way.

4. Paper works don’t suffice

Paper works are not to be blamed! Yes, they aid in delivering information and give comprehensive hint on the subject, but they are not on par with tacit knowledge, truly! The most effective of all ways of transferring or sharing knowledge is through tacit knowledge using open communication and conversation.

Imagine a condition where a skillful, highly talented employee leaving an organization with all the experiences and invaluable, treasured wisdom he has gained over years! The knowledge, if not shared with tacit knowledge, never passes on, and gets obliterated within himself!

  • This is what makes tacit knowledge imperative and it is for the same reason that the professional world respects and values internships, conferences and other soft skill training than the knowledge gained from books or the web.

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