The Tacit Knowledge Emergency. Why Organizational Knowledge Disapears without KRM

The Tacit Knowledge Emergency. Why Organizational Knowledge Disapears without KRM

Sep 10, 2023

KRM 101

In the evolving world of knowledge management, there's one type of knowledge that often flies under the radar and can stifle a project if not available for use—tacit knowledge.  

But what is tacit knowledge? Why, if not captured, does tacit knowledge pose a vulnerability for companies with industrial engineering and science teams, and all those who undertake research and development? 

Let's explore tacit knowledge, its pivotal role in science and engineering projects, and how CoBaseKRM can help you capture explicit knowledge before it dissolves into tacit knowledge and, from there, too often, lost. 

What is Tacit Knowledge?

Tacit knowledge is a term that refers to the knowledge that individuals possess but find challenging to articulate or document.

Unlike explicit knowledge, which can be codified and stored in documents or databases, tacit knowledge resides within the minds of individuals. It's the kind of knowledge that's developed through experience, intuition, and personal insights.

Key characteristics of tacit knowledge include:

Implicit Nature: Tacit knowledge is often implicit and unspoken. It's what people carry with them but might not be able to express in words.

Experience-Based: It evolves through personal experiences, practice, and exposure to real-world situations. Think of it as the expertise gained from years of hands-on work.

Context-Dependence: Tacit knowledge is closely tied to specific contexts and challenges an individual has faced in their professional journey.

Difficult to Transfer: Transferring tacit knowledge from one person to another can be challenging. It often requires a deep level of interaction, observation, and hands-on experience.

Resident in People: If the tacit-knowledge holders cannot be identified or are not around when needed or altogether leave, that knowledge is lost.

The Role of Tacit Knowledge in Knowledge Management

The stark reality is that if knowledge is not immediately captured, it’s often lost, dissolving into tacit knowledge.  
The difficulty capturing knowledge is that staff work across many applications and tools, making their work, communication, and knowledge fragmented from its inception.   

Current workflows fragment knowledge

Traditionally, managing research data involved manual organization, relying on interconnected Excel spreadsheets, personal storage drives, and shared network drives.

Add to this equation that knowledge from technical work is often summarized and shared via email, direct message, and team meetings.

Knowledge from projects can quickly become disjointed, requiring participants to keep a mental roadmap of what happened, when, by whom, and if there were any other critical details obtained.

Along the way, knowledge gets stashed away, which thereafter, may or may not be known or shared with others.

Capturing Knowledge Requires a New Approach

Knowledge is the breeding ground for innovation. So, how best to capture it?  

Answer: At the source. Enter CoBaseKRM. 

CoBaseKRM: Capturing Knowledge in Explicit Form at the Source

CoBaseKRM is an innovative platform built for collecting the knowledge gained every day by scientists, engineers and business analysts.  

Built on the simple premise that knowledge should be stored, transferred and managed like an asset, CoBaseKRM helps companies store staff knowledge in explicit form from every stage of a project or initiative so that that staff can find previous work, understand that work, and use it to solve new problems and innovate faster. 

Knowledge Capture

CoBaseKRM offers intuitive interfaces and tools for employees to record the work they do in one central location. 

This includes the Knowledge Network Map, which allows staff to visualize discrete activities, initiation, experiments, or steps of a project and document the data, analyses, and knowledge collected at each step. 

Collaboration and Sharing

The software facilitates collaboration among team members, even when they work asynchronously or remotely. It allows employees to share their tacit knowledge through discussions, forums, and knowledge sharing sessions. That communication is tracked and connected to the work products: data, analyses and results, providing context that is essential to understanding any prior analytical initiative. 

Search and Retrieval

CoBaseKRM employs advanced search capabilities to make explicit and tacit knowledge easily discoverable. Users can search for relevant insights, solutions, or expertise within the organization's knowledge repository and have instant access to all aspects of that prior work. 

This includes finding explicitly documented past projects and the discoveries preserved therein, along with the data sets, notes, analytical techniques, and other critical information which led to an insight or discovery 

Finding relevant past work and exhaustive project documentation helps teams solve current problems faster, saving time, costs, and frustration. Instead of starting from zero, they get a head start with what was learned from prior work.  

Preserving Organizational Wisdom

CoBaseKRM safeguards the collective wisdom of the organization by ensuring that knowledge does not become tacit. This means that should staff become unavailable, their knowledge remains explicit, accessible, and easy to use in moment’s notice. 

It becomes a valuable organizational asset that continues to benefit the company. 

Unlocking power in tacit knowledge, revisited

With competition to produce faster, and make quicker, more reliable innovations, the significance of managing knowledge cannot be overstated. It stands as an asset waiting to be tapped. 

With intuitive, integrated, knowledge capture tools, employees gain the power to document their insights, experiences, and expertise gained through years of practice, whether they work synchronously or asynchronously.  

But that’s just the beginning. In future posts we’ll demonstrate how CoBaseKRM operates as a platform that:  

  • Tracks individual observations, the atomic unit of knowledge, including version control  

  • Manages process recipes, formulations, and compounds, making it easy to search and understand past experiments and their results 

  • Offers a virtual lab where you can use previous data, whether it's a lot or just a little, to run machine learning algorithms for predicting process or formulation behavior quickly and inexpensively before confirming it through physical tests. 

By embracing effective knowledge management companies position themselves to gain a competitive edge and thrive in today's dynamic business environment. 

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