Unpacking Tacit Knowledge

Knowledge management and elicitation are key components to understanding and improving expertise. Despite being a foundational aspect of expertise, tacit knowledge, because it can be difficult to articulate and define, is often missed or blatantly dismissed.

At ShadowBox, we aren’t strangers to abstract concepts, difficult to understand jargon, and knowledge that is often challenging to articulate. Despite our work hinging on discovering unique insights, which typically involve complicated concepts, language, and knowledge, we help distill all of that down into manageable and digestible nuggets of insight that can accelerate the expertise within an organization’s workforce. Gary Klein’s latest Psychology Today blogUnpacking Tacit Knowledge addresses a broad and vaguely defined type of knowledge – tacit knowledge – a key aspect of expertise that is unfortunately not always given the credit it deserves.

The iceberg image below demonstrates the facets of knowledge – above the surface you have explicit knowledge (e.g., declarative knowledge, routines and procedures), and below the surface is where tacit knowledge (e.g., pattern recognition, judging typicality, mindsets, etc.) lies. Both are equally important, but we would argue that below the surface is where the really interesting insights reside. Investigating tacit knowledge can help identify the way experts recognize patterns, judge typical situations, spot anomalies, and the perceptual knowledge they have acquired over the years. This is where opportunities to discover truly unique insights are – insights that others might miss, or worse, blatantly dismiss.

Check out his latest Psychology Today blog to learn more about why tacit knowledge is a difficult concept to understand, the varying types of tacit knowledge, a tacit knowledge taxonomy, and Gary’s proposed definition. 

Interested in exploring the tacit knowledge within your organization and learning how to scale existing expertise within your workforce? We would love to hear from you!