Knowledge Management

Knowledge Types

Below are the two types of knowledge.

Explicit Knowledge. Information or knowledge that can be written down in a manual. Although such information is necessary to perform well, it winds up being a relatively minor portion of all that you need know. Some would say that explicit knowledge is what everyone can find and use.

Tacit Knowledge. What employees can learn only through experience. It’s not easily communicated but could very well be the most important aspect of what we learn in organizations. Tacit knowledge is what separates experts from novices.

As an employee, it’s hard to build a high level of tacit knowledge without some level of explicit knowledge to build from. From an organization’s perspective, the tacit knowledge its employees accumulate may be the single most important strategic asset a company possesses.

Information Design Challenges

Everywhere you look, you are likely to see this same problem: information cannot be found or is out of date, incomplete, delivered too late, or is much more—or much less—than they need.

Looking at medical information, doctors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison identified five challenges in the design of information:

Information overload. Users have too much information to organize, synthesize, draw conclusions from, or act on. Availability of knowledge has shifted from knowledge scarcity to knowledge abundance.

Information underload. Users cannot find enough information in order to confidently act.

Information scatter. Needed information is in multiple locations, placing it at high risk of being overlooked or ignored.

Information conflict. Information is duplicated or different, making it challenging to trust the content.

Erroneous information. Information is misleading or outright wrong, creating high risk, especially when there is a critical impact of failure.

Information Design Strategies

Instead of trying to train around bad content, throwing technology at the problem, wasting time on redundant efforts, or just ignoring it altogether, it is far better to attack the root cause—poorly designed and managed information—directly.

If the information is bad, improve it.

If it cannot be found, make the process easier.

If it is redundant, conflicting, biased, or incomplete, fix it.

In a knowledge abundance world, learning is most effectively supported by curating critical knowledge and making it accessible in the workflow, in an on-demand format, and at the moment of need.

Formal training should no longer be used to teach the content directly, but to teach how to make the best use of resources and how to be a good knowledge consumer. This means we need to spend more time curating content and less time developing content.