Home » Reflections » Tacit versus Explicit knowledge

Tacit knowledge is the knowledge you have that can not be easily express with words. Knowing how to ride a bike or play and instrument as easy examples to tacit knowledge to connect with. Often coachee talk about ‘just knowing’ something but can’t readily explain how they know it or easily articulate it.

Tacit knowledge differs from explicit knowledge in that explicit knowledge is easily explainable.  Examples of explicit knowledge are demonstrated in conversations, discussion papers and blog posts.

A fascinating fact about tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge is that tacit knowledge significantly out numbers explicit knowledge. The iceberg is often used a metaphor to demonstrate this. Coaching conversations and exercises can help a client to tease out areas of tacit knowledge and bring them to the fore making that knowledge more valuable.

Let’s take an example. Many people in business pride themselves on their instinct or using their ‘gut feel’. So is this instinct actually your tacit knowledge in action? If you have a bad feeling about doing business with a particular person, to what extent should you listen to it? What is it about that person brings about bad vibes?

By exploring this further you may discover a range of factors. Perhaps they dress or resemble someone you had a bad experience with. Or perhaps they have some a communication style that points to bad business practices. In each of these situations your decision to do business with that person is likely to be different so its important to identify the tacit knowledge you tend to draw upon and the underlying cause.

Lifting the lid on your tacit knowledge and reducing blind spots is crucially important for business decisions and setting strategy.

 

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