Sharing implicit knowledge by writing, reading and reflecting

Harold Jarche (@hjarche), co-author of The Working Smarter Fieldbook, have written a post with the title Communities of practice enable the integration of work and learning. His thoughts on how communities of practice is the core integrator for work and learning is clear and well substantiated. I don’t disagree with anything concerning his conclusions (they’re in fact real eye-openers so I do recommend his post!) but I’d like to share my view on the topic of implicit knowledge. I’m a bit of a nit-pick in consideration to some subjects and sharing of knowledge and implicit/explicit knowledge are example of some of these!

Jarche says “Implicit knowledge can only be shared through conversations & observation” which I have to disagree with. Saying this means that you must be part of a conversation or observe something yourself to be able to share or get new implicit knowledge. It would in this example be impossible to read an essay, study or blog post like yours and “get it” after which you change something in your work or private life. From my point of view this isn’t the case. You can gain implicit knowledge by reading and reflection. It gets especially easy if the content have anecdotes and stories from real life in them. By having this they become a form of record of observation the same way that you could film an event and thereby create a recording of an observation.

In fact, Jarche later also says that “Knowledge-sharing and narration of work make implicit knowledge more visible” which gives credit to my notion that performing reflection of your own work will become narration and knowledge sharing for others. This means you’re giving them the opportunity to require implicit knowledge without direct conversation or observation.

Lastly (this really isn’t nagging – promise!) a comment on the  first bullet “Complex problems require more implicit knowledge, which cannot be codified.” This, for me, means that implicit knowledge is for informal learning and explicit knowledge what you put in your formal learning classes. What’s explicit CAN be codified and quite easily transformed into learning programs.

Isn’t it unfortunate that it is the implicit knowledge that you need the most to do your job? 😉

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