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When your best employees leave your company, they often take a great deal of valuable tacit knowledge with them.
Tacit knowledge is experience-based knowledge—uncodified information that can’t be communicated on intranets or in procedural manuals.
It’s about knowing things like:
In fact, tacit knowledge is so valuable that many believe it to be more critical to organizational success than technical proficiency.
Here’s why: research shows that tacit knowledge has the power to increase the quality of people’s work, make decision-making go more smoothly, and improve the accuracy of task performance.
Transferring tacit knowledge
Every month in the U.S., approximately four million people leave their jobs. Many of them are baby boomers leaving en masse.
As a result, we’re seeing companies scrambling to find ways to capture as much organizational knowledge as they can.
They’re using formalized information hubs like databases and internal training seminars—which are great for communicating how incoming employees can technically do their jobs.
But when it comes to transferring tacit knowledge from one employee to another, organizations are often at a loss for how to do it.
It’s all about conversation
According to this 2012 study published in the International Journal of Business and Social Science, face-to-face social interaction is an incredibly effective way to disperse tacit knowledge. However, this face-to-face social interaction must be supported by an environment of trust and openness in order to be effective.
At Juice, we believe conversation is the operating system that drives all applications in an organization: including the ability to transfer tacit knowledge.
Why? Because conversation is unique in its ability to communicate nuances like “If you call Harry on Monday morning at 10 a.m., he’s going to be in a much better mood than if you call him Wednesday at 4 p.m.”
After all, where else are you going to access small but important tidbits like that?
To effectively pass on tacit knowledge, it really has to be done in a conversational context—that is, two (or more) people verbally communicating, sharing, being honest and direct with one another.
Companies have documents, document databases, intranet websites and groupware—but human interaction is by far the most important channel for transferring knowledge.
Organizations that build an operating system encouraging employees to communicate tacit knowledge to one another through quality conversations will be the ones that continue to benefit from this intangible asset.
Learn how Juice Inc.’s The Power of Conversation, can increase your organization’s access to tacit knowledge.
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
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