Sharekh Founder at CleverX, making knowledge and insights accessible for everyone.

Is Knowledge Your Organization’s Biggest Competitive Advantage?

2 min read


[vc_row][vc_column column_width_use_pixel=”yes” gutter_size=”3″ overlay_alpha=”50″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ shift_y_down=”0″ z_index=”0″ medium_width=”0″ mobile_width=”0″ column_width_pixel=”850″][vc_column_text] A Deloitte’s Work Trend Report had it that ‘learning’ was the number one organizational issue for HR Leaders and C-Suite professionals. Also, 85% of the respondents believe that organizational and individual learning is key to success.

Every day we listen and talk about sending humans to Mars and be an inter-planetary civilization in the future. But we struggle as individuals, teams, and companies to dynamically learn, unlearn, and acquire relevant knowledge.

Many argue that words like knowledge and information should not be used interchangeably without understanding what they mean, however capitalizing and applying knowledge and information will always remain as one of the most important aspects in how businesses can effectively make informed decisions faster.

In-order to define what is knowledge means for professionals and businesses, Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak have done a succinct job.

Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the minds of knowers.

In organizations, it often presents in the DNA of documents, databases, and repositories. More subtly, it is also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and most importantly in people’s minds.

Today, Knowledge is of 3 broad types. And this knowledge is curated and consumed across companies, departments, and systems.

  1. Explicit Knowledge: Knowledge that is articulated, written, and shared across the business. (Examples: Emails, Chats / Conversations, Training, etc.)
  2. Implicit Knowledge: When explicit knowledge is applied it becomes implicit. They are skills and expertise that can be transferred from one task to another. Examples: Processes, documents, training manuals, etc.
  3. Tacit Knowledge: The knowledge from personal experiences. Difficult to express and measure, but is of high relevance. Examples: Intuition, skills, and expertise acquired over years of experience by doing an application.

The big question for HR leaders & C-Suite is why we still struggle to create access to relevant tacit knowledge for our teams and as individuals?

Every year companies heavily invest $ millions in knowledge management systems on explicit and implicit knowledge to create, consume, and distribute it around the organization.

However, most of the HR & C-Suite leaders would agree that they fail to provide access and transfer tacit knowledge from real-world experts. The ones who’ve spent years acquiring specific skills and expertise based on application and hands-on learning.

As the great stoic philosopher, Epictetus Said

“If you wish to be a writer, write”

If you delve deeper into company insights, you’ll find them 5X or10X better in the same industries. They are the ones who can capitalize on tacit knowledge, after all.

These companies have frequently out-smarted companies in their industry by providing employees access to external or internal people with tacit knowledge.

Domain experts who have been grinding over years have acquired specific knowledge. These valuable insights lead to a higher innovations index, better ideas, and a deeper understanding of problems. Most importantly they lead to solutions that can help make faster and better decisions.

Here’s an example of SpaceX and Elon as a founder, who captured tacit knowledge to create one of the most talked and admired companies SpaceX in the world. Will humans be an interplanetary civilization, time will tell, and it’s a discussion for another time.

Here’s an interesting story that many don’t know about SpaceX on how access to Tacit Knowledge can create extraordinary success

Before getting into the Space industry, Elon Musk cold-called many space industry experts, and after a while got connected to Jim Cantrell, an aerospace consultant who worked for NASA’s jet propulsion lab and on a joint Mars balloon mission for the French Space Agency and the Soviet Union.

Jim regularly pointed Elon to the relevant material and content to learn more about the industry and technicalities of making his vision a reality. Jim later got hired as an early employee at SpaceX. Read more about it here.

Moral of the story.

Our teams and organizations need access to tacit and implicit knowledge from experts outside and within the organization. And what can we do as HR Leaders & C-Suite to bridge this learning gap? 

Leaders who are proactive see over 3X faster and better decisions taken by teams who acquire tacit knowledge. And this propels the need for the company’s competitive moats and advantages over their industry peers.  

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ― Maya Angelou


Sharekh Founder at CleverX, making knowledge and insights accessible for everyone.

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