The 1970s brought us many advancements in business innovation.
On the startup side, two of the biggest tech giants, Apple and Microsoft, were born. Business management was also taking new leaps and bounds, led by business thought leaders like Peter Drucker. His concept of “knowledge management” was a new way businesses could take advantage of company information to improve performance.
In knowledge management, explicit knowledge is one of the primary initiatives to improve operations. You may be wondering, what is explicit knowledge?
Simply put, it’s one of three primary types of knowledge.
Explicit knowledge can be easily shared, spoken, and written down. The second type, implicit knowledge, is the application of explicit knowledge. The third type, tacit knowledge, is knowledge gained from personal experience and is more challenging to express.
In this article, we’ll break down what explicit knowledge is, its benefits, and how you can use it. We’ll even show you a few examples of what it looks like in action. Let’s begin.
Defining Explicit Knowledge
Explicit knowledge is the most easily shared type of knowledge.
When people or businesses process, organize, and interpret data, the result is explicit knowledge. It can be easily recorded and communicated.
When it comes to knowledge sharing and management, explicit knowledge is a crucial piece of the pie.
Think about your knowledge management tool. You’ll likely find many documents, files, data sheets, PDFs, and more when you open it up. These are all examples of explicit knowledge.
The Benefits of Explicit Knowledge
Explicit knowledge is a vital part of a business ecosystem. It can help an organization’s team members transfer one piece of information to another coworker or their customers. Sharing explicit knowledge within an organization lets company employees learn new information quickly to perform better.
Here are a few benefits of explicit knowledge in the workplace.
Declarative and Easily Verbalized
Explicit knowledge is a basic form of knowledge. This enables any employee, from trainee to C-suite executive, to share information with their team.
Easy to Transfer and Learn From Others
Explicit knowledge isn’t just easy to verbalize. It’s also easy to take in. It can be used as a medium of knowledge transfer to share information from one individual to another.
Easier to Remember Than Implicit Knowledge
While implicit knowledge is much more subjective, explicit knowledge is much more objective, making it easier to remember. This allows employees to take in new information more quickly.
Can Explain Complex Concepts
If a concept is complicated, it can still be communicated. By using explicit knowledge, difficult concepts can be shared with ease.
Allows for Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
You don’t know what you don’t know. When information is shared explicitly, it allows for problem-solving and critical thinking advancements.
Supports Creativity and Innovation
Companies that grew by 20% or more in the previous year pursued innovation to improve performance. People can get their creative juices flowing when they come together to share explicit knowledge. Oftentimes, sharing a simple piece of information explicitly with someone else is all it takes to breed innovation.
Helps Streamline Operations
When information is locked away, it’s hard to improve an organization. However, when information is available through explicit knowledge, employees can optimize their tasks and improve operations.
Encourages Quick Decision-Making
Slow decision-making can be costly for companies. Often, the key to unlocking quick decision-making is simply having access to more explicit knowledge.
How to Capture Explicit Knowledge and Use It to Your Advantage
Explicit knowledge is essential if any organization wants to thrive. However, if not used effectively, it’s useless. Here are a few ways to capture explicit knowledge and use it to your organization’s advantage.
Simplify Your Onboarding Process
Onboarding is one of the most challenging tasks managers have to deal with. New employees have to go from having zero knowledge about their role to 100% in a short amount of time. Managers can use explicit knowledge through their knowledge base by creating simple onboarding documents and processes.
Create Guidelines for Content Creation
Without proper guidelines, your content creation will be all over the place. Not only will this lead to inconsistency in branding and messaging, but it often means a higher margin of error. Instead, you should use explicit knowledge to establish content creation guidelines to keep your content consistent, reduce errors, and streamline project management.
Segment and Organize Your Knowledge
Explicit knowledge is supposed to be easy to understand. But that doesn’t mean every company makes organizing and accessing explicit knowledge easy.
You should use a knowledge base to help segment and organize your company’s operations. The right tool can help you easily segment and split up information based on categories so your team can quickly find the information they need.
Carry Out a Knowledge Audit
Another way you can capture explicit knowledge and benefit your organization is with a knowledge audit. If you don’t know what to fix, you can’t head in the right direction. Performing an audit of all your knowledge assets is a great way to assess where you’re at with your file organization so you can revamp it and streamline access to information.
Encourage Organization-Wide Participation
Explicit knowledge can be highly effective in improving company performance. But, if only a fraction of your team contributes to the available knowledge, you’re missing out. You should encourage your workforce to contribute information to your company’s collective knowledge.
Regularly Review Documentation to Ensure It’s Current
One final way to capture explicit knowledge to get the most for your team is to review your documents consistently. Bloomfire lets you set automated reminders to review or unpublish content if you know it will be out of date at a certain point, making it easier to ensure content in the platform stays current.
Examples of Explicit Knowledge
We’ve already covered explicit knowledge and how your organization can capture and benefit from it. But what exactly does it look like within your organization practically?
Here are a few hands-on examples of explicit knowledge at work.
Approved Answers to FAQs
Nearly 69% of consumers try to resolve issues independently, but less than one-third of organizations offer self-service options like an FAQ page or knowledge base. Companies can use explicit knowledge to audit customer questions to create a list of approved answers within an FAQ page. That way, your customers can quickly find what they need, and your support team can have more time to serve other customers.
Every company needs documentation of its company policies to keep employees on the same page. A code of conduct can set expectations for workplace behavior and act as a north star for onboarding employees to ensure they conduct themselves professionally from day one.
Market Research Reports
Market research is what drives a company’s ability to serve its customers by making data-backed decisions. You can use explicit knowledge to create market research reports. These documents can include information about customer behavior, competition, and marketing strategies to improve marketing initiatives and create effective campaigns.
Standard Operating Procedures
Writing standard operating procedures (SOPs) is one of the most critical examples of explicit knowledge within a company. Establishing detailed SOPs is an effective way to implement best practices, so your team delivers consistent and high-quality results on the job.
Nearly 25% of new hires leave a company within 12 months. To improve your onboarding, you must improve that process.
This all starts with your onboarding materials. Companies should use explicit knowledge to create crucial training documents like SOPs, training manuals, company directories, and more.