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If Only . . . Cover

The extended quote below is from a great book, O’Dell and Grayson’s If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice:

“For example, a manager who has just tried out a new sales technique has “tacit” knowledge of it. If he writes it down and posts it on his company’s intranet site, some of that knowledge has become captured and “explicit.” Next, another sales manager reads the description and uses the technique on her next sales trip (hence turns it into “tacit” once more). Knowledge has been captured, exchanged, and created (see Steps in the Knowledge Transfer Process, below). The learning process hence involves the continuous “intersection” of these two knowledge types and a never-ending, closed-loop transformation process.

“Other organizational experts, such as Leif Edvinsson of Skandia, further divide commercial knowledge into individual, organizational, and structural knowledge. Individual knowledge is solely in the minds of employees. Organizational knowledge is the learning that occurs on a group or division level. Structural knowledge is embedded in the “bricks” of the corporation though processes, manuals, and codes of ethics. At any one of these three “states, the knowledge can be either tacit or explicit.

“Knowledge is broader than intellectual capital (IC). Whereas some writers have chosen to expand IC to include practices and processes, in its purest form, IC refers to the commercial value of trademarks, licenses, brand names, formulations, and patents. In this view, knowledge-as-intellectual-capital is an asset, almost tangible. Our use of knowledge is broader: we view knowledge as dynamic — a consequence of action and interaction of people in an organization with information and with each other.

“Knowledge is bigger than information. Our organizations are awash in information, but until people use it, it isn’t knowledge. While you can’t have too much knowledge, you can certainly have too much information. Indeed, many organizations have already discovered that information, carried faster and in greater volumes by electronic media, leaves employees overwhelmed, not overconfident. Fumbling rather than focused. Paralyzed rather than proactive.

“Hence, our simple working definition: Knowledge is information in action. In the organizational and commercial context of this book, knowledge is what people in an organization know about their customers, products, processes, mistakes, and successes, whether that knowledge is tacit or explicit.”