Everything you need to know about organizational knowledge

Equip your team to find organizational info quickly and easily. Jump into a free lesson to learn more about Lessonly Knowledge.

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Organizational Knowledge

What is organizational knowledge? To put it simply, it’s all of the knowledge within an organization that’s beneficial to employees and the overall business. Specific organizational knowledge comes from shared experiences across a company or a team within it.

Organizational knowledge is the lifeblood of successful businesses. Without it, many situations, processes, and even challenges would be treated as a new experience, meaning companies would have to start from scratch every time. In recent surveys, results revealed how challenges around information accessibility negatively impact employees and their productivity.

42% of the skills needed to perform a job satisfactorily are held exclusively by the employee currently doing the job. If they leave, nearly half of the necessary expertise to capably handle their job goes with them. And, whoever steps into that role next has to learn all of that information from scratch.

Types of Knowledge

Organizational knowledge is any piece of data or information gained by the company (via collective individual experience) beneficial to the organization and those within it. The broadness of this term means you can break it down into more specific types of organizational knowledge. These types of knowledge include explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge, and implicit knowledge.

Explicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge is any organizational knowledge easily explained and articulated to ensure the person learning it understands. It is the simplest type of knowledge to codify, store, and access as needed. It is frequently stored in media and can be transmitted to individuals or audiences without hassle. It’s complementary tacit knowledge.

An example of explicit knowledge is anything contained in an encyclopedia or textbook. For a more day-to-day example, imagine driving in an unfamiliar location and getting lost. Fortunately, you have a friend who’s familiar with the area. You call them, and they tell you specific directions to help you get to your location.

Tacit knowledge

Tacit knowledge is knowledge gained through personal experience, unique ideas, and skills won through a process of trial and error. Tacit knowledge is less formal than explicit knowledge and isn’t typically codified. As a result, it is nearly impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t learned it themselves via similar experiences.

Take color, for example. Anyone with intact color vision has a clear understanding of what colors look like. If someone laid out differently colored markers and asked you to say which ones are which, you would likely be able to do so without reading the labels. Colors are simple, and we’ve understood them from a young age.

Now, think of a way to explain colors to a person who has been color blind from birth and has never experienced sight or color for themselves. Suddenly your understanding of colors has become a lot more complicated, hasn’t it?

This is an example of tacit knowledge. The ability to understand and know about a topic because you have experienced it yourself, despite not being able to verbalize the concept to an individual who hasn’t experienced it for themselves.

Implicit knowledge

Implicit knowledge is similar to tacit knowledge, and the two are sometimes considered the same. However, there is a crucial difference. Both are typically gained without realizing you’re learning, but implicit knowledge can be communicated and explained to someone without experience, whereas tacit knowledge cannot be.

Despite implicit knowledge being easily communicated, it rarely ever is because this knowledge is so universal it is assumed that everyone knows it and therefore does not have to be told. It’s typically communicated without indirectly, leading an individual to their own conclusion. This concept is sometimes referred to as “beating around the bush.”

For example, if you were about to touch or set something on a stove and someone said, “Careful, that’s on,” you would stop because, despite not being told directly, you know it will be hot, which means touching it hurts and setting something on it could start a fire.

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Sources of Organizational Knowledge

There are many types of knowledge and almost as many ways of obtaining them. Here are a few examples of organizational knowledge sources.

1. Individual employees

Individual knowledge and organizational knowledge work best when used together. Not all organization members will have the same experiences, which means they won’t all get the information they need unless the individual knowledge is shared — and becomes organizational knowledge.

2. Groups or teams

Organizational knowledge can be gained quickly and more efficiently when individuals work together because they can benefit from each other’s experiences. Then, they can build on the knowledge they share, combine important pieces of knowledge, and further share it across the organization.

Organizational structures

Organizational structures determine the roles each individual will play. Furthermore, this dictates who will gain what information. The proper organizational structure will assign individuals who excel in a specific field to obtain information regarding their area of expertise.

Why Knowledge Management is Important

A lot of companies implement knowledge management systems before understanding why knowledge management is important. Still, every time an employee walks out the door, they take their specific expertise with them. In their absence, vital knowledge that was stored in their minds is now inaccessible by any other employees that may need it now.

It’s actually estimated that the average new hire spends 200 hours working inefficiently because they have to learn required information for themselves. Typically, they learn this information from colleagues’ experience in that area, but 60% of employees reported difficulty obtaining vital information from their colleagues. Additionally, 81% of employees reported feeling frustrated by a lack of knowledge in colleagues’ absence, and 25% stated they feel overwhelmed when they have to relearn information themselves.

This is where the importance of knowledge management in an organization comes into play. Proper organizational knowledge eliminates or significantly decreases these problems by collectively storing information gained from individual and overall company experiences and organizing it to be easily accessed anywhere at any time by anyone who needs it.

Why Knowledge Repository Tools are Necessary

Organizational knowledge is essential, but it can be nearly useless without proper knowledge management. To achieve adequate knowledge management, you need to use the right tools to help store, organize, share, access, and track information. You need knowledge repository tools. Organizational knowledge repositories can get disorganized and hectic, making them difficult to benefit from, and the same applies to any other types of knowledge repositories.

Knowledge repository tools are specifically designed to help you keep track of company knowledge in a place that is well organized and easy to access. This prevents miscommunication, allows remote access, and strengthens communication and collaborative skills.

Manage Organizational Knowledge with Lessonly

Organizational knowledge is vital, and having the right tools to use it is almost just as important. However, there are many options available, and finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Lessonly Knowledge has everything you need to manage your organizational knowledge in one place without hassle. We bring clarity and order to your company’s knowledge in a way that no other knowledge management tool does. Want to learn more? Jump into this lesson to see how teams use Lessonly for their organizational knowledge needs.