Organizational Knowledge

Knowledge management in organizations is important because it improves decision-making and accelerates learning, efficiency, innovation, and agility. There are hundreds of terms associated with organizational knowledge. This glossary covers some of the most common ones used to describe the tools, techniques, and tactics of this essential component of organizational life.

What is Organizational Knowledge

Organizational knowledge is all the knowledge contained within an organization that provides business value. Organizational knowledge resources include things like product knowledge, intellectual property, customer communications, employee handbooks, manuals, and lessons of success and failure. It is a living type of information that is created, used, and shared by people (human capital). There are 4 main types of organizational knowledge: tacit, explicit, individual, and/or collective.

Tacit Knowledge

Abilities that are difficult to communicate or teach are known as tacit knowledge. Often referred to as implicit knowledge or wisdom, it’s considered mostly inaccessible. For example, “natural salespeople” have innate skills that can be difficult to transfer to others. Because it’s difficult for competitors to duplicate, tacit knowledge is essential to competitive advantage.

Explicit Knowledge

All knowledge that isn’t tacit or implicit, explicit knowledge is captured in documents and other media, through oral or written language, or in any other tangible manner. It can be expressed in words (or numbers) and is easily stored and shared by writing it down and putting it into things like databases or manuals. Structural knowledge is often explicit. Information contained in encyclopedias and textbooks are good examples.

Individual Knowledge

Learning and knowledge in any organization begins with its individuals. Individual knowledge includes the skills, learning, personal abilities, and communication preferences that influence how a person prioritizes, seeks information, and otherwise performs work tasks. An organization’s knowledge sharing culture determines how effective individual efforts can be, particularly in employee motivation.

Collective Knowledge

The way in which knowledge is gathered, distributed, and shared amongst members of an organization. It encompasses the rules, procedures, and processes which guide how people communicate with each other and collaboratively use knowledge for problem-solving.

Knowledge Organization

How an organization categorizes its knowledge assets. The importance of knowledge organization is most evident in smarter workforces that are equipped to make quick, informed decisions that benefit the organization. Activities in knowledge organization include classifying, mapping, indexing, and categorizing knowledge for easy storage, navigation, and retrieval. It is essential that knowledge is prepared in such a way that it can be easily identified, understood, and accessed by users.

Organizational knowledge management is tied to organizational goals. It is the orderly management of an organization’s knowledge assets for the purpose of creating value and meeting strategic requirements. Good knowledge management provides the right tools, culture, and structures to enhance employee learning and productivity.

An organization’s accumulated intellectual resources in the form of ideas, information, understanding, memory, capabilities, and cognitive and technical skills.

Organizational Knowledge Base

An organizational knowledge base is much more than a library of information. It is a centralized repository that facilitates storage, organization, and sharing of information. Used internally, it allows employees to collaborate and distribute all company knowledge and information. Used externally, it provides customers with a self-service resource where they can learn about products and services, troubleshoot problems, and get answers to frequently asked questions.

Knowledge Sharing

Organizational knowledge sharing is an activity through which knowledge is exchanged among people. It is supported by a knowledge management system that contains the 4 types of organizational knowledge users can access to answer questions and solve problems. A part of the way teams collaborate, knowledge sharing can be defined as “people working smarter together.” Encouraging organizational knowledge sharing helps produce greater business outcomes.

Organizational Knowledge Best Practices

Processes or methodologies that have proven to work well and produce good results. Modern best practices in organizational knowledge sharing include educating users on the benefits of other people’s experience, encouraging open and frequent communication, and using a state-of-the-art knowledge sharing platform.

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