Do you like to be a knowledgeable person? I assume the answer for the question from almost all of us is unambiguously “yes”. But how do we be a “Knowledgeable” person? The simplest answer that most of us know is by “Continuous Learning”
So if you say “Continuous Knowledge” helps you to be knowledgeable, how do we do it? What are the different ways of learning continuously?
I like to share some answers on basis of what I heard from others.
Knowledge can be classified into to two forms. One is “tacit” and other one is “explicit”.
So what “tacit” knowledge is? Tacit knowledge is something that is very tough for someone to share it with others. An interesting example of tacit knowledge is your ability to ride a bicycle. If someone who don’t know how to ride a bicycle comes to you and ask, you cannot you give him perfect instructions on how to do it, it is going to be too tough for you to explain. Other good examples of tacit knowledge are intuition, gut feeling etc
On the other hand “explicit” knowledge is very easy to understand. Explicit knowledge is available in many forms like clearly written manuals, technical specifications, well document knowledge base etc which can be passed on to any person in the field to easily understand / execute the same
Understanding the basic meaning of “tacit” and “explicit” knowledge, is it not nice to know how one build on another?
Every one of us has some kind of tacit knowledge which you may not be able to share in an explicit way but it works for you. You could have seen your mentors solving problems in your work environment with ease though he may not be able to explain how he does it.
So to start with the easiest option to build you tacit knowledge is my simply “Observing” what others do. They can be your teachers, your managers, an expert etc. “tacit” knowledge is the easiest form of knowledge to gain in your early days of career.
Once you gain “tacit” knowledge, you should try to make it explicit for benefit of others in the Organization and that is not an easy job. To do this one of the options is to interact with “community of practices”. For example the local PMI chapter could be the community of practices for someone interested in Project Management. Interacting with the community of practices would help you to crystallize your tacit knowledge to something explicit that can be easily shared with others. When many people in an Organization do so, they start building a knowledge base and a knowledge base is a perfect source for someone to build more such explicit knowledge by reading / accessing it.
So now you started with some tacit, built more tacit knowledge by Observing others, converted your tacit knowledge to explicit by crystallizing your thoughts by interacting with Community of Practices for benefit of others and when everyone does the same that gives an option for you also to build more explicit knowledge
But do you think the cycle complete? Looks like no. Building pure explicit knowledge on basis of documented instructions by others alone many times won’t help. To make it really work for you, you may have to apply your own context on top of the explicit knowledge you gained which most likely result in a new “tacit” knowledge
So we started with tacit and ended with more tacit knowledge which would form basis for better explicit knowledge and even better tacit ones in future. This cycle is sustainable and scalable only when you contribute to more such explicit knowledge for benefit of others in form of wiki, blogs, forums, your corporate knowledge base etc