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Capturing tacit knowledge can save your company millions. Here’s how...

Capturing tacit knowledge can save your company millions. Here’s how...

As we all know, losing a valued team member is never easy. A major part of the pain that teams experience is the knowledge void that is created when a member leaves. Even in the best circumstances when they give proper notice, help transition their role to someone else and create status documents outlining their current work, there are always hurdles to get through as soon as they step out the door. What the team member took with them is tacit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to document only through written word or by verbalization. It’s often the kind of knowledge people don’t realize they have and that it is valuable to other people.

It is reported that it can cost up to 50% of someone’s annual salary to replace their knowledge and as much as 150% of a senior executive’s salary.

While it would be nice to clone that person and keep a copy of them with you, it’s unrealistic to think you are ever going to retain 100% of their know-how and insights. What you can do though is identify key pieces of knowledge someone does possess and document it through audio, video, notes, etc.

Key pieces of knowledge you might consider capturing:

  • Unique processes

  • Vendor and partner relationships

  • Project and initiative insights

  • File and asset context

  • Opinions, view points, and strategic thinking

In a recent fireside chat, we spoke with Dan Fredericksen, a knowledge harvester who helps companies turn valuable tacit knowledge into explicit tools. In these specific examples Dan tells us how he saved Georgia Pacific millions of dollars documenting two separate pieces of knowledge from employees and turning that knowledge into useful tools for future team members to use.

 

Dan was also able to shed light on why we are at a tipping point where tacit knowledge is making certain industries vulnerable.

 
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