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Blog / Knowledge Management

7 Types of Knowledge Management in an Organization

7 types of knowledge management: explicit, implicit, tacit, procedural, embedded, strategic, declarative.

Different types of knowledge management are woven into the fabric of every contemporary organization, influencing their operations and competitive abilities. Statistics underscore the importance of effective knowledge management practices: 75% of organizations believe knowledge management is important for their corporate strategy, yet only 25% of companies have a company-wide approach to knowledge management.  

As knowledge inherently exists in numerous forms, this article will delineate the seven principal types of knowledge management: explicit, implicit, tacit, procedural, embedded, strategic, and declarative. These varying forms highlight the diverse ways in which knowledge can be captured, organized, shared, and utilized within an organization, thereby giving readers an exhaustive perspective of its manifestation.  


What is knowledge?

Knowledge is more than just information; it's the culmination of insights, experiences, and understanding that shapes our perception and actions. At its core, knowledge represents the collective wisdom and learning amassed over time. It encompasses facts, skills, intuitions, and expertise acquired through various means, including education, observation, and personal discovery. 

Distinguishing between data and knowledge is essential. While data comprises raw facts and figures, knowledge adds context, interpretation, and meaning to these pieces of information. It's the difference between knowing that something exists and understanding its significance and implications. As individuals engage with new ideas, challenges, and experiences, they expand their knowledge base and refine their understanding and perspectives along the way. 

In the context of organizations, knowledge holds immense value as a strategic asset. It drives innovation, informs decision-making, and enables businesses to adapt and thrive in a competitive landscape. By harnessing and leveraging knowledge effectively, organizations can unlock new opportunities, solve complex problems, and achieve sustainable growth. 


What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management is a strategic discipline, a deliberate process where information, resources, and the skills of a workforce are optimally handled, analyzed, and utilized to add value to the organization and enhance its competitiveness. Knowledge management does not merely imply data collection but embraces the practical application of knowledge to improve operational efficiency and foster a productive workforce. 

The wide-spread adoption of knowledge management is attributed to myriad tools, systems, and strategies employed by organizations. From intranets to databases, CRM systems to AI, organizations choose tools and systems that blend with their unique context. Strategies may incorporate knowledge audits, technology infrastructure, human resource selection, and scenario planning, all oriented towards knowledge creation, sharing, use, and preservation. 

Knowledge management manifests itself in various types and forms, each bringing unique benefits and challenges. Understanding the benefit of knowledge management requires a deeper delve into its core types of knowledge management. 


Getting started with the types of knowledge management in your organization

Understanding the types of knowledge management is fundamental to optimizing organizational performance, fostering innovation, and maintaining a competitive edge. With the seven types of knowledge, organizations can implement targeted strategies to foster the right kind of knowledge sharing and learning in their respective domains.  Definition of 7 types of knowledge management.

1. Explicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge refers to formalized, codified, and easily articulated information that can be readily documented, stored, and transmitted within an organization. It encompasses tangible data, facts, procedures, and guidelines that are explicit and accessible to individuals.  

Explicit knowledge is crucial for standardizing processes, reducing errors, facilitating learning, and ensuring consistency in operations within organizations. 

Example of explicit knowledge  

Employee handbooks containing policies, procedures, and guidelines for various aspects of the workplace, such as code of conduct, HR policies, and safety procedures. 

Methods of sharing explicit knowledge 

  • Centralized databases: Establishing centralized repositories or databases where documents, manuals, and guidelines can be stored, accessed, and updated by relevant stakeholders. 
  • Intranet portals: Creating internal web-based platforms or intranet portals that provide employees with easy access to organizational policies, procedures, and other relevant information. 
  • Collaborative document management systems: Implementing systems that allow for collaborative editing, version control, and sharing of documents among team members, ensuring real-time access and updates. 
  • Knowledge sharing sessions: Conducting training sessions, workshops, or seminars to disseminate explicit knowledge on specific topics or processes to relevant employees, fostering a culture of continuous learning and knowledge exchange. 

 2. Implicit knowledge

Implicit knowledge refers to the unspoken expertise, insights, and intuitions gained through experience and practice, which are often difficult to articulate but significantly influence decision-making and problem-solving. It encompasses the subtle nuances and "know-how" that individuals develop over time, contributing to their effectiveness and proficiency in their respective domains.  

Implicit knowledge plays a crucial role in driving innovation, improving performance, and achieving organizational goals. 

Example of implicit knowledge 

A graphic designer's ability to intuitively select colors and typography to create visually appealing designs that resonate with the target audience, based on years of experience and aesthetic sensibility. 

Methods of sharing implicit knowledge 

  • Mentorship programs: Pairing experienced individuals with less experienced ones to facilitate knowledge transfer through practical guidance, feedback, and shared experiences. 
  • Collaborative projects: Encouraging team collaboration on projects where implicit knowledge can be exchanged and leveraged to tackle complex challenges. 
  • Communities of practice: Establishing forums or discussion groups where professionals with similar interests or expertise can share insights, exchange ideas, and learn from each other's experiences. 
  • Storytelling sessions: Providing opportunities for employees to share anecdotes, case studies, and real-life examples that highlight the application of implicit knowledge in solving problems or achieving success. 

3. Tacit knowledge

Tacit knowledge refers to the implicit, unspoken knowledge, skills, insights, and intuitions that individuals possess but find challenging to articulate or transfer to others. It is deeply ingrained through personal experiences, practice, and intuition, shaping individuals' abilities to perform tasks, solve problems, and make decisions effectively.  

Tacit knowledge is important because it drives innovation, enhances performance, and fosters expertise within organizations. It complements explicit knowledge by providing context, intuition, and practical wisdom essential for success in various domains. 

Example of tacit knowledge 

A seasoned chef's ability to create complex flavor combinations intuitively, without following a recipe, or an experienced salesperson's knack for building rapport and understanding customer needs through subtle cues. 

Methods of sharing tacit knowledge 

  • Mentorship and apprenticeships: Pairing experienced individuals with less experienced ones to facilitate knowledge transfer through direct observation, guidance, and feedback. 
  • On-the-job training: Providing opportunities for hands-on learning and skill development in real-world settings, where tacit knowledge can be acquired through experiential learning. 
  • Communities of practice: Establishing forums or groups where individuals with similar interests or expertise can come together to share experiences, insights, and best practices. 
  • Storytelling and reflection: Encouraging employees to share anecdotes, stories, and personal experiences that highlight tacit knowledge and lessons learned, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and continuous improvement. 

4. Procedural knowledge

Procedural knowledge pertains to the understanding of how specific tasks are performed or actions are executed. It involves the step-by-step procedures and methods required to achieve desired outcomes.  

Procedural knowledge is vital for ensuring consistency, quality, and efficiency in task execution within organizations. It forms the basis for standard operating procedures and best practices, enhancing productivity and reducing errors. 

Example of procedural knowledge 

Manufacturing assembly line procedures, software development methodologies, and customer service protocols. 

Methods of sharing procedural knowledge 

  • Job training sessions: Conducting regular training sessions to educate employees on procedural guidelines and best practices. 
  • Instructional videos: Creating visual guides or tutorials that demonstrate step-by-step procedures for specific tasks. 
  • Workflow diagrams: Using flowcharts or process maps to visually represent procedural sequences and decision points, aiding understanding and adherence. 
  • Knowledge sharing platforms: Establishing online repositories or knowledge bases where employees can access procedural documents, manuals, and guidelines anytime, anywhere. 

5. Embedded knowledge

Embedded knowledge refers to the knowledge that is ingrained within organizational systems, processes, routines, and practices. It is not easily accessible or articulated but is critical for sustaining unique competencies, maintaining competitive advantage, and driving organizational performance.  

Embedded knowledge encompasses the implicit understanding of how things work within an organization, including its culture, norms, and ways of operating. 

Example of embedded knowledge 

The unique customer service processes and practices adopted by a successful e-commerce company, which are embedded within its customer relationship management (CRM) system, online platforms, and organizational culture. 

Methods of sharing embedded knowledge 

  • Knowledge-based systems: Implementing technological systems or software tools that capture, store, and disseminate embedded knowledge, such as CRM systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and knowledge management platforms. 
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs): Documenting and formalizing embedded knowledge into SOPs, guidelines, and best practices that can be shared and followed by employees across the organization. 
  • Organizational culture: Fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and learning, where embedded knowledge is transmitted through informal channels, social interactions, and shared experiences among employees. 
  • Training and onboarding: Incorporating embedded knowledge into employee training and onboarding programs, where new hires can learn about organizational practices, norms, and values from experienced colleagues and mentors. 

6. Strategic knowledge

Strategic knowledge encompasses the understanding of an organization's long-term goals, competitive landscape, market trends, and industry dynamics. It involves the strategic use and development of corporate knowledge to achieve organizational objectives, make informed decisions, and drive growth.  

Strategic knowledge is crucial for guiding planning, resource allocation, and innovation initiatives within organizations, ensuring alignment with overarching strategic objectives. 

Example of strategic knowledge 

Google's strategic knowledge of search engine algorithms and its application to its technology development, which has contributed significantly to its dominance in the online search market. 

Methods of sharing strategic knowledge 

  • Training programs: Conducting strategic training sessions or workshops to educate employees about the organization's strategic objectives, market positioning, and competitive landscape. 
  • Strategic discussions: Organizing forums, meetings, or brainstorming sessions where key stakeholders can share insights, exchange ideas, and collaborate on strategic initiatives. 
  • Flexible corporate culture: Cultivating a culture that values transparency, open communication, and cross-functional collaboration, enabling the sharing of strategic knowledge across different departments and levels of the organization. 
  • Knowledge repositories: Establishing centralized repositories or databases where strategic documents, reports, analyses, and insights can be stored, accessed, and shared among relevant stakeholders, ensuring alignment and coherence in strategic decision-making. 

7. Declarative knowledge

Declarative knowledge refers to factual information, concepts, and theories that can be explicitly stated, described, or defined. It encompasses knowledge about specific facts, principles, rules, and concepts that individuals can articulate and communicate.

Declarative knowledge is important because it forms the foundation for learning and understanding other types of knowledge. It provides individuals with a fundamental understanding of various subjects, enabling them to make informed decisions, solve problems, and acquire new skills. 

Example of declarative knowledge 

Knowing that Paris is the capital of France, understanding the laws of physics, or being able to recite historical events. 

Methods of sharing declarative knowledge 

  • Structured lessons: Conducting formal teaching sessions or educational programs where instructors present factual information, concepts, and theories to learners in a structured and organized manner. 
  • Seminars and workshops: Hosting interactive sessions or workshops where subject matter experts share their knowledge and expertise on specific topics or subjects. 
  • Informative presentations: Delivering informative presentations or lectures using multimedia tools, visual aids, and interactive technologies to engage and educate audiences. 
  • Online resources: Creating and sharing online resources such as articles, blogs, videos, or tutorials that provide factual information and explanations on various subjects, making knowledge accessible to a wider audience. 

Getting started with a call center knowledge management system 

Successfully analyzing and applying these seven types of knowledge management into the workplace can drastically improve operations. Merely being aware of the seven types is insufficient; their incorporation into practices requires strategic effort. When effectively utilized, its impact echoes through increased efficiency, enhanced innovation, and organizational success. The understanding and leveraging of these knowledge types is not merely an option, but a mandate for any forward-looking organization. 

Visit our features page to learn more about how you can apply the different types of knowledge management in your organization. 


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