June 12, 2016

The Knowledge Spiral (Tacit and Explicit)

On 1995 Nonaka published on the HBR an article about the Tacit and Implicit Knowledge Cycle.

Nonaka explained that knowledge could be created by a spiral of 4 steps; Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalisation. First, during the socialization the individual learns the tacit knowledge that can be via sharing experiences, observing or imitating. Then, there exists an externalization that could be writing the knowledge down, communicating or modeling where it becomes from tacit to explicit. As a third step, there's the combination which means standarizing the knoledge in an Explicit -> Explicit transfer such as making a manual or a product combination. And last happens the Internalization where the knowledge enriches its own tacit knowledge base. The importance is that it keeps as a cycle and doesn't stop.

It may be common that in companies, the employees do not know explicitely this process but it is important that the HR function and leaders do. That they are conscious that their processes are supporting the cycle. By assuring it, they will be able to predict a good knowledge translation in their company from tacit to explicit knowledge.

I worked in HR in three different companies (Nestle, Mercedes Benz and Procter and Gamble) and in none of them I heard ever about this topic. I hope it is because this is spoken like this explicitely on the highest levels, otherwise I would be a bit worried about it. What I want to do for sure is implement it on the next place I work. If I get the consulting job I'm looking for I will try to implement it and explain to my customers as well. Maybe it doesn't need to be exactly with the official names but I can translate it into easier words with examples, something to make it even easier to remember and to apply it.

Nonaka Knowledge Cycle

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