Hello everyone! We appreciate that you have joined us today for this knowledge sharing webinar titled: Value, Cultivate and Share Tacit Knowledge.
Dr. Murnane served as the inaugural Assistant Director of Bellevue University's Human Capital Lab and continues to serve as a Senior Research Associate for the Lab. She currently works for Avantas, a healthcare consulting organization that helps health organizations bridge the gap between finance, operations and HR by facilitating a “single version of the truth’. Avantas is the developer of the Smart Square® scheduling and staffing software.Dr. Murnane has worked in strategic planning and research at a Fortune 1000 company. She earned her Ph.D. in Family & Consumer Sciences Education from Iowa State University and her dissertation was “Valuing stakeholder knowledge: An interpretive study of knowledge cultivation and enablement in a nonprofit human services organization”. So as you can see, Jenny has considerable knowledge in this subject matter and I thank her for sharing it with us today.
In our time today, we really want to make this engaging as we share the ideas and importance of knowledge management, specifically tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is a different kind of concept - I will define it more fully in a little bit but to get everyone engaged and participating we’re going to start with a fun quiz to see how many movie buffs we have in the audience. I am going to show you a few pictures and we want you to tell us the movie by typing it in to the Q&A area. There is a method to my madness. We start off with Hollywood and end up with real world! Just stay with me for a bit, if you will.
(#1 – Erin Brockovich) The first movie. Julia Roberts and Albert Finney – based on a true story. Julia actually won an Oscar for this role. Nice job.it is the movie Erin Brockovich.(#2 – Up in the Air) Next is a film from 2009. It was nominated for many awards and did win the Golden Globe for Best Screen Play. I think we all probably recognize George Clooney. It is Up in the Air.(#3 – About Schmidt) We are on a roll. Let’s try this one. Now Jack Nicholson has been in quite a few films and this actually is the movie poster shot and may be a little harder. It’s About Schmidt.(#4 – Devil Wear Prada Ok, final movie: Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway…..Storyline is based on the fashion industry and specifically a renowned fashion magazine. Stanley Tucci is also in the film. It is The Devils Wears Prada.
Nice job. You all seem to be great movie buffs. Well, as you probably guess, besides allowing you all to show me how good you are, there is a reason we featured these movies. All of these films nicely illustrate the idea of how tacit knowledge is used in organizations. Tacit knowledge is an individual’s know-how, beliefs, experiences, and values that he/she brings to an organization or role. Tacit knowledge is retained in an individual's brain and can be used to help him or her function effectively.
It is contrasted with Explicit knowledge which is the more formal aspect of the organizational knowledge such things that are written in procedures, policies, memos, and documents – those things that are written down, readily available and easily shared.
A very simple example to illustrate the two types of knowledge would be:Explicit knowledge is the processes written and trained for healthcare professionals of a particular health organization to administer a medical procedure and document it in the patient’s health record.
Tacit knowledge is the varying knowledge that an individual may bring to the role such as: assessing the demeanor of the patient (know-how), knowing that there is a more efficient order in which the procedure can be done (based on his/her work in a previous organization)(experience) and knowing the right thing to do for a patient in the most critical of situations even when it isn’t written anywhere in a medical book or procedure manual (values).Both explicit and tacit knowledge are evident in an employee’s everyday role. Explicit, though, often seems to be easier to share.So now that we have a brief understanding of tacit knowledge, let’s further discuss the concept by reviewing the movies again.
Erin Brockovich – in this film, Julia Roberts’ character, an employee for a law firm, became immersed in working on a class-action lawsuit against a powerful Electric Company accused of contaminated water and making hundreds of local residents ill. For those who have seen the film, you may recall a powerful scene where she demonstrates, by memory, her vast knowledge of the case and people. Not only does she know the names of the 100+ clients, but she can instantly recall their phone numbers, illnesses, and even, in some cases, their activities and goals. Erin’s ability, passion, and knowledge toward this case, as illustrated in the recollection of such detailed information is something that could not be taught through a training course or reading a procedures manual. Her tacit knowledge, as well as dedication, is what made her truly successful in her role as a Legal Assistant for this firm. This knowledge itself is an example explicit knowledge – that which is written down. But what did Julia’s character do with this knowledge to synthesize and process it and be able to recall it to make her case stronger?
Up in the Air – Actually, one of the minor storylines of this film is why we chose it for our discussion today. George Clooney’s character, Ryan, is a corporate downsizing expert. He flies all over the county, firing other people’s employees. When an up-and-comer Natalie, joins Ryan’s firm, she convinces the management to change the nature of the work by conducting the "firings" virtually by video conferencing rather than incur the large travel expenses to send employees across the country. Ryan believes Natalie does not fully understand the nature of the business and how vital that face-to-face is for this role. His years of experience and tacit knowledge are not easily trained or shared so he must take Natalie on the road with him to help her fully understand the business and all it may entail.
About Schmidt – We featured this film to show you an example of an organization that did NOT value an individual’s tacit knowledge. This shot from the movie is perfect to illustrate this. Warren Schmidt was forced to retire from his organization, his replacement gave Warren an open invitation to return and help him get up to speed on his old accounts. When Warren does visit the office (on his own doing by the way) his successor brushes him off, indicating the invitation was just to be polite. On his way out of the office, Warren finds his old files, where he had taken his tacit knowledge and made it explicit by documenting it, have been taken to the trash. This film is a perfect example of wasting the opportunity to capture a retiree’s tacit knowledge and this is something we’ll explore more in our case studies.
The Devil Wears Prada – The Devil Wears Prada is almost ideal to explain the concept of tacit knowledge and the value it brings to your organizations’ overall knowledge. Again, for those of you who have not seen the film, Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, takes a position as the 2nd Assistant to the powerful, ruthless and merciless executive of a fashion magazine, played by Meryl Streep. The position requires an immense amount of tacit knowledge and is something difficult to teach through documentation and training. For instance, not only must she know the preferences of Miranda, but such an assistant must anticipate and prepare for the unrealistic requests that will follow. This is something that can only be observed and learned individually and with time. One specific example from the film: Miranda, asks Andy to find an unpublished copy of a Harry Potter book. Andy accomplished the virtually impossible task but she truly illustrated her value when she anticipated Miranda’s next request and accomplished it even before it was requested. She had the books bound and delivered to Miranda’s daughters. This shows Andy’s increasing value in her role and how that value increased over time.
WhySo, why should we care?
Yes, we all hear that people are our most important asset. And the importance of managing our organization’s knowledge is understood conceptually, but truly understanding the specific tacit knowledge an employee brings to their role is not as clearly understood.
Let’s do a quick poll. Just out of curiosity, how many of you had heard the term “tacit knowledge” before this event? Go ahead and mark you answer, yes or no, in the poll in front of you.
My guess is that even if you hadn’t heard the term, you have experienced the value of tacit knowledge, likely when an employee was no longer with the company. The void left in this was evident when that knowledge was needed the most. You might notice it in how someone was able to get something done efficiently or maybe an entire process just disappears one day because it was something specific that one person knew how to do.
If in the case of tenured employee, if he or she walked out of the door after years on the job, how many hurdles, set backs and frustrations would have occurred to replace this knowledge? You could sit with a new employee and provide the procedures that usually occur each day, but it would be difficult for someone outside that position to share the history, the day-to-day expectations, the value/cultural aspects of the position….let alone time how time consuming and thus costly it would be to replace this knowledge
So, if this organizational knowledge is so valuable, how do you cultivate it, share and capture it within your organization? Most often, this knowledge sharing is not as proactively documented or purposely managed like explicit knowledge. When faced with the retiring baby boomers, this sharing of tacit knowledge is even more critical. We may not need that knowledge today, but somewhere down the road we will encounter a problem or challenge where we require the knowledge of someone no longer with the organization.
Many organizations have attempted to capture this knowledge from their workforces by codifying it in the form of procedure manuals and databases. An important distinction, I believe, must be made between Knowledge Leadership and Knowledge Management. While knowledge management insinuates the control of knowledge from a process standpoint, Knowledge Leadership, which includes development and cultivation of knowledge, when supported by the appropriate organizational structure, is important in nurturing creation and innovation in knowledge management practices with the hope of improving organizational communications, work practices, and sharing behavior between stakeholders.
Knowledge Leadership is much more impactful to further organizational outcomes. There are two components to Knowledge leadership – cultivation and enablement. Cultivation is the role of organizations in nurturing knowledge as it contributes to creation and innovation – its supporting those front line employees to impact performance by quickly seeing and adapting to internal and external environmental issues and doing something about them as they see them occurring.Enablement, or the realization that individuality of human knowledge in shaping the organization and its environment relies on the development of tacit knowledge within personal relationships within organizational context. Two savvy organizations who are successful in their knowledge leadership are Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and Caterpillar.
(DAU) is an education institution employing 350 instructors and supporting more than 500,000 Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) personnel. The leaders of DAU have taken the management of its knowledge assets so far as to change the culture from a course-focused enterprise to a learning-asset driven enterprise encompassing formal and informal outlets for knowledge sharing. Examples include such things as communities of practice, knowledge repositories, etc. This organization strives for integration of all of these points to access knowledge assets and information. DAU also tries to retain its retirees as long as it can through flexible working arrangements, and in an attempt to retain retirees’ knowledge, has instituted what it calls a “Living Library.”
This Living Library is part of the overall Knowledge Management system supporting the AT&L workforce. The library contains five-to-ten minute videos of retiring leaders who share significant emotional events and summarize the lessons learned from these experiences. In an interview with John Hickok, Director of Knowledge Management for DAU, he emphasized the importance of this Living Library to sustain the organization for the future. DAU realizes that every component contributing to the building of organizational knowledge is an asset to be valued in growing the organization.
Let me share just a few more examples of organizations I have worked with and researched that have unique needs regarding knowledge sharing. One example that is really interesting is the U.S. Peace Corps.Most of you, if you are a typical organization, strive to keep productive employees with your organization as long as possible. The Peace Corps has a unique issue though, in that employees must leave the Peace Corps after 5 years of service. It is important to understand that Peace Corps employees receive this time-limit to ensure that Peace Corps' staff remain as fresh and innovative as its Volunteers. Also, former Peace Corps employees cannot be re-employed by Peace Corps until they have been out of the agency's employment for the same amount of time that they worked for the Peace Corps. Additionally, the Peace Corps has volunteers serving 2 year stints in various countries before moving on to other assignments and this cultural emersion needs to be captured somehow as well as the knowledge they are expected to share.
For this reason and others, the organization had a real issue with knowledge retention. They had difficulty sharing and retaining institutional knowledge and delivering high-quality support to 7,000 volunteers worldwide due to IT infrastructure limitations and the high staff turnover. In response, they created Peace Corps Guru which provides an environment for knowledge sharing by offering its participants community forums, expert events, an expertise exchange, FAQs, and a file library. The community forums are facilitated by subject matter specialists located in headquarters who work to provide timely responses to questions and drive participation to Guru.
I work for Avantas where we serve the healthcare industry with our labor management solutions and strategies. We have several hospital system clients including our majority owner, Alegent Health, a 9 hospital health system in eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa. We are a workforce strategies organization that actually created a scheduling and software product called Smart Square as a result of not being able to find the appropriate tool to best serve our needs.
When considering the value of effectively sharing and cultivating tacit knowledge, though, some organizations don’t focus on the investments and return in monetary value. For non-profit organizations, such as Boys Town, mission achievement is the primary focus. I hope you’ll find this next study fascinating as it directly relates to the power of tacit knowledge in an organization.
A few years ago I worked with Boys Town to conduct a study that asked this very question as to “How did Boys Town cultivate and enable tacit knowledge in the organization to contribute to their mission achievement”. As a side note, this case study will be sent to you following this presentation so you can read more of the specific aspects of the study and outcomes.
For today’s event, I will give you a brief overview. As stated, this study explored how Boys Town used knowledge leadership, encompassing knowledge cultivation and enablement to achieve its mission. Over a period of about 3 months, I collected data through interviews with Boys Town stakeholders consisting of volunteers, employees, and board members and through direct observations of organizational knowledge management activities and analysis of documentation. The findings were that Boys Town highly depends on tacit knowledge in order to achieve its mission. Consistent in its tacit knowledge cultivation and enablement toward its mission, goals, and overall strategy, Boys Town utilized its members' tacit knowledge to help achieve organizational goals .
How do they do it? It was accomplished through stakeholders' knowledge sharing – such as providing constructive feedback, mentoring, collaboration, and storytelling . The stakeholders were open to sharing knowledge with one another, (in fact, they were expected to), and they recorded much of the tacit knowledge through their expertise and lessons learned in newsletters, on the organizational training website, through meeting minutes, archives, policies, etc. – this resulted in a consistent message throughout the organization. this resulted in a consistent message throughout the organization. This consistent message was also aligned with their strategic plan. Every meeting, every interaction in the organization was specifically geared at sharing knowledge around the strategic plan and mission. I heard phrases, such as “the reason we are doing this activity or project is to align with strategic plan item #3” or this aligns with our mission in this way…...
Role playing was one practice the organization used to transfer tacit knowledge. It was used as a training tool during new employee orientation. It was captured on the training website for both new and seasoned employees to refer to.
In an organization such as Boys Town, where the culture is essential to success and a large portion of that success involves support of volunteers, employees and board members, sharing tacit knowledge and having that enablement as part of the culture may explain why they have been successful in their mission for over 90 years. In fact, Boys Town believes this longevity is due, in part, not only to their values and belief in the potential of children and families, but also due to their exceptional skills and knowledge. They KNOW the power of sharing tacit knowledge and they know how to do it well. And they have seen their mission improve as a result of that.Storytelling was another method they used to enable and cultivate their TK and organizational culture. You would often hear the same story being told about their organizational founder, Father Flanagan and specific words he spoke to a child to encourage and further his growth. This same story would be communicated by a very tenured employee who actually worked with Fr. Flanagan, a new volunteer and board members. They would also tell stories about teary eyed graduates of Boys Town coming back to the organization and sharing how their lives had been successful as a result of the foundation they received at Boys TownEven though Boys Town is a non-profit organization and may place greater focus on its mission, I think its an important model for any organization and you can likely see the criticality of focusing on tacit knowledge as part of the organization’s strategy.
Speaking of strategy, this might be a great time to learn of the group’s initiatives and efforts toward knowledge cultivation. We will present two polls. The first, I will ask you - how would you rate your organization’s current knowledge management strategy. POLL 1If tacit knowledge transfer isn’t part of your organization’s strategy, click “not even on the radar”. This builds to where you may be an organization that you feel is one of the best. If this is so, click “no one better!” POLL 2Now for the 2nd poll. I am interested to know what tools or initiatives you may have in place to capture tacit knowledge. You can click more than one response. Thanks for sharing with me! Now let’s discuss the path toward knowledge leadership.
So we’ve looked at Hollywood scenarios and real-life case studies. How do organizations like the ones we’ve discussed today begin to cultivate and enable knowledge management practices successfully? In the case of Boys Town, their practices allowed tacit knowledge to evolve in a non-controlling, non-formalized manner and focusing on the mission of the organization was a constant driver for knowledge enablement and cultivation. With Avantas, our clients have a common framework to share knowledge specific to individual
This can be related to Liebowitz's framework that he applied to for-profit organizations for successful tacit knowledge management implementation. Liebowitz's factors include the following:(a) Strong support from senior management(b) A knowledge management infrastructure(c) Repositories(d) information systems, software, and tools(e) Incentives to encourage knowledge sharing(f) A supportive culture Many of Liebowitz's framework components were prevalent in Boys Town. The strategy for knowledge management was guided by the strategic plan, which was based on the organizational mission.
All of these examples and models are great, but the one thing that is imperative with all these is that you must set up mechanisms where explicit knowledge supports and helps to document and transfer the tacit knowledge of people. This can be in organizational newsletters, your strategic plan, training documents, memos, wikis, mentoring programs, communities of practice, or even in non-textual knowledge documents like pictures. These serve as historic reminders of the work you do, the mission you have and people you serve. Whether you are a for-profit, non-profit or government organization, you are building a culture that enables knowledge sharing, not just managing it.
I really like this quote by David Skyrme: Knowledge leadership is really about getting the best out of your people, their expertise and creativity. Knowledge and leadership are truly a dynamic duo for the future that will go beyond the immediate fad of knowledge management.
The success of DAU,the Peace Corps and Boys Town in implementing knowledge leadership practices can be attributable to their knowledge cultivation cultures in providing leadership of knowledge toward innovation and the overall strategic use of human capital investments. I sincerely hope we’ve provided you some insight and ideas on how to capture and value your organization’s tacit knowledge and I wish you the same success in your knowledge cultivation efforts.
Ok, before we get to the Q&A portion of our time, one final poll – a quiz if you will. Let’s see how much you’ve learned in our time today. Here we go. What outcomes might you find in an organization that truly practices leadership of tacit knowledge:A. More Productive EmployeesB. Greater Work EfficiencyC. Open Communication Channels D. Achievement of organizational mission and strategyE. All of the Above
Valuing, Cultivating, and Effectively Sharing Tacit Knowledge
Valuing, Cultivating, and Effectively Sharing Tacit Knowledge<br />You can listen to today’s webinar using your computer’s speakers or you may dial into the teleconference.<br />If you would like to join the teleconference, <br />please dial 1.866.469.3239 and enter access code: xxx xxx xx.<br />You will be on music hold until the seminar begins.<br />#TMwebinar<br />
Tools You Can Use<br />Polling<br />Polling question will appear in the “Polling” panel. <br />Select your response and click on “Submit.”<br />#TMwebinar<br />
Frequently Asked Questions<br />1. Will I receive a copy of the slides after the webinar?<br />YES<br />2. Will I receive a copy of the webinar recording?<br />YES<br />Please allow up to 2 business days to receive these materials.<br />#TMwebinar<br />
“How did Boys Town cultivate and enable tacit knowledge in the organization to contribute to their mission achievement?”<br />*Full Case study being sent to all registrants following today’s event<br />
The Path Toward<br />Knowledge Leadership<br />Movie still are copyright images of their respective studios and rights holders. Use of a celebrity likeness does not imply any knowledge or endorsement of the presentation content, presenter's commentary, or businesses producing or presenting the material. <br />
Non-textual knowledge documents - pictures</li></li></ul><li>“Knowledge leadership is really about getting the best out of your people, their expertise and creativity. Knowledge and leadership are truly a dynamic duo for the future that will go beyond the immediate fad of knowledge management.”<br /> David Skyrme<br />
Human Capital Investment Strategy<br />Leaders<br />