3 Types of Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is about capturing, organizing, sharing, and using knowledge to make it more accessible to everyone.

knowledge management tools for project managers

This article will discuss the three main knowledge management tools you should be aware of as a PM: knowledge mapping, collaboration tools, and business intelligence software.

There are three different kinds of knowledge to address in knowledge management.

Knowledge management is about more than just explicit knowledge and also includes tacit, embodied, and even implicit knowledge.

Explicit knowledge is what you can easily express in words or numbers. Tacit knowledge is the kind of understanding that’s difficult to put into words but influences how people act and make decisions.

Embodied knowledge refers to physical skills developed over time through practice; for example, an experienced carpenter has embodied knowledge about tools and techniques that make them more efficient at their job.

Implicit knowledge comprises beliefs and assumptions—things we take for granted but don’t always realize influence our actions or decisions.

Verint experts say, “Imagine if your knowledge management software worked the same way your brain works. Imagine your software automatically understanding concepts without manual intervention.” What wonders can this unique technology do?

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Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge is the kind that you can’t easily articulate or write down. It’s the stuff you have in your head but can’t easily explain, which makes it challenging to share with others and, therefore, hard to incorporate into your company’s culture.

That’s not to say it isn’t valuable—tacit knowledge is often the most valuable kind of knowledge a company has. If an employee knows something must be done but isn’t willing or able to verbalize this information, then other people will have difficulty learning from it.

Tacit knowledge is also incredibly hard for new employees who haven’t spent as much time with their coworkers as older employees do. Without asking questions about what happened in previous projects and why things work the way they do, new hires wouldn’t be able to keep up with all those projects by themselves.

Explicit Knowledge

Explicit knowledge is what we can put into words. It’s information that you can easily share with others and is the most common type of knowledge. Think about your job: how much time do you spend writing emails? This is explicit knowledge because it’s written down for others to read. 

Explicit knowledge is easy to find because it’s written down in a file on your computer, in an email in your inbox, or even just scribbled on a notepad next to your desk. It’s also easy to transfer: if someone else wants some of that information, they need to ask for it!

However, there are some downsides, too: explicit knowledge isn’t always very accurate as sometimes people write things down wrong or forget things that happened (they “misremember”).

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Embodied Knowledge

Embodied knowledge is the experience and expertise that employees bring to the organization. It’s not written down but is learned through practice. Embodied knowledge is embedded in the organization’s processes, culture and relationships.

Unlike explicit or tacit knowledge, you cannot transfer information easily using embodied knowledge. Instead, employees need to build new relationships and experiences within their organizations before their embodied knowledge becomes useful for others.

With so many types of knowledge management, it’s easy to get confused about where to start. But by understanding the different types and their applications, you can make some decisions that will help you get started with KM in your organization.

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