We could say that tacit knowledge represents everything undefined, inexplicable, unknown yet perceived knowledge by one person – usually rooted deeply in the subconsciousness and its largely based on his or her emotions, experiences, intuition, observations, any internalized information. It is the knowledge we all have, we all use – it influences our judgment, decisions and it’s kind of a framework that makes explicit knowledge viable. For first time, it was conveyed by the Hungarian philosopher-chemist Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) in his 1966 book ‘The Tacit Dimension.’
Innovations and innovative thinking are mostly related to science, to factual representation of knowledge. It’s a knowledge completely rationalized and most importantly verified – verified by accepted methods and methodologies. Yet for any innovative thought to be brought to surface, it has to have some sort of ignition point: unease, desire, need, unconformity that propels us in searching for new solutions and expressions – being that technology, art or science. That ignition point is our tacit knowledge.
In a research paper ‘Bicycling on the Moon: Collective Tacit Knowledge and Somatic-limit Tacit Knowledge’ author Collins H., argues that:
This knowledge has to be known tacitly, because it is located in human collectivities and, therefore can never be the property of any one individual. The simplest way to see this is to note the changes in content of the knowledge belonging to communities is beyond the control of the individuals within the communities.
In any entrepreneurial pursuit, or development of organizational knowledge accessing individual tacit knowledge is the center of creation and finding channels for verbalizing, sharing and expressing this knowledge is of vital importance.
We are not always able to recognize our tacit knowledge, but it is who we are; sometimes it turns out of nowhere as an intuition, or an attitude. It can be a surge of unorganized impulses and discomforts. One form of this outlet can be directed through poetry.
In the paper ‘Personal Performatives: Collecting Poetical Definitions of Management’ author Kostera M., firmly believes that:
Poems are also therefore an act of discovery, and require a degree of effort to write and to be understood. Poetry can cut through superficiality and help us to see the world differently. Poetry, as an approach is well suited for expressing the ambivalence and volatility of the managerial experience.
I. A. Richards, literary critique liked to call that
a pseudo-statement of words which is justified entirely by its effect in releasing or organizing our impulses and attitudes.
We can think of writing a poetry as a sort of revelation, an imaginative “living of the situation” and we emerge from that experience like it really happened. It reframes our values, our goals, needs and it dictates the further factual exploring we strive to. Poetry is a lens through which we can see real truth and it’s no strange that some philosophers like Aristotle were afraid of poetry, that it can destabilize well run state.
Tacit knowledge is a particular challenge for knowledge management. Companies would like to prevent knowledge loss due to employee migration. Long gone are the days when employee would stay in one company for twenty + years. Now it’s usual that people change jobs more frequently – even every 2-3 years. In my 15 years of professional experience I’m in my fifth different (entrepreneurial) engagement. However, tacit knowledge almost always goes with the employee.
Tacit knowledge is essential to competitive advantage because it is that special ingredient that nobody can copy. Individuality and originality. Forms of tacit knowledge may include emotional intelligence, leadership skills, humor, sense for music, aesthetics, rhythm, cultural inheritance – practically all hidden talents.
It’s the reason some companies pump out innovation after innovation while other experience saturation.
Mapping your subconscious mind through poetry can be a key to your creativity. As a poet Wallace Stevens said:
Is the poem both peculiar and general?
There’s a meditation there, in which there seems
To be an evasion, a thing not apprehended or
not apprehended well.
Does the poet evade us as a senseless element
Evade, this hot depended orator
The spokesman at our bluntest barriers
Exponent by a form of speech, the speaker
Of a speech only a little of the tongue?