How poetry enhances development of explicit organizational knowledge


In this article, I have in depth described how poetry can be closely related to accessing our tacit knowledge, which in our business world can bring us lot of advantage. Tacit knowledge is represented by all our skills that are not only shaped by our education, but mostly through our life conditions, environment, culture, ext. We could say that tacit knowledge is everything undefined, inexplicable, unknown yet perceived knowledge by one person – usually rooted deeply in the subconsciousness and its largely based on any internalized information.

In the paper “Cooking up a storm: Flavoring organizational learning with poetry” author Grisoni L., argues that poetry can go a step further and actually

create a fusion between tangible, rational and explicit knowledge and tacit or implicit knowledge, providing opportunities to access new organizational knowledge; emotional richness, texture and flavored nuance to organizational knowledge and learning.”

In the mentioned paper, poetry is used as a creative research method and as such it contributes to development of new forms of knowledge. Poetry reveals what is hidden, beneath the ordinary organizational behavior, procedures and policies.

The case study for the paper is based on a group of 60 middle and senior managers from a single organization and they were asked to form small groups of three, share their stories and experiences from their working environment. Listeners would capture key words from these stories and together the small group would develop short poems using the haiku poetic form.

Here are some of the presented haikus:

Change risk move frightened

Thought safe, hidden fear revealed

Moved, sparkling sunshine

Ongoing concern – always

People in need, a start

Towards positive change!

Member of team

Develop role, career

Encouraged, valued.

After successful presentation of hauikus, conclusions that emerged are that working with poetry holds the potential to capture emotion and express the un-sayable with passion, truth and intensity. It provides a supportive underpinning to discussions relating to emotions, which form an important part of the organizational learning literature, surfacing and facilitating dialogue about these issues in a way that other processes may not access.

What’s also interesting is that we do create explicit form of knowledge where our skilled performance is  delivered in new ways through social interaction. In this research paper has been shown that poetry is a wonderful medium for doing that. But, how else can poetry help us in business setting? Any thoughts? Please share in the comments below.


Now that I know
That passion warms little
Of flesh in the mold,
And treasure is brittle,
I’ll lie here and learn
How, over their ground,
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.
Louise Bogan

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How important is tacit knowledge for your creativity and one simple way to get more of it


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?


Raise your emotional inteligence for a creative entrepreneurial leadership – part II

In the first part of this blog post I shared a poem of a young entrepreneur where he reveals his emotions, struggles and needs when it comes to entrepreneurship and for every wannabe entrepreneur out there, was a quiet a taste for “try walking in my shoes”.

But what about the feelings and emotions when our environment expects us to be or do something that is not our ambition, our passion? How to deal with difficult situations that arise when we cannot follow someone else’s dreams; when we need to tell our story, follow our own path? interpersonalThe poem “To my Father’s business” by Kenneth Koch reflects that type of struggle:

Leo bends over his desk   
Gazing at a memorandum   
While Stuart stands beside him   
With a smile, saying,   
“Leo, the order for those desks   
Came in today   
From Youngstown Needle and Thread!”   
C. Loth Inc., there you are   
Like Balboa the conqueror   
Of those who want to buy office furniture   
Or bar fixtures   
In nineteen forty in Cincinnati, Ohio!   
Secretaries pound out   
Invoices on antique typewriters—   
And fingernail biters.   
I am sitting on a desk   
Looking at my daddy   
Who is proud of but feels unsure about   
Some aspects of his little laddie.   
I will go on to explore   
Deep and/or nonsensical themes   
While my father’s on the dark hardwood floor   
Hit by a couple of Ohio sunbeams.   
Kenny, he says, some day you’ll work in the store.   
But I felt “never more” or “never ever”   
Harvard was far away   
World War Two was distant   
Psychoanalysis was extremely expensive   
All of these saved me from you.   
C. Loth you made my father happy   
I saw his face shining   
He laughed a lot, working in you   
He said to Miss Ritter   
His secretary   
“Ritt, this is my boy, Kenny!”   
“Hello there Kenny,” she said   
My heart in an uproar   
I loved you but couldn’t think   
Of staying with you   
I can see the virtues now   
That could come from being in you   
A sense of balance   
Compromise and acceptance—   
Not isolated moments of brilliance   
Like a girl without a shoe,   
But someone that you   
Care for every day—   
Need for customers and the economy   
Don’t go away.   
There were little pamphlets   
Distributed in you   
About success in business   
Each about eight to twelve pages long   
One whole series of them   
All ended with the words   
“P.S. He got the job”   
One a story about a boy who said,   
“I swept up the street, Sir,   
Before you got up.” Or   
“There were five hundred extra    catalogues   
So I took them to people in the city who have a dog”—   
P.S. He got the job.   
I didn’t get the job   
I didn’t think that I could do the job   
I thought I might go crazy in the job   
Staying in you   
You whom I could love   
But not be part of   
The secretaries clicked   
Their Smith Coronas closed at five p.m.   
And took the streetcars to Kentucky then   
And I left too.
Being honest to yourself, yet still honoring someone else’s dream (like your father’s business) is a representation of emotional intelligence and this type of poetry is a true source of knowledge; to help us grow, get mature, responsible and more decisive about our own lives.

Raise your emotional intelligence for creative entrepreneurial leadership- part I

It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”

              ~ David Caruso

While doing research for my next blog post I came across very interesting article “Poetry as a way of knowing” which was actually an introduction to a podcasts at Philosopher’s corner.

In this article Laura Maguire, proposes 3 types of knowledge: having practical knowledge which is “roughly defined as knowledge that does and shall (from a normative, prudential or moral, point of view) motivate to act in a certain way” (as described in paper What is Practical Knowledge?), and mostly is reflected in skills we have to do certain things; then, there is propositional knowledge which is a form of descriptive knowledge and mostly reflected in scientific approach where we collect facts to describe and explain the world around us (where in my previous post I went in depth what are the similarities and differences between science and poetry).

But before going to elaborate the third type of knowledge, not everything is black and white when it comes to first two types. As author Laura Maguire argues:

When you study poetry. presumably you develop many skills, like learning how to interpret a poem, which involves other skills, like how to identify and understand metaphor, how to measure meter, and so on.And maybe if you read a lot of poetry you also develop another skill, namely how to write poetry. So, in that sense, it’s easy to see how poetry could be a way of knowing.

And also through series of my posts I tried to elaborate the benefits of writing and reading poetry for the sake of developing other practical skills – crucial for our self-development. But today I would like to talk more about phenomenal type of knowledge as author Laura Maguire described it and how is that beneficial for our business undertakings.

Phenomenal knowledge is mostly related to knowledge of what is like to have a particular kind of experience. Can we learn form that? In other words, when it comes to business, can we get an insight what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, being self-reliant and building good communication with customers, for example? Can it really enhance our emotional intelligence, in general?mind clip art, intelligence, emotinal intelligence

A poem “Love My Startup More Than You” by Rizwan Virk I found on the zenentreprenur blog and goes like this:

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know that my heart is true

But my Idea is very new
And we’ll make a million dollars
If only I can prove
That the market is true!

Cindy Lu Cindy Lu
Soon I’ll be home
And put my arms around you
But first
I’m being shown
Design specs I must review!

The beta downloads are a jumping
But so are the bugs that need a thumping!

Please let me know
When the baby is asleep
Then I can show
You how we’ll avoid feature creep!

Towards you my sweetheart I’ll always feel
A never ending attraction
But right now what I really need to show
Is more customer traction!

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
Don’t look at me that way,
You’ll worry yourself blue!

Once we raise our series A
Our mortgage will be easy to pay!

And if the company gets in a bind,
My investors will help me find
Some folks that are keen
To assemble a management team
And we’ll be on our way
To making lots of green!

So please don’t think that I’m mean
When I say:

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know my heart is true,
But just right now, 
I love my startup
More than you!

This poem is a sort of an ode to all young and ambitional entrepreneurs in the Sillicon Valey. Virk firmly believes that poetry is a great medium for expression of entrepreneurial ideas, ups and downs that entrepreneurship brings and how it changes life. A poem is instinct with love, confusion, desire for stability and how someone is ready to “put on hold” all of his relationships- because business is the only thing that matter.

I would say that poetry is a source of knowledge and as we can learn a lot about love, death and sorrow in poetry as emotions we can learn a lot about entrepreneurial emotions too: get that practical insight of what it means to be an entrepreneur, along with all victories and sacrifices it requires.

It can help us with our doubts, fears, uncertain decision making, but most importantly it can open new windows of creative sources that are aligned with our values – making us emotionally mature and persistent in our endeavors.