We admit it: we love knowledge.

In all its forms. So today we are very happy because we are here to talk to you about the 3 types of knowledge there are.

Yes, that’s right: we said 3.

And why should you care about this?

Because each type of knowledge has its own way of being transmitted. Just one.

And if you don’t know which one to use, all the efforts you make to transmit that information will fall on deaf ears.

And we don’t want that.

So don’t miss what we are going to tell you about the three types of knowledge: explicit knowledge, implicit knowledge and tacit knowledge.

And how to transmit them, of course.

Do you follow us?

What is explicit knowledge?

Let’s start with the easy one.

This is probably the first type of knowledge that comes to your mind: the knowledge you have always acquired through manuals, classes and other forms of traditional learning.

Explicit knowledge overdose.

Explicit knowledge is organized and structured. It is easy to express in words and, therefore, to disseminate.

What is the best thing about this type of knowledge for your company?

It is very easy to transmit to any member of your team. You just need to find a format in which to do it and voilà! Let’s learn.

In short: explicit knowledge is cool.

By the way, if you want to prevent your employees from suffering «overdoses» like the one above, microlearning is the ideal format for your trainings.

What is implicit knowledge?

Implicit knowledge is the practical application of explicit knowledge.

What does this mean?

That once we internalize explicit knowledge we apply it almost without realizing it.

And that is implicit knowledge.

The clearest example in a company are the processes to carry out the work. Although you have never stopped to think about it, implicit knowledge is probably the most transmitted type of knowledge among the members of your team.

Especially when a new person joins. That’s why a good onboarding process for new members of your staff is so important.

Because it’s no good if you tell the new person joining the department «Log into the system and look at the stock of this product».

«Enter the system, how?; Where can I check the stock?; What is the reference of this product?».

Will it be just as difficult to get to the coffee shop?

To transmit it successfully, we must stop taking for granted all those things that we do mechanically and that the new person has not yet had time to assimilate.

And you will say: «fine, they can just ask questions and find their way».

Well… yes.

And no.

Because it’s not always possible to go to that person who knows how to do it all (and who -innocently- you hope will never retire).

And if part of your team works remotely, that’s out of the question.

In short: make this type of knowledge accessible to all your staff so that they can quickly consult it whenever they need it (before it’s too late).

What is tacit knowledge?

Let’s go now to the most puzzling and mysterious type of knowledge: tacit knowledge.

Unlike explicit knowledge (which we already said was cool), (and that’s not so cool).


Because it cannot be expressed in words. In fact, many times we are not even aware of having it.

She, at least, is not aware of it.

We acquire tacit knowledge through experience. Applying to different circumstances the knowledge we have assimilated without realizing it. Want an example? Here it goes.

Are you a cooking wiz?

Whether you are or not, I’m sure Google has given you a helping hand (or two) when it comes to cooking something tasty (or edible).

So far, so good.

But what happens when you want to prepare that dish so typical of your home? Yes, that one that has such a special touch that you can’t find the recipe no matter how hard you search on the Internet.

Well, you end up asking the person who knows how to cook it. Seems logical, isn’t it?

But then you find that your questions have answers like these:

«When do I lower the fire? Well, I don’t know; I know by looking».
«How much paprika? It depends; I add it as I cook».

Frustration. Anguish. Despair.

Relax; if he could do it, so can you.

How can that person always nail the dish if (s)he doesn’t know how to prepare it?

Stop there! Wait a minute.

There, right there, is the crux of the matter.

(S)He does know; the proof is in the fact that (s)he always gets it right. What happens is that (s)he is not even aware of having that knowledge.

That’s why they are so difficult to pass on: their application varies according to the context.

Your father, your grandmother or whoever holds the secret of your family’s recipe did not learn cooking in a course; they learned by watching how someone else cooked. And little by little they applied what they assimilated unconsciously.

That’s why now (s)he has no idea how (s)he knows when to turn down the heat. (S)He just knows.

So good luck with your recipe.

Stop there! (Again)

We’ve said that tacit knowledge was difficult to pass on. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The thing has its intricacies, but it is possible.

And thank goodness, because the tacit knowledge of your company is one of the differentiating factors that can make it stand out from your competition.

And since here we like questions (and answers), we are going to answer that big question that now occupies all your conscious thoughts: how can you transmit tacit knowledge within your company?

Do you want to know? Well, read on, we’ll tell in a minute.

How is knowledge transformed?

Wonder of wonders: not only are there three types of knowledge, but they are also transformed, i.e. explicit knowledge can be converted into tacit knowledge and vice versa.

How is this possible?

Well, Nonaka and Takeuchi explained it very well with their knowledge conversion spiral.

We’ll explain it deeper:

Knowledge is constantly growing and is enriched by the experience of the person who acquires it and by the experience of those with whom the person shares it.

That is to say: the transmission of knowledge constantly generates new knowledge.

How does this happen?

Well, it depends on the type of knowledge involved; there are four different processes:

1. Socialization

The word alone is beautiful, isn’t it?

Of course it is. Because it involves interacting with other team members and learning from that knowledge they have but don’t know how to express in words.

We already told you that socialization was cool.

Exactly: tacit knowledge.

Through observation and experimentation, socialization turns tacit knowledge into tacit knowledge… in someone else.

In other words, if you want to transmit tacit knowledge in your company, you need your team to interact closely. And by close we mean face to face in the physical world, not through a screen.

2. Externalizing

You will like externalizing, you’ll see.

Because it will help you transform tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. And you know what that means, don’t you?

That once made explicit, you will be able to transmit that knowledge in a structured way to your entire team.

How do you do that?

Through physical interaction, just as in socialization, but introducing dialogue, questions and ways of conveying unstructured information so that the interlocutor understands it. Metaphors and analogies often come in handy here.

3. Combination

And now that we have converted tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, what do we do with it?

We can expand and improve it.

We can classify it or expand it, adding more explicit knowledge or combining it with it.

That is, we transform explicit knowledge into new explicit knowledge.

And, best of all, we can transmit this enriched knowledge through any learning format.

4. Internalization

Here comes the last transformation, internalization, which converts explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge.

You know that as soon as we assimilate explicit knowledge, we lack time to put it into practice.

Mental note: assimilate before practicing.

What comes next will surely ring a bell: with the implementation of explicit knowledge we get to implicit knowledge.

And after experimenting, there comes a time when all that knowledge is assimilated unconsciously and… it turns into tacit knowledge.

And so on to infinity and beyond, since, as you may have deduced, this tacit knowledge can evolve again to explicit knowledge. And during this process, knowledge is enriched.

It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

How to transmit knowledge in your company?

This is where you wanted to get to, isn’t it?

Well, don’t worry, we have the solution you need to spread knowledge within your company.

Do you know Zap?

Zap is the Zapiens bot and, allow us a little spoiler, it will put an end to those problems of knowledge transmission that we have mentioned before.

Because it manages and organizes all your company’s knowledge.

So whenever someone has a question, they can ask Zap. No more milling around from table to table or sending emails looking for an answer that no one seems to have.

If Zap knows the answer, it’ll give it immediately, and if it doesn’t, it’ll ask the expert on the subject within your organization (so the day this expert retires you won’t be so upset 😉).

And that answer will be recorded forever, ready for whenever someone needs it.

What do you think?

Want to check it out? Well, sign up for free, you have up to 20 free users forever (and that’s a long, long time, and I’m sure you’ll find the time to do it).

Are you clear on how to transmit the different types of knowledge in your company?

Now that you know how many types of knowledge there are (and how they work), you have no excuse for not managing knowledge in a decent way.

Don’t keep this information to yourself and contribute to the spread of knowledge around the universe (and social networks); if you liked it, share it with more cool people like you.

FREE for up to 20 users

The easiest way to train your team, manage knowledge in your company and learn something new every day.