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Implicitly Explicit

Implicitly Explicit

At the Million Dollar Club’s meeting in St. Lucia we all present our visions of near-term trends in business and services. I’ll share one of mine here.

Just-in-Time mindsets have been applied to save huge amounts of manufacturing costs, inventory expense, and labor time. The same philosophy is being used for knowledge (Just in Time Knowledge: JITK) when you quickly use Google while writing an article or apply a macro to a common document.

It strikes me that social media platforms often provide the same utility, spreading word of a developing events on a wide basis, or keeping a colleague informed of unfolding issues on a personal level. (I also believe that the future shakeouts of these platforms will result in specialist uses that permit JITK more expeditiously.)

The iPhone is a splendid example of a multitude of ways to acquire JITK with 75,000 apps, many of which are designed for that very purpose. Many of you are reading this on computers with a “help” menu readily available at the top of the screen.

The trend I see is an increasing need to make explicit knowledge implicit, and implicit knowledge explicit. That is, what is available in a manual or tutorial must be rapidly accessible and immediately applicable by an individual when that knowledge is needed; and conversely, the stuff inside my head which I’ve learned on the job and through experience must be institutionalized, so that everyone else can take advantage of my best practices, and I theirs. (If you’re interested, there is a tough-to-read but fascinating book called The Knowledge Creating Company by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi from quite a few years ago.)

As consultants, we can provide huge value in helping clients to employ modern technology, incentives (people have to volunteer their implicit knowledge in most cases), and processes to maximize these transfusions. The more employees do not have to reinvent the wheel, labor through instructions meant to cover every contingency (ever go to a technical company’s “help” page?!), and tediously teach everyone everything they know, the more effective and efficient the operation.

Think about helping this cross-pollination, no matter what kind of consulting or coaching you engage in. Rapid response and the elimination of failure and repetitive work are extraordinarily valuable in virtually every business and non-profit. You can add value to your services by ensuring that accessible knowledge from both the organization and the individual is in the right place at the right time.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

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Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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