Tacit Knowledge LO2038

David E. Birren, MB/5, 608.267.2442 (BIRRED@dnr.state.wi.us)
Tue, 11 Jul 1995 12:35 CST

Replying to Mike McMaster in "Nonaka and Takeuchi" LO2027:

[Host's note: I've changed the subject line; David proposed "Implicit
knowledge," but I'd like to have us keep the terminology Tacit and
Explicit, as in recent threads.]

I sure enjoyed Mike's diatribe about Nonaka and Takeuchi. I haven't read
the book, so I can take no position in the discussion, but I would like to
comment on a point.

>>>Tacit (implicit) knowledge cannot be converted into explicit

>To be accurate, some of what is tacit can be converted. A tiny
>percentage of the whole. Why a tiny percentage? Because every word,
>every statement, every theory has a vast history of culture, language
>conventions, physical structure, cross-referencing thought, etc which
>cannot ever be made explicit. So a bit of what is implicit can be
>made explicit. And some of this is useful in learning. But there is
>much more embedded, implied, assumed and presupposed than will ever
>be touched on explicitly.

>I suggest that the job is to make the implicit available - very
>different from explicit in many cases - and to make the implicit
>manifest. There is often little need for much of it to be explicit.

In its ability to surface assumptions and get them into the open, and to
develop a shared consciousness around a particular issue, the practice of
dialogue is perhaps one of the best means of understanding what is
implicit without going through the (probably wasted) effort of making it
explicit. I don't have much experience with it, but it seems like a great
tool for honoring what belongs to the implicit realm of knowledge and yet
dealing with it in a way that informs what is in the explicit realm.

Mike closed with this comment:

>If they weren't taking on the whole thing and making themselves right, they'd
>be more interesting and get into less trouble for sloppy distinctions.

I've had the same thought about philosophers, theologians and parents.
Heh - I spose my kids do, too. There's a useful learning here

I'd like to close by echoing Carol Anne Ogdin's comment that Mike better
not start lurking now.

David E. Birren                              Phone:    (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources         Fax:      (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget                Internet: birred@dnr.state.wi.us
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--W. Edwards Deming