The field of knowledge management is concerned with making it easier for insights and experiences to be shared within organizations. Despite the importance of knowledge management in today’s information-centric economy, there is a huge amount of latent knowledge that still goes untapped within most organizations. However, this latent knowledge has the potential to drive innovation and to greatly improve information access within the organization. And, importantly, the ability to realize this potential is readily available.
What is Latent Knowledge?
So what exactly do I mean by latent knowledge? The field of knowledge management generally differentiates between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is easy to record and make available to others who can then learn from it. Tacit knowledge, however, is harder to pin down and is the sort of know-how that is better transferred directly from person to person, for example through apprenticeships. More recently, knowledge management experts have also started to talk about latent knowledge. Latent knowledge can be thought of as the building blocks of knowledge creation – it may not have coalesced yet into tacit or explicit knowledge, but individuals possess elements of it. And through group collaboration this latent knowledge can be surfaced to produce new ideas and innovations; aka, knowledge creation.