3 Main Types of Knowledge Sharing Within an Organization

Discover the three most popular types of organizational knowledge & how to share critical information in a workplace.

June 12, 2023
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Imagine a world where every employee possesses the key to valuable insights, innovative ideas, and enhanced productivity. Contrary to the notion that knowledge is best kept under lock and key, organizations are discovering that sharing knowledge is a key ingredient in the secret sauce to success. According to Greenbook, 80% of success factors for innovation are insights-related, and as MarketLogic puts it, “behind every good decision, there's an insight.” 

By breaking down silos, encouraging collaboration, and promoting a company culture of continuous learning, organizations can tap into a vast reservoir of collective wisdom.

Organizational knowledge sharing is not merely about passing information from one person to another; it is a catalyst that propels employees to achieve better results, enables customers to make the most of your product or service, and fosters overall organizational growth.

In this article, we delve into the three main types of knowledge sharing within an organization, but first a closer look at the necessity of becoming a knowledge sharing organization.

Why Is Knowledge Sharing Important In An Organization?

Embracing knowledge sharing not only enhances organizational performance but also fosters a sense of engagement and empowerment among employees. As organizations continue to navigate complex business landscapes, prioritizing knowledge sharing will undoubtedly become a key differentiator for sustained growth and success. 

One of the most powerful benefits of knowledge sharing is collective intelligence. 

Collective intelligence refers to the combined knowledge, insights, and expertise of individuals within an organization working together to solve problems, make decisions, and generate innovative ideas. It leverages the power of collaboration and information exchange, allowing individuals to build upon each other's ideas, challenge assumptions, and synthesize different perspectives. Thus, it is one of the most powerful things that knowledge sharing creates.

Other benefits of knowledge sharing in organizations include:

  1. Improved problem-solving

Knowledge sharing enables organizations to tackle challenges more effectively, as the collective intelligence it creates will help in identifying and addressing organizational issues. A challenge remains a one-person (or one-team) problem until it is shared with the rest of the team (or company). 

By leveraging the expertise and insights of team members, organizations can develop comprehensive solutions and make informed decisions that can be recorded for future decision-making, ultimately improving overall performance

  1. Support for growth and innovation

When employees freely share their ideas, expertise, and lessons learned, it sparks creativity and enables the development of innovative solutions. With a collaborative environment that encourages knowledge sharing, organizations can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce, leading to breakthrough ideas, improved products/services, and a more competitive advantage and edge in the market.

  1. Cost-effective operations

Knowledge sharing can lead to significant cost savings and enhanced operational efficiency. When employees share best practices, process improvements, and lessons from past projects, it minimizes redundancy, avoids costly mistakes, and optimizes resource utilization. 

Through shared knowledge management processes, organizations can streamline workflows, eliminate inefficiencies, and increase productivity, ultimately maximizing their bottom line.

  1. Adjustment to fast-changing markets

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, organizations need to adapt quickly to stay ahead. Knowledge sharing enables organizations to stay abreast of market trends, emerging technologies, and changing customer needs. 

By sharing market insights, competitive intelligence, and customer feedback, organizations can respond more effectively to market shifts, identify new opportunities, and make informed strategic decisions.

  1. Enhanced employee relations

Knowledge sharing provides an avenue for new employees to give their own opinions/ideas. There is also the opportunity to learn from older employees who have years of experience within and outside the organization. This promotes knowledge sharing and helps create and maintain a sort of connection between all employees, both old and new.

What Factors Influence Knowledge Sharing In An Organization?

Unfortunately, knowledge sharing doesn't happen automatically; it requires a supportive environment and the right set of influencing factors. Here, we explore some key factors that influence knowledge sharing in an organization and how you can leverage them to foster a culture of collaboration and continuous learning:

  1. Organizational culture

The organizational culture plays a fundamental role in shaping knowledge sharing practices. When leaders and managers emphasize the importance of sharing knowledge and creating a culture that values collaboration, employees feel encouraged to exchange ideas and insights.

Encouraging open communication, recognizing and rewarding knowledge sharing efforts, and fostering a safe environment where mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities all contribute to an effective knowledge-sharing culture.

  1. Leadership and management support

Leadership support is crucial in driving knowledge sharing initiatives. When managers promote and engage ideas for knowledge sharing activities, it sets a positive example for others to follow. Leaders can allocate resources, provide training, and establish communication channels that facilitate the sharing of knowledge. 

By integrating knowledge sharing goals into performance evaluations and recognizing employees who actively contribute and encourage knowledge sharing, leaders can demonstrate the organization's commitment to fostering a knowledge-sharing culture.

  1. Technology and infrastructure

Having the right technology infrastructure in place greatly facilitates knowledge sharing. Robust intranets, collaborative platforms, and other knowledge management tools and systems enable employees to easily store, access, and share information.

Intuitive search functionalities, document version control, and user-friendly interfaces enhance knowledge discoverability and encourage participation. Embracing tools like project management software, video conferencing platforms, and internal social networks also foster seamless communication and collaboration across teams and departments.

  1. Communication channels

In How to Overcome The Challenges Of Virtual Teams, poor communication is highlighted as the biggest challenge to managing a virtual project team. 

As communication is inarguably a key component of knowledge sharing, it's clear that knowledge sharing in the workplace is as important to remote work as it is to office work. While email still serves as a primary mode of communication, organizations should explore other platforms that encourage real-time interactions and enable quick sharing of information.

Chat-based applications, discussion forums, and virtual collaboration spaces create spontaneous knowledge exchange, brainstorming, and problem-solving opportunities. Organizations can cater to different preferences and facilitate effective knowledge sharing among employees by embracing multiple communication channels.

  1. Training and development programs

Investing in employee training and development programs promotes a learning culture and enhances knowledge sharing. 

By providing opportunities for skill-building, workshops, and cross-functional training, organizations empower employees to expand their knowledge and share their expertise with others. Mentoring programs and communities of practice also create platforms for employees to seek guidance, share experiences, and exchange best practices, fostering a sense of belonging and continuous learning.

What Are The Three Main Types of Organizational Knowledge? What kind of knowledge is best shared through collaboration?

Now that we know the benefits and influencing factors of organizational knowledge sharing, it's time to understand how to implement the strategies and best practices for knowledge sharing for organizations. To do this, the organization must leverage 3 main methods of sharing and transferring knowledge within an organization, based on the 3 main types of knowledge.

The three major types of organizational knowledge are:

  1. Explicit Knowledge
  2. Implicit Knowledge
  3. Tacit Knowledge

1. Explicit knowledge

In the realm of organizational knowledge sharing, explicit knowledge takes center stage. This type of knowledge refers to information that is straightforward, well-documented, and easily understood by team leaders and members.

Explicit knowledge plays a crucial role in various aspects of an organization, particularly when onboarding new employees and providing them with the necessary understanding of processes and procedures.

Explicit knowledge comprises basic information that is readily documented and shared. Unlike implicit or tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge requires no further explanation or interpretation.

Examples of explicit knowledge are:

  • Code of conduct
  • User guide
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Operations manual
  • Consumers’ feedback

Methods of Sharing Explicit Knowledge

To facilitate the sharing of explicit knowledge, organizations can employ various techniques and tools. Here are some effective methods:

  • Manuals: Creating comprehensive manuals that outline procedures, guidelines, and best practices provides employees with a reference point for executing tasks accurately.
  • Memos: Internal memos serve as brief, concise communication tools to share important explicit knowledge updates, changes, or reminders with the entire team.
  • Databases: Storing explicit knowledge in organized databases allows team members to access information quickly and efficiently.
  • Videos: Visual mediums such as instructional videos can effectively convey explicit knowledge in an engaging and memorably.
  • Books: In some cases, organizations may choose to publish books or guides that compile explicit knowledge, offering employees comprehensive resources for reference and learning.
  • Reports and Documents: Written reports and documents, such as research findings, whitepapers, and case studies, provide valuable explicit knowledge that can be shared with relevant team members or departments.

2. Implicit knowledge

Within organizations, implicit knowledge represents a more intricate aspect of knowledge sharing. It is derived from real-life experiences and the practical application of explicit knowledge. 

Implicit knowledge provides a deeper understanding of why and how certain processes work. 

While it can be challenging to document due to its reliance on personal experiences, implicit knowledge is not impossible to share. Implicit knowledge is developed through hands-on experiences and examples, allowing individuals to develop their own personalized approaches to tasks and processes. 

It differs from team to team as each may have its own unique methods based on their collective experiences.

Methods of Sharing Implicit Knowledge

To encourage employees to foster the sharing of implicit knowledge, organizations can employ the following strategies:

  • Peer learning and shadowing programs: Peer learning and shadowing programs enable individuals with higher levels of expertise to mentor and teach those with less experience, facilitating knowledge transfer and skill development.
  • Creating a learning and sharing culture: This entails establishing anenvironment where employees are encouraged to share their experiences, insights, and lessons learned.

3. Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge represents the culmination of explicit and implicit knowledge, and reflects an individual's personal experiences and wisdom gained over time. 

It encompasses the deep insights and wisdom individuals accumulate through their personal experiences, often acquired prior to joining a specific organization. While explicit knowledge provides step-by-step information for completing tasks and implicit knowledge stems from practical application. This makes tacit knowledge more difficult to explain and share. 

Methods Of Sharing Tacit Knowledge

While documenting tacit knowledge presents its unique challenges, there are methods to capture and transfer it effectively:

  • Transforming tacit into explicit knowledge: This can be achieved through various mediums, such as writing a book or creating instructional materials that provide instructions or guidelines based on personal experiences. Videos can also be a valuable tool for sharing tacit knowledge, allowing individuals to discuss and demonstrate specific tasks or processes.
  • Mentoring and apprenticeship programs: By pairing seasoned professionals with those eager to learn, organizations can facilitate the transfer of tacit knowledge through hands-on guidance, observation, and direct interaction.

Other Types of Knowledge In An Organization

  • Declarative knowledge: knowledge based on statistical information and facts.
  • Procedural knowledge: knowledge focusing on how things operate.
  • A priori knowledge: knowledge gained before coming into the organization, includes logical reasoning and one's ability to think abstractly.
  • A posteriori knowledge: knowledge gained after working in an organization.

Maximize Shared Knowledge With Assembly

Sharing knowledge in organizations is a powerful driver of organizational growth and innovation. And every organization has three key kinds of knowledge: explicit (clear, written rules), implicit (learned from hands-on experience), and tacit (personal wisdom and insights). Understanding these knowledge types and how to share them helps everyone make better decisions, encourages new ideas, and makes work more efficient. Assembly can facilitate this too.

Assembly simplifies this knowledge sharing process by providing a platform that helps your employees to share ideas and store info, learn, and give feedback on mentorship too. Plus, it helps everyone work together better and feel more involved and valued by giving rewards for good knowledge sharing practices. With Assembly, every piece of knowledge contributes to your journey to success. Claim your demo here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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