Knowledge patterns

Below is my illustration of Ikujiro Nonaka’s four knowledge creation patterns in “The Knowledge-Creating Company“.

Mr Nonaka’s four knowledge patterns are insightful and illustrate nicely the interplay between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. The article is well worth reading, but here’s the quick summary:

  1. Tacit to tacit knowledge (observe): One person through observation, imitation, and practice gains the skills of another person, e.g., presentation skills
  2. Tacit to explicit knowledge (articulate): One person articulates her tacit knowledge through verbal and/or written form. This allows others to gain knowledge through listening or reading, but it also aids the communicator to gain greater awareness of their own knowledge. Examples include software design documentation or mentoring discussions.
  3. Explicit to explicit knowledge (organise): The act of organising explicit knowledge to allow others to find and combine the available knowledge records, e.g., folder structures, libraries, or knowledge management systems
  4. Explicit to tacit knowledge (apply): The act of taking explicit knowledge and internalising it as tacit knowledge, e.g., software engineer read the design documentation and attempts to enhance the software.

Note how the four patterns are applicable to themselves, as there is both tacit and explicit knowledge required for you to be able to perform the above patterns