Most of us working on knowledge management say that KM is 80% culture and process and only 20% technology. That is true, but sometimes the technology can be a challenge.

I was looking through some of my files and came across a grid I developed a while back. Click here for grid. It illustrates, for common types of explicit (written) and tacit (unwritten) knowledge, the possible computer file formats and computer storage locations. I have indicated primary and secondary file types and locations using a solid and empty block. The many file types and locations illustrate the potential challenges of gathering knowledge artifacts into a single system. Perhaps the complexity of this grid explains what appears to be a growing interest in “federated search,” that is, the ability to search multiple repositories of information simultaneously.

Viewing the grid also helps explain the challenges of dealing with tacit know-how. The relative sparseness of the lower half of the grid illustrates that tacit data, unlike the explicit, cannot merely be copied or searched. It often has to be created from scratch.

Apologies for not including the grid in the post itself. I created it as a Word table and my blog software seems not to like the HTML code Word saves. For the same reason, the formatting is not perfect, but I think the point is nonetheless clear. RF