In the 1950’s Polanyi proposed the knowledge dichotomy of explicit and tacit knowledge. Polanyi defined tacit knowledge as non-verbalizable, intuitive, and unarticulated. Tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize; it is deeply rooted in an individuals’ actions and experiences as well as in the ideals, values, or emotions that they embrace. Explicit knowledge is codified and easily transferable in systematic methods, such as rules and procedures.
Research has shown that experts often arrive at problem diagnoses and solutions rapidly and intuitively without being able to report how they attained the result. Intuition is not independent of analysis but rather the two processes are complementary. Diagnosing the problems of an organization may require much conscious deliberation. However, the leader that relies on tacit knowledge is able to consciously take considerable leaps in the process of building the bridge from premises to conclusions. A less experienced individual having to rely on explicit knowledge may arrive at the same conclusions as the more experienced leader, but the expert will be able to take “giant intuitive steps in reasoning, as compared with the tiny steps of the novice.