Sunday, May 23, 2010

Intuition and Knowledge

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.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Different Communication Languages

There was an interesting article in the New York Times a few weeks ago, that discussed the findings of some research studies and the amount of time that young people spend using electronic devices to communicate with their friends and family. Increasingly, the use of technology is replacing face-to-face contact with other human beings.

The concern of psychologists is that individuals that primarily use electronic communication are not learning basic face-to-face human contact skills. They are unable to see facial expressions and body language and must rely wholly on the written word. Are these individuals missing out on developing empathy, listening skills and the ability to read non-verbal social cues?

Experts tell us that as much as 70% of communication is non-verbal, what happens when what individuals have primarily experienced is written communication such as abbreviated snatches of cell phone texts and instant messages. What happens when those individuals that have been immersed in electronic communication intersect in the workplace with individuals whose primary form of communication has been face-to-face?

How successful can knowledge transfer be with individuals that prefer such different communication languages?

The answer is that both sides have to give a little in their preferred communication methods. The digital natives while possessing excellent technology skills may have underdeveloped social skills.

New York Times Article - Antisocial Networking