By Prof. Vicente Falconi, FALCONI’s Founding Partner
“Tell me and I will forget.
Show me and I will remember.
Involve me and I will understand”.
Confucius (551-479 BC)
During a certain moment in my life (1975-1981), I worked at Cia. Aços Especiais Itabira. At that time, the company used MBO (Management by Objectives), which was a very modern goal-based work conception (it was created by Peter Drucker and taken to Japan in 1970). It was the system that came before Management by the Guidelines, which was created in Japan to compensate the weak points in the MBO. I remember that one of the goals of the HR Director was “to provide a certain number of trainings for the management people”. It was training after training…
I was too young in management, but one thing already bothered me: it was clear that most part of that training was naïve. After the courses, we would go back to work and things would remain exactly as they were before. Nothing would change. Distrust reached a point that in order to take the company executives or technicians to a training, direct intervention of the HR Director or the President was needed. It seems that it was a generalized phenomenon because until now I see a certain resistance to trainings inside the companies.
Today, more experienced in management issues, I see that we lacked awareness on the differences between explicit and tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is the one that can be expressed in words and/or numbers and that can be easily communicated to others. As soon as people learn, they may or may not have the initiative to assume the risk of applying that knowledge. It will depend on the type of person, their personal limitations, the limitations of the company, or the inherited difficulties of the process in which that knowledge will be used. My life experience has shown me that the inertia in applying explicit knowledge into practice is huge. The separation between “theoretical” and “practical” is an abyss. That is where the consultant from FALCONI Consultants for Results gets into action. We see ourselves as people who take the customer by the hand and “work it out together”, providing safety and jointly assuming the responsibility for the results, in a way to break that inertia and to make things happen in the right direction. FALCONI has occupied this market niche in a competent and sensitive way and we have grown vigorously in this direction and have formed, in recent years, the largest team of consultants with this experience in Latin America.
Tacit Knowledge is personal and difficult to be formalized or expressed in the form of words or numbers and therefore virtually impossible to be communicated to others. The origin of this knowledge is experience and action and it relies heavily on each one’s ideals, values and emotions. I remember in 1993 when we had one of our huge Quality Deployment Seminars at the Transamerica Hotel, in São Paulo. That year, Mr. Takahashi, member of the Toyota Board in Japan was our keynote speaker. He insisted in bringing a young Toyota employee who had been to all events, including our solemn lunch, who did not say anything. Today I understand that we sponsored the formation of a future Toyota executive in Japan. That young man was learning, in practice, through his senses, about how a company Director should act in an event like that. Tacit knowledge may be transmitted by examples, without words, as we do every day, in our homes, with our kids.
The Consultant at FALCONI acquires and transmits tacit knowledge the whole time during his work at the companies, even without realizing it. We understand that our customers are our students and our professors at the same time. We teach and learn. Teaching and learning is one of our values.
In summary: Explicit knowledge is the description of how to ride a bike, the appropriate tire pressure, attention on the streets, traffic laws, where the breaks are located, etc. Tacit knowledge is riding the bike, falling, getting up, and through the senses, learning.
The “Research Center” in Management Sciences is the interior of the companies! We have today at FALCONI many companies that compose our “Research Center” where we teach and learn. We see our customers as a great learning and growth opportunity for each one of us. We are reading, studying, teaching, and learning all the time so then we can increase our Explicit Knowledge asset. However, we only get to be real authorities in our profession through the practice with our customers. Through the acquisition of Tacit Knowledge in everyday life and through the practice of Explicit Knowledge, we create new knowledge and strive to make it explicit through new books, publications, courses, consulting, etc. This is how we create a truly revolutionary group of people in business management issues inside FALCONI. People who write and teach what they know how to do.
I already see this happening and I feel deeply joyful and hopeful. We are building a fantastic machine for Brazil. The future will show it.
Published on April 25, 2016, on LinkedIn Pulse.