I’m at Starbucks. Today is the first day for “employee X.” He seems like a nice guy and even appears to have some Barrista experience. But, he still has the “I’m new stiff look” about him. The other three Barristas are far more relaxed and flow around the space with ease. His movements are awkward and stiff.

The knowledge isn’t in his bones.

Whenever a person finds him or herself in a new space, learning new information, there is a time of familiarizing. Psychologists and organizational gurus call this process, tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that is so familiar to me that it’s in my bones. I no longer have to think about it, work hard to retrieve it, or struggle to perform the actions related to it. I just get it.

Here’s the deal: The star employees of today and tomorrow are those who can quickly get knowledge (knowledge of the company, or the project, or the team, or the whatever) into their bones. The faster the knowledge becomes tacit, the more valuable the person. Of course, some knowledge takes time to transfer. Value is added, however, the faster the knowledge can safely and fully be inculcated.

So, the screaming $64,000 question is: What qualities help a person “get” knowledge quickly and keep it?


More to come.