How do we create knowledge?  That was the subject of two conversations I had recently with Knowledge Management experts. According to both, new knowledge happens when people get together.  Both are writing books.

Evidently knowledge creation is hot, which doesn’t surprise me.  First, I spoke with Nancy Dixon of Common Knowledge Associates. We talked about some of the practices leading knowledge management execs are using at companies such as Fluor, Schlumberger and others, to facilitate the creation of knowledge. Nancy facilitates learning events that involve stakeholders who are facing complex issues.


Next, I spoke with PhD candidate Lesley Crane at the University of Derby, in the UK. Her area of research, and her upcoming book, are focused on knowledge creation through discourse. She’d like to listen in on meetings to record, transcribe and analyze the communication patterns related to knowledge creation, so she can help businesses become more effective at knowledge creation through discourse. (Give her a shout if you’d like to participate in her study.)

So the idea with the intersection of people and knowledge creation is that when together, people share tacit knowledge and create new knowledge.

Both Lesley and Nancy are focused on in-the-moment creation of knowledge which happens when people share their tacit knowledge. If we extend “human interaction” to discourse that happens in email, chat, IM, voice records, and documents, where both tacit and explicit knowledge may be communicated, doesn’t that present unimaginable opportunities for the creation of new knowledge, if it can only be connected to the people who are thinking about the kinds of things contained in these forms of communication, when they are thinking about it?

That’s the Long Tail of Knowledge.  That is, the ability to connect people with highly specific information, related to their specific context, and through that “documented discourse,” to the people who created it—in the moment.

What benefits would your company reap, from enabling the Long Tail of Knowledge?