Knowledge Wheel

This is based on a much more simplified version from a Patrick Lambe video on how to conduct a knowledge audit. This wheel also owes a lot to David Snowden’s ASHEN framework but the language has been simplified. I recommend this video highly. My version here grew out of my last project in the MSc programme at HKPolyU. I am now finished! At least I hope so, I need to see what the final marks are in a few weeks time. Assuming successful completion, this has made me reflect on what I’ve learned and this sums a lot of it up. I have a much better idea on what is explicit and tacit knowledge. Also, I understand much better the tension between trying to ‘manage’ all the different kinds of explicit and tacit knowledge. There will always need to be choice on where to put knowledge management effort and it depends on the organization’s goals, resources and abilities. The explicit / tacit distinction is fluid much of the time which is what I’m trying to show with the blurry lines and spaces. Methods and Relationships as well as Skill and Experience are two sides of the same coin. Explicit may not always be as concrete as a document but it could become a document, webpage, recorded talk very easily. Tacit may not be as ephemeral as ideas, thoughts or hunches since many people have very good tools to help them describe and share them with others. The knowledge wheel gives a pretty bumpy ride.

I’ve decided to update the Knowledge Wheel in 2013. The wheel is showing the 6-facets of knowledge. The top three are more concrete, what knowledge managers like to call explicit, and these are either actual knowledge artifacts (from Snowden) or could be easily made into documents, visual images or audio recordings. Explicit-like knowledge is where most knowledge management programmes spend time, effort and resources. The bottom three are less concrete, what knowledge managers like to call tacit, and these are difficult to quantify and make visible. This is the knowledge that most people perceive as being the most valuable. This value may be difficult to describe but there is a gut feeling that this is what counts. Knowledge management programmes don’t spend enough time nurturing these three sectors of the knowledge wheel. Facilitation methods that bring people together to explore different perspectives are helpful.

Inspired by Dave Snowden and Patrick Lambe

Knowledge Wheel – Updated



  1. Baoman said

    Patrick Lambe noted this in his blog, Green Chameleon.

  2. Naguib said

    Hi Bill,
    Good one. Just wondering, if it is appropriate to consider skill as ‘Explicit’ knowledge. I thought Skill is purely tacit, which cannot be codified. What we can codify is the how to ( guidelines, SoPs, reciepe).

    • Baoman said

      The knowledge wheel is showing how these 6 types of knowledge intermingle with each other. The 3 on top are more ‘explicit-like’ and the 3 on bottom are more ‘tacit-like’. I think the explicit/tacit distinction is unnecessary but it is so pervasive in KM literature that I believe it cannot be ignored. Skill can be learned so it is more explicit-like and when something has been mastered over a period of time we call it Experience which is more tacit-like. Methods are known and followed and are more explicit-like but to make them pervasive in a group they need to be tied to Relationships and are more properly described as tacit-like. Written documents are the most explicit-like and pure ability is the most tacit-like which is why they share the least common point of intersection.

  3. […] I’ve been working on this interpretation of the Cynefin (kun-ev’in) sense-making and decision-making framework for months. This combines 4 sources; Cynthia Kurtz and Dave Snowden (2003), Dave Snowden and Mary Boone (2007), Dave Snowden blogging (2007) and Joachim Sturmberg and Carmel Martin (2008). See here for some of the Snowden references. I started this after I took the Cognitive Edge practitioners course in Sept. 2009. I’ve kept a copy of the framework taped into the cover of my notebook and I have kept adding and deleting to it. At the ICKM 2009 conference I heard Louisa Lam from the HK Chinese University library talk about her research on sense-making from interviews with doctors and nurses in Hong Kong public and private hospitals. She kindly gave me her presentation and the reference to Sturmberg & Martin’s excellent paper. This is also related to my earlier post on Patrick Lambe’s ‘Knowledge Wheel’ here. […]

  4. Baoman said

    I found this reference to the Bumpy Knowledge Wheel –

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