Tactical Knowledge

A Knowledge Management Concept
May 2010
Jeff Elpern


The SQI focus on the Client Interface includes the capture of innovation, or Tactical Knowledge, that is created while solving client requirements. David Snowden, of IBM's Knowledge Management Institute, states it this way, “We don't know what we know until someone asks us. The most valuable stuff we know becomes clear as a result of demand.”

The process of interaction with the client produces Tactical Knowledge because they add new Use Case, interactions,interfaces to other technology, prospectives on product usage, etc. The real world is always richer than the product planning view of the world. This is not a failure of the organization just a fact of life.

So how does Tactical Knowledge fit within the general concept of knowledge? The Quality Corner published a great article title “Organizational Improvement Thought a Knowledge Management Approach”(1) The article describes knowledge as follows:

“Knowledge is evidenced in an organization's processes, policies, products and services. It is contextual, ranging in form from explicit (codified) to tactical (know-how). Explicit knowledge can be described as information derived from work products, learning and/or reusable technologies. Explicit knowledge can be described as information derived from work products, learning and/or reusable technologies. Tactical knowledge includes techniques for integrating technologies, experiences and relationships.

The effective management and appropriate application of knowledge can impact the growth of an organization positively; however, these forms of "intellectual capital" often go unrecognized as institutional assets.”


Figure 1: Tactical Knowledge

Tactical Knowledge is created during the process of crafting a solution to a complex or unique client requirement. This usually involves a senior staff member who is a product expert with extensive industry experience. The expert finds a way to combine product features with external resources in a way that has not been done before. The result is a new solution – Tactical knowledge – that did not exist prior to the client demand.

From Specific to General

While the need to invest in staff capable of creating Tactical Knowledge – highly skilled support, Field Application Engineers, Systems Engineers and Professional Services – is a given if Economic Quality is to be archived, it is critical to a firms profitability that complex requirements are solved only once.

Here is the issue. In some cases Tactical Knowledge is created for a specific, one time client requirement.

Figure 1: Contributed Knowledge

In others Tactical Knowledge is created for the first instance observed by the firm of a more general market requirement. To be successful it is critical that the second instance of the general requirement has access to the Tactical Knowledge created in the first. And the by the third occurrence of the requirement that the solution is now Explicit Knowledge within the firm.

This process of transforming Tactical Knowledge into Explicit Knowledge is generally referred to as Knowledge Management (KM). And, KM is a central part of SQI's Client Interface Environment which drives the creation of Knowledge Capital. See Contributed Knowledge for the specifics of this process.


  1. Quality Corner – Fall 1998,
    New Jersey University Health Sciences,

  2. Consortium for Service Innovation

  3. Wikipedia description of Tacit Knowledge

  4. Wikipedia description of Knowledge Management

  5. Tacit versus Explicit Knowledge from Hypertext versus Knowledge Management

Glossary/TacticalKnowledge (last edited 2015-03-06 18:11:27 by localhost)