The COST of Knowledge

The COST of Knowledge

The COST of Knowledge

Knowledge comes in different forms in the workplace. On some level, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the workforce or with a specific employer. An intern might have more knowledge of a certain practice or network or platform than a CEO. We know this implicitly. This is why we hire them.

On another level, there are “buckets” of knowledge that every organization engages with on a daily basis that require time to develop. I call this set of buckets “The COST of Knowledge.”

  • C: Cultural Knowledge. This is the set of informal expectations, norms, mores, folkways, and customs that guide behavior in the workplace. Example: As a male, can you wear open-toed shoes to the office? Can females? In many industries, this is a non-issue. In others, it can be a double-standard. Knowing the difference requires an understanding of the specific workplace culture.
  • O: Organizational Knowledge. This is the awareness of policies, procedures, and formal rules that describe expectations of workplace behavior and performance. Example: I’m going out of town for a professional conference. Where do I find the reimbursement forms? The location of the forms is equally accessible for every employee. It has to be according to federal, state, or company policy. Knowing where there forms are requires a knowledge of how the organization works.
  • S: Social Knowledge. The set of relationships one has with other individuals or groups is social knowledge. It is the network of other people and other experts that can serve to orient an employee to a setting or a profession. It is your Rolodex. Example: Connecting like-minded individuals at a conference or via email or social platforms is social knowledge in action. You want to write a children’s book. I know someone at a publishing house. I introduce you to one another. That’s not possible without social knowledge.
  • T: Technical Knowledge. This is skills based. It regards the ability to perform or execute a specific task or function. Example: If you’re a web designer, you need to know some platforms, some Adobe, some HTML. As an employer, your designer’s success in this area is independent of who she knows socially.

These are important dimensions to be aware of as a new employee and as a mentor, supervisor, or manager. Regardless of your position, if you can approach your coworkers with this framework, you will see that everyone has value; that everyone has something to glean from someone else; and that overall organizational performance will improve if you create a culture of continuous learning.

Go forth. Learn something new today.


Originally published by me on LinkedIn, October 19, 2016.