Source: Why Tacit Knowledge is More Important Than Deliberate Practice | Commonplace Blog, by Cedric Chin
Tacit knowledge is knowledge that cannot be captured through words alone. … tacit knowledge instruction happens through things like imitation, emulation, and apprenticeship. You learn by copying what the master does, blindly, until you internalise the principles behind the actions.
If you are a knowledge worker, tacit knowledge is a lot more important to the development of your field of expertise than you might think.
I don’t mean to say that Hieu or the senior software engineer couldn’t explain their judgment, or that they couldn’t make explicit the principles they used to evaluate the tradeoffs between a dozen or so variables: they could. My point is that their explanations would not lead me to the same ability that they had.
Why is this the case? Well, take a look at the conversation again. When I pushed these people on their judgments, they would try to explain in terms of principles or heuristics. But the more I pushed, the more exceptions and caveats and potential gotchas I unearthed.
Could it — in principle — be possible to externalise tacit knowledge into a list of instructions? … The consensus answer to that question seems to be: “Yes, in principle it is possible to do so. In practice it is very difficult.” My take on this is that it is so difficult that we shouldn’t even bother