Methodological approach

Observation and accumulation of knowledge for innovation


In the course of this better mastery of internal information, it was decided that a process of accumulating knowledge through the MASK method (Modeling, Analysis and Structuring of Knowledge) would be implemented. This method is based on previous work [ERM 93] and was first applied at CEA (Center for Atomic Energy, France). According to Ermine, “MASK is a method based on modeling knowledge, which responds to the characteristics of this kind of method and which allows for compensation of the limits of methods based on transcription”. The MASK system is made up of a set of knowledge in six fundamental perspectives, namely: (1) fundamental knowledge, (2) activities, (3) historic context, (4) know-how, (5) concepts, (6) history of solutions and their justification (see, for example, Figure 7.2).

The main difficulty of implementing this strategy through the MASK method lay in the fact that the field of information and KO and its management was then non-existent within the IJL. MASK required strong interaction with experts in the target structure to transform their tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, the goal being to create the Book of Knowledge, a collection assembling all knowledge of the structure to be promoted.

Tacit knowledge is a notion created by the Hungarian philosopher M. Polanyi in the mid-1960s [POL 09]. Keeping in mind that not all knowledge can be expressed solely through texts, his adage, “we can know more than we can tell”, is very widespread, underlying the idea that tacit knowledge is difficult to express in words or by other means of communication due to its subjectivity and its personal character. The notion was then taken back up in the domain of international innovation [GIL 10a, GIL 10b] in a more practical logical sequence for organizations [NON 95] going from tacit to implicit knowledge in the framework of intra-company group exchanges.

MASK method structuring (source

Figure 7.2. MASK method structuring (source:

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