where you speak to a few of the expert’s peers or direct reports
who all know the expert’s deep smarts.”
Leonard also advises clients to use what she calls a critical inci-dent
process, which, when there’s a time crunch, is an effective way
to understand how this employee excels at what he or she does,
whether that’s in managing difficult situations, creating new prod-ucts
or motivating a team.
“With the help of a facilitator, a group of interested and invested
people in the organization walks the expert through a carefully
selected set of situations or incidents and asks about each deci-sion
made along the way, what alternatives were considered and
so on,” she said. “It’s an efficient way to get insight into the expert’s
thought processes, skills and contacts.”
IS TECH A SUPPORT?
It’s tempting to reach for technology to help and there’s no
shortage of available software claiming to help with this process.
(Google “software for knowledge transfer” and you’ll find more
than 15 million results.) While it’s true that tech can help with
data collection, storage and sharing, it’s not likely to help its users
get at the really meaty parts of transferred knowledge.
“There is no proven magic bullet for using technology,” said
Trautman. “Knowledge bases, if well designed and maintained,
can be useful, but most knowledge transfer is still going to hap-pen
between one expert and one or more apprentices because
the information is too dynamic to write down in prose. In other
words, once a paragraph is written down, it is almost immediately
out of date.”
Learning plans – outlines of what knowledge needs to be trans-ferred
– should be stored and reused, so technology can help with
that step. But for the bigger picture, it may not be the best solution.
“When you talk to the people who are living this problem, they
will never say the solution is to write it down and put it into some
kind of technology that’s searchable like a knowledge base,” said
Trautman. “So don’t get lost thinking that’s the solution. It’s still a
A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH
Ultimately, effective knowledge transfer requires a solid under-standing
of an organization’s future needs and a clear-headed
analysis of its current capabilities.
“Don’t think like an HR person who is developing a pro-gram
to address knowledge transfer,” said Trautman. “Think
much more practically, like an engineer who is solving a prob-lem.
That approach will give you the kind of results that you can
really measure.” n
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HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ JUNE 2018 ❚ 19