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Dealing with the Revolving Door: Why Knowledge Transfer is Vital to Corporate Success (Part One)

April 10, 2011
Updated August 26, 2014

Note: I’m kicking off a four-part series on knowledge transfer. I hope this series of posts is helpful to you in your work, whether it’s in the private, public or not-for-profit sectors.

Even when the economy tanks and private and public sector organizations give the heave-ho to people, maintaining corporate knowledge (or know-how) is a competitive asset. Or if you work in the public sector (as yours truly did for three decades), corporate knowledge is vital to how citizens are served.

The revolving door syndrome has been going on for years and will only accelerate as we Baby Boomers head for the exits in rapidly growing numbers over the next decade. Rather than wringing your hands, if you happen to be an executive or someone actually concerned with the imminent massive loss of what translates to millions of person-days of valuable corporate know-how, I’m providing in this series of posts some ways on how to effectively address this problem.

Knowledge transfer (KT) is not a cookie-cutter recipe, in which organizations merely replicate what their competitors are doing. The information I’m providing may be viewed as a framework with which to develop a customized corporate strategy on how to facilitate the sharing and flow of information, the generation of knowledge (yes, it’s different from information), and how to retain WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO THE ORGANIZATION’S MISSION. You certainly do not want to retain everything.

So here we go…

Different methods obviously need to be used to capture and transfer the knowledge that’s created in an organization. And this depends on the nature of the knowledge and to whom it benefits (or is directed). An organization should not rely on just one or two methods of knowledge transfer, but instead employ a variety of diverse, yet complementary approaches. Call it your KT toolbox.

Knowledge creation is not a linear process, but one that’s dynamic and involving both tacit and explicit knowledge. The former refers to the contextual knowledge that’s generated by people through their experiences. It resides primarily in people’s heads. The latter is knowledge that’s codified or documented, whether in manuals, reports, policy documents or on hard-disks or servers.

Of particular importance is understanding that knowledge is not the domain of subject matter experts. It’s a collective responsibility of everyone within an organization to share information and contribute to the formation of new knowledge, in turn enabling the fulfillment of its mission.

However, it’s not enough to trust that sharing alone is sufficient. The appropriate processes, which fit within the organization’s culture and business, need to be put in place to maximize information sharing and knowledge creation.

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
– Laurence J. Peter, of “The Peter Principle”

Next Post: Internal Team Transfer: After Action Reviews

Click here to download my complimentary e-book A Blueprint for Learning & Knowledge Creation: Staying Ahead of Your Competitors in a Turbulent World”.

Visit my e-Books, Resources and Services pages.

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