Knowledge Transfer

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Knowledge Transfer
A Case Study in Transferring Knowledge and Insight
The study example involves a large research and development organization with a total workforce of over 6,000 and a technical human resource of 2,533 scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technical personnel.  120 have a Ph.D., 231 have a technical MS, and 1,087 have a technical BS-BA.  They have published 16 technical articles, been awarded 41 distinguished awards, granted 24 patents, and another 38 applied for.  Approximately thirty percent of the organization’s workforce was eligible to retire (and would) within the next five years.  This retirement would cut deep across managers, directors, and vice presidents, particularly within the technical job families.
The challenge was “How does the organization gather, preserve, and share this vast reservoir of accumulated knowledge and insight?”
The case participants.  Participants: 143 contributors from 7 business units.  Levels: managers, directors, and business unit leaders.
The key steps in implementing the knowledge transfer initiative were to
A. Identify the critical knowledge themes essential to the organization's future.
B. Determine the potential human sources of this knowledge within the organization.
C. Gather the individual narrative inputs.
D. Analyze and aggregate the collective narratives.
E. Develop the subject-matter courseware and learning objects.
F. Deploy the best-practices courses in the organization.
A. Identify the Critical Knowledge Themes Essential to the Organization’s Future
The findings.  Through online surveys and personal interviews fourteen critical knowledge themes essential to the organization's future were identified. The fourteen (14) identified critical knowledge themes were (in rank order) managing ...
1. people 
2. crises 
3. priorities 
4. workload 
5. customers
6. culture 
7. politics 
8. distractions 
9. work/life balance 
10. personal growth
11. resources 
12. skills, competencies development
13. problem solving 
14. decision analysis
At first glance there may seem to be some themes that are obviously missing, such as change, employee engagement, risk and complexity, and others.  However, for this organization they were not viewed as critical or they were part of an identified theme.  For example, change was viewed as a mere shift in priorities which was an everyday, ongoing condition in this organization’s environment. 
Choose the Theme for Your Knowledge Transfer Initiative.

  • Identifying the key knowledge themes important to success (similar to above example).
  • Measuring the key performance themes needed for success.
  • Focusing on the key business themes required for success.

B. Determine the potential human sources of this knowledge within the organization.
In this case, it was important that the knowledge transfer be "situational knowledge" (the how-to) surrounding specific workplace experiences.
The knowledge important to the study was determined to be at the vice president, manager, and director levels.
An online survey was used to determine priorities across a large population and cross-section of employees.
C. Gather the individual narrative inputs. (Example: Crises Management)
Using a process that facilitates information filtering and mapping by neutralizing the interference of social, cognitive, and organizational influences, the participants provided input in the form of stories related to crisis and emergency management using a RGi software toolset encompassing the following context.
What was the situation?
Who were the players?
What problems needed to be solved?
What decisions were made?
What were the key actions steps taken?
What were the solutions?
What worked?
What tended not to work?
What were the key success factors?
What were the leadership qualities?
What were the lessons learned?
D. Analyze and aggregate the collective narratives.
When the stories were completed, the narratives were aggregated and mapped according to their unique content.  Mapping and clustering the content provided the ability to identify the key practices, processes, and actions for crisis and emergency management in the organization, such as (partial)
Key Action Steps to Take During Crisis
How do we respond to an emergency?
What are the challenges and priorities?
What actions should we take first?
How do we organize the crisis team?
How do we maintain operational productivity?
How do we return to normal operations?
Key Success Factors
Informed spokesperson  
Speed and clarity of response
A workable plan with accountability 
Adequate resources
Caring and compassionate message
Proactive communications
Key Leadership Qualities
Key Things That Worked
Return to normalcy
Lessons learned
Things That Tended Not to Work
Ignoring it thinking it will go away.
Looking to someone else to take charge and manage it.
Trying to wing it.
Hesitating bringing in outside professional help.
Misreading the threats and risks.
Future Requirements
Crisis Response Plan
Business Continuity Plan
Training at all levels
A one-call mobilization number
E. Develop the subject-matter courseware and learning objects.
The learning interventions were developed based on principles of adult learning theory and according to a performance-based Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model.  Instructional design and delivery strategies were developed to include not only traditional modalities but ancillary techniques as well.
By applying a systemic approach the client company was able to integrate processes mapped to the desired skills, knowledge, and attributes to create consistency across all training and development efforts, thus enabling the client organization to achieve higher return on the time and dollars invested in its human resources. 
This systemic approach promoted greater effectiveness and efficiency by ensuring that all basic curriculum requirements for the target audience were aligned with a core set of attributes and competencies that permeate the organization and define, at a fundamental level, the client organization’s employees’ core attributes and competencies, and that human resource processes align around one set of standard criteria to build and sustain an integrated system to support future development. 
F. Deploy the best-practices courses in the organization.
Delivering the training as best practices provided a platform to present a model of the desired behaviors, skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to exhibit the attributes and competencies desired by the client.  This served as a roadmap to identify current and future curriculum and development activities.  It also served as a method for

  • Validating the curriculum learning areas
  • Developing clusters of desired attributes and competencies
  • Evaluating the relationship to job function
  • Evaluating the relationship to job performance
  • Defining further development opportunities

The results and outcomes.
Critical knowledge is preserved and shared
The storytellers have a pride in making a significant contribution
All original stories are preserved and made accessible across the organization
The learner benefits from others’ actual experiences
The process begins to breakdown silos and stove pipes in the organization
Training focuses on best practices
The "New Narrative Age"
The emerging narrative age is not a mere extension of the information age, but rather a distinct apparition driven by the need to move from data as information to knowledge as business intelligence.
This new cultural phenomenon is virtually changing the organization's fundamental approach to training, learning, knowledge transfer, strategy, change, performance, and competitiveness. 
Conceptually, the "narrative age" recognizes the implicit value of knowledge (many times untapped knowledge) embedded within the body-organization.  The roadblock has been to access this knowledge, aggregate it into a cohesive order, and provide access to it as dynamic learning objects. 
Our new and innovative toolsets and process models provide the resources and capabilities to tap and unleash the vast reservoir of knowledge, skills, and abilities embedded in your organization.  The focus is on the four key components of building a narrative-based learning organization: how to (1) identify, (2) collect, (3) map, and (4) deliver learning. 
Using narrative (storytelling) as a key learning platform is a powerful way to unlock virtual storehouses of intelligence. Why is storytelling so powerful?  Because it is facilitated by communicating personal experiences told in everyday, plainspoken discourse.
Learning and Development Center’s toolset enables the identification of critical knowledge themes essential to the organization's future.  This Web-based tool is used to collect and assess inputs in new ways of transferring knowledge by expressing experiences through storytelling.
Now you can know what’s important to your organization’s future.  Without knowing, you’re putting your organization at risk.
We can provide the tools and processes you need for identifying and implementing best practices around knowledge, performance, as well as helping you identify the key business themes in your organization.  Or, we can do it all for you on a turnkey basis.  Either way, it’s a choice you need to make to position your organization for the future.  
First, we have a total package for doing it all yourself, doing most but needing some help from us, or outsourcing it completely.  Costs vary according to the scope of the client’s project.  You may need

  • RGi advice, counsel, and direction for defining and framing the initiative.
  • RGi online survey tool for determining and prioritizing the respondent inputs.
  • RGi online capability for gathering and preserving individual participant stories.
  • RGi support for interpreting the survey responses and developing a plan to drive initiative
  • RGi guidance for designing and developing the best practices training materials.
  • RGi support for conducting pilot, making adjustments, publishing final product.

Click here to schedule a quick online interactive demo.
The Ryan Group, Inc.
Wayne Davis  

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