Because Most Can’t Do That Vulcan Mind Meld

Expert Mr. Spock and the Young Spock

Well heck yes! I’m aware that the mind meld thing is not actually occurring in this photo.  But the wise one is entrusting to the young one his deep smarts and legacy.

Wrapping up my Major Projects Knowledge Hub guest book choices for the month. Today I offer Critical Knowledge Transfer: Tools for Managing Your Company’s Deep Smarts.  

Ha!  See what I did there?  This week’s title builds directly from last week’s Deep Smarts, was also written by Leonard and Swap.  Keep that thread going.

The super sped-up scenes from the last episodes flash by now:  business mandates to explicitly transfer and retain deep expertise; newer thinking about best approaches in fostering a knowledge exchange and continuity culture; what are those deep smarts? Caught up?  Now back to today…

Dorothy Leonard, Walter Swap and Gavin Barton wrote THE book on knowledge transfer and – get excited – this is it!  How could I not bring it to you?

Leonard, et al. set out the basic challenge with these questions –“Why would you spend resources on the transfer? What exactly do you need to transfer? And who must be involved?  Why transfer knowledge? These questions can seem deceptively simple to managers. But these issues must be addressed with care before you will know which tools and techniques fit your particular situation.”

We’re not talking about building another knowledge base.  We’re not talking about another intranet.  We’re talking about soft-skill approaches to bring together  experts, nextperts and aspirationals in conversational, organic exchanges where know-how and why is surfaced and applied to solve complex challenges.

Critical Knowledge Transfer includes brief case overviews, papers and stories of approaches in diverse sectors and organizations. “ConocoPhillips 2012 MAKE Finalist”, Baker Hughes Integrated Operations, Monsanto, US Military to name a few.  Check out the “notes” section starting on page 201 for some clear and compelling references and examples of approaches.

Here’s a super visual that tells you more. Leonard, Dorothy. Critical Knowledge Transfer (p. 8). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

Liz McLean on Twitter @knowsaic  on LinkedIn

This Way to The New Edge in Knowledge

This book choice post first appeared on the Major Projects Knowledge Hub on September 11, 2019.  Liz will be posting book choices to the Major Projects Knowledge Hub throughout the month of September 2019.

Book Choice: The New Edge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management is Changing the Way We Do Business Carla O’Dell, Cindy Hubert. APQC 2011

Hello again on a September Wednesday.  Liz McLean here, inviting you to read about more about the cost of knowledge loss vs. the gains of knowledge assets continuity. Or, to say it more plainly, have you thought about the clear and compelling business reasons for mitigating loss of deep smarts? (See Liz’s book choice #1 from September 4 here) Are you ready for some clear and direct actions that you can implement in projects to ensure continuity and re-use of the know-how that makes it all go? Well, then!  Read on.

This book is high on my choice list because the data sources, research and case studies have the authoritative weight and industry standards of APQC.   Content is fresh, straightforward, easy to follow and rooted in the pragmatic business needs of major projects teams and stakeholders.

I’ve been immersing myself over the last 18 months in knowledge transfer and continuity approaches, practices and thought leaders, so that’s why I’ve highlighted this section for you.  Chapter 4’s “Portfolio Example: Retaining critical knowledge” is a fantastic entry point on these topics.  It addresses one of today’s most pervasive knowledge and business issues – knowledge loss, costs of that loss and slowed competitive momentum from the constant movement of employees from project to project.

APQC’s research data has shown (2011) that less than half of survey respondents have plans and activities in place to retain and transfer redeployed or retiring employees’ deep smarts. The content in this portfolio example details the best ways to build strategic business approaches to reverse losses and instead embed knowledge retention efforts into business processes.  Whether isolating and pinpointing a priority process or expert, the authors give compelling and practical action plans for organizational capability building.  New Edge surfaces the essential fundamental efforts, and include case reviews of Aerospace Corp., Michelin and NASA’s knowledge transfer models.

New Edge in Knowledge has much more than that chapter/section that I just highlighted. It’s a useful how-to manual that takes best practice sharing and organizational capability building right to your enterprise.  It includes numerous case studies along with that essential chapter on measuring the impact of knowledge management (everyone always wants more of that!). What gives this choice my vote is the newer approaches that focus on enterprise social networking and collaboration practices, e.g. having open and curious conversations to facilitate deeper connections and flows to succeed in the now and in the next.

I hope you find some insightful ah-ha’s in this choice.  I do.

Tell me more – conversations to grow what we know.

Jonathan Norman recently shared an outstanding resource via Major Projects Knowledge Hub Facebook group.  Diane Thielfoldt’s piece on the topic of knowledge transfer “Passing the Torch: Transferring Knowledge from Baby Boomer Employees to the Next Generation(s)  provides an amazing  overview of risks associated with loss of organizational expertise and competitive capabilities. To mitigate this risk and reverse strategic knowledge asset loss or exhaust, her article does a great job of describing the need to cultivate knowledge exchange and learning operations. I’m also inspired by her clear-eyed, practical examples of where and how to begin.

Reflection on Thielfoldt’s insights brought me back to Ana Neves of Social Now, another thought leader on knowledge sharing through enterprise social exchange. Ana’s writes and speaks about the essential elements needed first to set up successful practices.  Not just another tech tool here!  The fundamentals and frameworks to surface tacit knowledge assets begin with operations, leadership shifts and physical infrastructure.  With these management decision in play, essential enablers are in place for know-who and know-how to grow.  Neves gives us examples: create physical spaces for informal work discussions, establish time and rewards for “Work Out Loud” posts (to enterprise social networks or communities of practice for example) and in-person opportunities for community conversation and expertise exchanges.

Social Now’s 2019 conference highlighted the compelling cases for today’s networked leaders to create examples, operations and model engagement to shift organizational cultures to grow knowledge transfer and continuity. Her Social Now web page on the mandate for “new forms of ecosystem engagement” and “a shift in organizational mind-set, structure and interaction” is here:…/

Taken together, these two resources spark vision and frameworks that use face-to-face or virtual conversations to capitalize on expertise for reuse and innovative problem solving.