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

Experienced-Based Wisdom Takes You Further: Deep Smarts

This book choice post first appeared on the Major Projects Knowledge Hub on September 18, 2019.  Liz will be posting book choices to the Facebook Group Major Projects Knowledge Hub throughout the month of September 2019.

Greetings, all! Jonathan Norman invited me to share some book choices with you this month. In hopes that they will spark some new ideas for your work, here’s this week’s share:

Leonard, D., and Walter Swap. Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Business Wisdom. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005.


In my last two book choices, I outlined the ways that protecting or losing experienced based expertise know-how directly impacts distinctive competitive advantages.  I also used the term “deep smarts” frequently.  This book choice gets right into the heart of what that term means.

“Deep smarts are the engine of your organization.”

For my own work, I depend on Leonard and Swap’s book because of their own experiences, wisdom and know-how in this field.  Their own research and practical approach experiences are primary sources in the knowledge transfer and continuity management field.

Leonard and Swap explicitly highlight components and knowledge flow activities to successfully transfer experienced-based business expertise.  They demonstrate

  • The fundamental need to understand where expertise lives;
  • essentials of how to build expertise exchange cultures;
  • approaches to create knowledge transfer and continuity to engage and ensure that implied and tacit know-how become explicitly understood and brokered.

Give it a skim or a deep dive and then let me know what you think here or on twitter. @knowsaicNo photo description available.

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.