I met a woman at a recent AHRMA conference who, upon hearing about this research, offered to tell me why knowledge transfer doesn’t work!
She is a highly respected motivational speaker and is skilled at many other much needed workshops, which is probably why she was retained for knowledge transfer. Over coffee and pie she explained her statement. The company wanted to start with their sales team, most of whom had been in their jobs for years and the company was fearful over potential loss of sales. She shook her head and began.
“I met with the CSO and gave him all the assessments that I use to determine how people think and what to do with the information after I captured it. It didn’t work, he couldn’t tell me what he does. He doesn’t know how to tell anyone what he does to sell.”
Well, having been in sales for much of my career I can tell you with great certainty that anyone in sales knows precisely how they do what they do, how they study a potential customer, before ever meeting them, how they read that customer’s every movement and word from introduction to ink on the check. What he didn’t know, and what I don’t know, is how…or why…my young friend felt it necessary to do all those assessments first and then force his knowledge, right out of his mouth, into a format that made no sense to him.
She tried to codify the knowledge holder – so that he would give her information the way she, and other members of GEN-X and GEN-Y best relate. Of course it didn’t work!
Every book I read throughout this research project, and every scholarly research article, just published and still in study, stressed the importance of capturing knowledge is whatever format is comfortable for the knowledge holder, and then…later…codifying it in a system that is easy for younger people to learn.