Do NOT think you’ve resolved your knowledge transfer problem just by telling your knowledge holder to, “Write down what you do in your job.”
An engineer friend of mine, who is already retired, did that for his company and felt like the weeks he spent on the project were grossly inadequate. He said, “How do you put thirty years of experience on paper?”
While something similar might need to be included in the process of capturing knowledge, the approach to this step – 0r to any other step in so critical a process – must be personalized and, in some way, capsulized. We already know, from research into the learning processes familiar to Gen X and Y individuals, that younger workers are not likely to read any lengthy “report” by a predecessor on any subject.
KNOWLEDGE HOLDERS ARE PROBLEM SOLVERS.
Keep this in mind. The reason that any engineer, sales executive, architect, line leader, industrial plant manager, nurse, teacher, farmer, electrician, plumber, or any other individual who has successfully done their job for decades is successful, is not because they can read the instructions; it is because he or she can solve problems.
Problem Solvers have several things in common.
- They think on their feet.
- They see each project as a whole.
- They reason through challenges.
- They have developed “gut instinct” about their work.
- They can glance at a basement full of pipes, an acre of cotton plants, the framework of a building, a wall full of wires, a greasy engine, the face of a patient, or a classroom full of students and – out of a blur that means nothing to anyone else, a knowledge holder can spot potential problems.
Now, don’t just throw a piece of paper at your knowledge holders and tell them to do the things on this list. Develop an understanding of the instinctive nature of your knowledge holders, remember that they are humans and that knowledge is personal.
Bring in a knowledge transfer person who can help your knowledge holder to walk through past projects, either physically or by way of recaps and reports, and then, in collaboration, capture information from the above list, which…you might notice…just happens to be possible to codify.