- THE CHALLENGE
- 3-STEP SOLUTION
- CLIENT RESULTS
- ABOUT US
The Knowledge Silo Matrix essentially formats the results from our pointed information-gathering process into a simple grid charting the degree of technical and professional expertise held by individual workers in a group or team, graphed against the relevant knowledge areas of your business (i.e. processes, tools, platforms, standards, systems, products, customers, physical location, and history).
The Knowledge Silo Matrix can be filled out for a typical team or division in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. The tool is scalable from small teams to enterprise-wide solutions. And the product does not require a high degree of learning: the relational database used to display results is ultra simple.
The Knowledge Silo Matrix is an exceptional framework for the systematic assessment and mitigation of workforce risks due to aging workers nearing retirement. For example, aging workforce challenges are set to hit the nuclear industry hard. We recently implemented a project for a nuclear power plant and, after applying this risk assessment framework, found that a process defined by the client as vital was being run by a worker who was already retired and only coming in part-time. No other employee in the workforce was competent in this skill, which could potentially shutdown operations if not properly maintained. Since the work was getting done for the moment, managers had overlooked the issue and senior leadership wasn’t aware of the talent shortage—until our Knowledge Silo Matrix brought the risk to light. The next two tools in our 3-step solution facilitated the transfer of the retiree’s knowledge to apprentice workers, and a potential safety and productivity incident was avoided. Similar scenarios were repeated throughout the enterprise until its imminent talent and knowledge risks were neutralized.
The Knowledge Silo Matrix presents executives planning or executing a merger or reorganization with a quick, clear visual of their workforce’s strengths, risks, and redundancies to answer: where is the talent in this organization? Which people and what functions must we keep? What roles might we outsource? The head of one utility company for which we applied our framework said that with this tool in hand his plant’s recent reorganization was the easiest he’s experienced in 30 years.
A common problem in the fast growing high tech, entertainment, and communications sectors is that managers of growing companies often rely too heavily on a limited number of experienced people and, as a result, on-the-job mentors are overtaxed. The Knowledge Silo Matrix is a valuable tool for identifying burnout risks, setting appropriate load levels, and retaining employees. For example, in one instance the Knowledge Silo Matrix predicted the exit of a critical employee, due to burn out, three months prior: a video game company that had been experiencing rapid growth and substantial hiring came to us inquiring about our products, and over the course of a half hour on the phone, we filled out a demonstration KSM for one of their small teams. We found that one worker on the team was purple—the color of an expert and mentor—across all silos in the matrix. A signal of high risk. Several months later, the company’s executives hired us to create their knowledge transfer plan, and we inquired about that worker. We were told, “He left yesterday on medical leave. He’ll be out for four months.” They had lost the worker due to stress. Everyone on his team had been drawing upon him, and he was so overtaxed that he had a breakdown. Our Knowledge Silo Matrix can help you to avoid such events by identifying at-risk employees and can quickly show you the path to more appropriate load leveling and smarter, sustainable on-boarding.
We understand that in your business reducing safety incidents is a particular concern—with real financial and human costs at stake if measures fail. The recent disasters experienced by BP and the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant have only made the need for onboarding and cross training employees more of a hot button issue. Our 3-step knowledge transfer solution, led by the Knowledge Silo Matrix, has been proven to identify and reduce safety risks. For example, six months after our program was rolled out at a major American mining company, data clearly showed that new hires who received typical on-boarding and on-the-job training got hurt three times more often than the new hires on-boarded and trained by mentors who had taken the Knowledge Transfer Workshop.
A trend in your industry is to form formal risk management teams or positions—such as enterprise risk management groups or chief risk officers who evaluate potential threats in all aspects of your business. Our Knowledge Silo Matrix is a quick, relevant tool to equip such teams and individuals who are tasked to ask: what could go wrong in terms of our workforce and their ability to execute on time and on budget?
The Skill Development Plan is a master plan for moving trapped knowledge and mitigating risks in a critical job role.
First, we list the skills relevant to that role. (A skill is defined as something someone can say “go do” and can be learned by a qualified apprentice in about 1 - 2 hours.) We do this via a clear-cut interview process with your identified experts or “peer mentors” and their managers. We have found—after almost two decades of using this technique with job roles ranging from bank tellers to video game designers to army base commanders—that virtually all positions have 60 - 120 job skills.
We then prioritize which skills your “apprentice” employees need to learn right now and we sequence the skill list by order of importance. To create an assessment for each skill, we help your mentors choose five test questions from an established knowledge transfer set that we’ve developed over the years; these test questions are adept at checking for the wisdom and tacit knowledge behind any task and can reveal to the mentor if the apprentice has gained sufficient proficiency before using the skill.
We also include in the plan an inventory of existing resources available to support an apprentice’s learning (i.e. documentation, training, samples, templates, and who can mentor this skill), and we set a date by which the apprentice should be able to answer a skill’s test questions correctly—showing whether or not he or she is prepared to take on the work at hand.
The KTW defines roles in the knowledge transfer process and clarifies expectations of mentors and apprentices, garnering their buy-in and explaining the big picture goals of the program.
As an executive, you care about having the right talent to execute your strategy and achieve your business goals. So do we. Our Knowledge Transfer Workshop gives you 15 proven techniques to transfer an expert’s information, know-how, and tacit knowledge to their apprentice coworkers—while the mentor maintains a regular workload.
The tone of our workshop is 100% straightforward, get-it-done advice that has been tested and refined in the real world; no Koosh balls, no group hugs, and no singing Kumbayah. We teach simple tools that produce measurable change.
In the Knowledge Transfer Workshop, we teach:
We show your mentors how to organize their knowledge into manageable chunks, teach that material, and then make sure that the information was received as intended. We also show them simple ways to leverage different learning styles if they aren’t naturally on the same page with their apprentices. And we teach your mentors best practices for staying in touch with apprentices and transferring their knowledge while still getting their regular work done.
After training more than 30,000 people over two decades in a broad range of industries and countries, we have yet to encounter any mentor-apprentice scenarios that we can’t help you with. In addition to the workshop presentation, we also give each participant a core toolkit of written and Web support materials.
Mentors, apprentices, and managers routinely leave the workshop saying that it was the best training they’ve ever taken. And, independent research shows that more than 80% of students are consistently using the tools a full two months after the workshop.
Get started now. Download a free Knowledge Silo Matrix to fill out on your own.
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Or, Contact Us to schedule a Workshop for your enterprise or to discuss a customized knowledge transfer solution.