‘GET YOUR GREEN ON’ – 7 Ways to Celebrate Knowledge Transfer Success (Part 1)

Get Your Green On Gift - PinHow do you recognize and reward successful knowledge transfer?  Over the years we’ve seen managers get pretty creative in how they publicly celebrate mentors and apprentices for their achievements together: awards, events, gifts—you name it.

Not only can these programs be fun, but good managers understand that recognition also serves a critical function: helping to drive measurable results and embed knowledge transfer in your culture.


Choosing the right way Continue reading »

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Before It’s Too Late – Using Emergency Knowledge Transfer to Manage Talent Risk

We’ve detailed howToo late - conceptual alarm clock showing that you are too late to use Emergency Knowledge Transfer (EKT) to mitigate talent risks in previous posts.  My knowledge transfer team recently helped a client facing the challenge of the unexpected resignation of a business-critical expert, and the story of how the EKT process unfolded is a lesson in management’s ability to achieve quick, clear, and measurable reduction of the risk of critical knowledge loss.

Our client, a global provider of automation and information solutions, had learned that one of their key employees was giving his 30-day notice. Continue reading »

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Can Knowledge Transfer Programs Succeed with Employees Who Bill Hourly? – A Quick Q&A

A structured knowledge transfer program intentionally moves critical knowledge and skills from employee to employee on the job.  One marker of a good knowledge transfer program is versatility—the process should work in all types of business environments.  For example, my knowledge transfer consulting firm was recently asked this question by a potential client:

Hi Steve,

How might your 3-step knowledge transfer process work with a firm that runs on billable hours to their clients?  Making time to train people and/or transfer knowledge is a challenge.



Continue reading »

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IN THE NEWS – Research Supports (Pre)Testing’s Impact on Learning and Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge Transfer Testing - Business mtg over the table

Here is the closing line of this fascinating New York Times article on testing, “…But the emerging study of pretesting flips that logic on its head.  ‘Teaching to the test’ becomes ‘learning to understand the pretest,’ whichever one the teacher chooses to devise.  The test, that is, becomes an introduction to what students should learn, rather than a final judgment on what they did not.”

Benedict Carey refers to research that supports a belief we at our knowledge transfer consulting firm have espoused for the last ten years Continue reading »

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The Myth of the Knowledge-Hoarding Expert Unwilling to Mentor Peers

Question MarkDEFINITION: A mentor is an expert (“subject matter expert,” “SME,” “domain expert,” “pro,” “guru,” “go-to person,” “rock star,” “buddy,” “genius,” etc.)—in any industry or line of work—who has unique, business-critical knowledge and needs or is asked to teach that knowledge to others. The knowledge can be explicit or tacit.  And, a mentor can be any age and have 50 years seniority in an organization or one day.  The essential factor is that the mentor knows something that others in an organization need to know in order to be successful.

There’s a common misconception in business that many subject matter experts are unwilling or unable to transfer their knowledge to coworkers. Continue reading »

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Talent Risks CAN be Measurably Assessed and Managed – a Practical List

MP900382652A common misconception I often find myself debunking is that risks related to “the people part” of business are somehow less quantifiable and manageable than other types of business risks.  As we have begun to further shape and prove that a business’s talent risks can be methodically assessed, prioritized, and managed, we still worry about common business language around this topic sounding too fluffy.  In this post, I’ve made a clear, comprehensive list of the types of talent risks that we can pinpoint with today’s knowledge transfer tool set.

Every one of the risks noted below can be Continue reading »

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New Case Study Available

Fortune-1000-logo-grayscale-knowledge-transfer-case-study“The proof is in the pudding,” they say, and that is why I love case studies. They are a fantastic way to get a flavor of how actual knowledge transfer challenges get solved in the trenches at our client sites all over the world.

We’ve added a new case study that looks at the work we did with a Fortune 1000 insurance company on ensuring consistency with its outsource partners.  How many organizations are frustrated by the unreliable output of their vendor partners?  This insurance company dealt with the issue head on, resulting in vendors who are producing more consistent and reliable output. Importantly, the insurer now has a methodical, efficient process in place to train future vendor hires and to hold the outsource partner accountable to maintaining those skill standards.

Take a look and you might see an interesting (or familiar) problem solved!

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4 Practices to Embed Knowledge Transfer into Your Business Culture

One positive taBusiness Culture of Knowledge Transferlent risk management trend I’ve noticed is that business leaders seek not only a clear solution to whatever immediate talent crisis they are facing, but they also want to embed a knowledge transfer methodology into their business culture. Knowledge transfer means the planned movement of the right skills and information at the right time to keep a workforce productive, competitive, and able to execute business strategy.  If culture is “the way we do things around here,” then embedding structured knowledge transfer into an organization’s culture means Continue reading »

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Two Leaders In Corporate Knowledge Transfer Combine Forces

Kathy L. Hagen Joins The Steve Trautman Co.

(JUNE 5, 2014—SEATTLE, WA)  Kathy L. Hagen, formerly of K. L. Hagen & Associates and a thought leader in the field of knowledge transfer, has joined The Steve Trautman Co.—pioneers in knowledge transfer for two decades—as Director of Account Management.

Hagen will shape a new account management methodology at The Steve Trautman Co. and ensure a richer, seamless client experience.

With Hagen joining forces and networks with the company’s founder and Principal Steve Trautman, the move partners two of the U.S.’s top thought leaders in knowledge transfer—a field focusing on the methodical replication of the expertise, wisdom, and tacit knowledge of critical professionals into the heads and hands of coworkers. Continue reading »

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Are Our People Really Our Most Important Asset? – Managing Talent Risk, Part 2

Last week’s post to this blog introduced the topic of managing talent risk and busted three common misconceptions around that. Let’s take on another.

As business leaders, you manage many risks systematically and with great rigor. You manage risk of litigation with contracts and insurance, risk to operations with multiple suppliers and maintenance protocols, risk to health and safety by having protective gear and environmental sensors, risk to finance by maintaining cash reserves and lines of credit, etc. Yet with all that you do in risk management elsewhere in your business, you likely do not have a rigorous way to assess and methodically mitigate talent risk in your workforce. Continue reading »

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Managing Talent Risk – 3 Common Misconceptions

Magnifying glass on employees

If you follow this blog, you’re going to see more content on the topic of managing talent risk as my team and I prep for my next book. So far, I’ve found that Deloitte has been the most vocal on the subject. The authors of their white paper on the topic make the case for a Risk Intelligent Enterprise ™. We’re in firm agreement that the intersection of Talent Management and Risk Management is long overdue. Deloitte would like to see an open dialog between the two groups that encompasses succession planning, rewards, ethics, compliance, health and safety, business and talent continuity, and culture. The gap I find in their thinking is Continue reading »

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Help Your On-the-Job Apprentices – What Mentors Can Do to Speed Knowledge Transfer

All of us in business learn our jobs by being on the job.  No matter how much classroom education we may have had, we learn how to do our jobs by watching, listening to, and being mentored by the more experienced people around us.  In fact, studies have shown that, regardless of occupation, most adults learn their job roles through 10% classroom training, 70% on-the-job training and mentoring, and 20% other sources (called the 70-20-10 Rule).  If you are the experienced employee who is setting the on-the-job standard for the right way to do things in a job role (a mentor), knowledge transfer best practices can help you to help your apprentices speed their learning.  Continue reading »

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Knowledge Transfer Solution ‘Soup to Nuts’ – What Implementing 3-Step Knowledge Transfer throughout an Enterprise Looks Like


If you’re like many companies facing a massive IT transformation, the prospect can be daunting.  Recently one of our clients, a Fortune 500 retailer, faced a massive IT transformation when upgrading their 30 year old legacy systems to current technology.  The company was in the second year of the transformation and experiencing rapid growth, nearing 1000 people in IT alone when they called on us at The Steve Trautman Co.  They engaged our knowledge transfer consulting firm to help them address a number of key issues: Continue reading »

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Knowledge Transfer in Your Workplace – 12 Transitions Made Easier for Employees Today… and Tomorrow

Knowledge transfer to help work transitions, reorganizations - Frustrated women with head on handHaving a knowledge transfer process embedded in the culture of your workforce enables employees to transition less painfully from out-of-date job roles and ways of doing things to new roles, tasks, and performance standards.  Structured knowledge transfer is critical for dealing with “the people part” of change because it provides employees with the tools to see what the change means down to their job’s task level, to learn needed skills from a designated standard bearer, and to measure whether they are doing things the new, right way.  Without this level of clarity, transitions are confusing at best, downright stressful and productivity-crushing at worst.  And, once an organization has established a culture of knowledge transfer, its workforce can face not only the current transition, but future ones as well. 

Transitions come in many shapes and sizes.  Think about which ones your company is facing today: Continue reading »

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Tip for Better, Faster Knowledge Transfer – It’s Not What People KNOW, It’s What They Know How to DO

Faster Onbaording and Speed in Knowledge Transfer - Simple TimerDEFINITION: A knowledge silo is a specific knowledge domain or area of expertise within a given job role or function.  Common examples include skills, tools, processes, systems and platforms, standards, products, customers, and history relevant to performing a job.  Knowledge silos are an important organizing concept within the field knowledge transfer.


People tend to think about knowledge in two different ways.  The first is what I call academic or “knowing” silos (areas of expertise), such as, “I know about material sciences, nutrition, or agile development.” Then, there are “doing” silos, such as “I can do seismic calculations, develop chemical formulas for new products, and manage plant systems maintenance.”  Even though we can all agree that you have to “know” before you can “do,” effective knowledge transfer starts with a focusing on the “doing” silos.  In other words, teach a qualified learner/apprentice how to do the work and the knowing will come along for the ride – and much faster.

A common mistake I’ve seen in my decades of knowledge transfer consulting is experts too often feeling the need to teach their apprentices lots of prerequisite background—“knowing” silos—rather than focusing on the skills required to do a job—“doing” silos.  Continue reading »

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Air, Food and Water – Provide Your New Hire with the Essentials First When Onboarding

Knowledge Transfer tools for onboarding new hires. The Steve Trautman Co.'s Air, Food and Water Pyramid

The Steve Trautman Co.’s Air, Food and Water Pyramid — a knowledge transfer tool for onboarding new hires. Click to Enlarge.

Did you study Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Psych 101?  In case you didn’t, here’s a quick summary that also sheds light on an onboarding best practice that we use at my knowledge transfer consulting firm: Continue reading »

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Free Webinar with HR.com – Knowledge Transfer Across the Generations: Preserving Your Secret Sauce (February 11)

Knowledge transfer process - free knowledge transfer webinarOn Tuesday, February 11th The Steve Trautman Co. is partnering with HR.com to present a webinar by our own Steve Trautman entitled: Knowledge Transfer Across the Generations:  Preserving Your Secret Sauce.  (Details below)


What It’s About

Do you have an experienced, aging workforce? Do you wish you could replicate your best people before you risk losing them?

From onboarding to retirement, the transfer of knowledge is a critical issue for every organization struggling with ramping up new hires or transitioning current employees to a new job role.  Likewise, if you are recovering after reorganization or assimilating employees after acquisition, you are facing the same challenge:  you have people who know and people who need to know. Continue reading »

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7 Simple Steps to Mass Customization in Employee Onboarding Using Knowledge Transfer

Mass Customization Using Knowledge Transfer Process - jeans and measuring tape imageCompanies have been utilizing mass customization for years.  Consider the jeans company that allows a customer to select a pair online.  Then, rather than ordering from stock sizes, the customer inputs her unique measurements and receives a one-off pair of jeans tailored specifically for her, a mass-appeal product customized for the unique needs of the moment.  Knowledge transfer within a business organization can be set up the same way to create a form of “mass customized” onboarding.  A manager or department leader creates a master Skill Development Plan (SDP) for a certain job role, and then customizes it for each unique employee.  The output is an employee with skills that have been uniquely “crafted” to fit current needs. Continue reading »

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For Those Who Missed It – Poll Results, Costs of Insufficient Knowledge Transfer, and More from Our December 12 Webinar

Steve Trautman's he Power of Knowledge Transfer Dec 12 Webinar - cover imageIf you’ve been following this blog you know that over the last few years we’ve added many new ideas and systems to our knowledge transfer work.  We started with the Knowledge Transfer Workshop (KTW), then added the Skill Development Plan (SDP) and the Knowledge Silo Matrix (KSM), followed by pilot knowledge transfer implementations for teams within client organizations (see our KT case studies).  We added change management support, manager training, and the development of internal process owners (KTPOs) so that our clients could take over from us and maintain their knowledge transfer systems over the long term.  We developed scorecards to track progress and root out obstacles, and we introduced executive level metrics and dashboard reporting to show value and maintain momentum.  Earlier this year we demonstrated how to connect knowledge transfer to an organization’s business strategy, a necessary step when rolling out knowledge  transfer at the enterprise level.  I summarized this strategic thinking in a blog series and in our Knowledge Transfer Strategy white paper.  Most recently, I’ve been introducing into the knowledge transfer conversation metrics and clear ways to discuss the very real costs of having insufficient knowledge transfer at your organization. Continue reading »

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