Have you ever felt the pressure of having experts that you rely on too much? I’m talking about those lynchpin employees on which the profitability and productivity of your business depend.
While experts like these can give you a competitive advantage in the beginning, they may become liabilities as your business grows.
Here’s a quick story that illustrates this problem.
This Article Covers
The Lynchpin Expert Problem
My company was recently hired by the VP of a medical device corporation. He’d heard about our work in knowledge transfer (KT) and was hoping that we could help him mitigate an issue he was facing.
His company had recently invested over $2 billion into a new medical product and despite positive forecasts, their reliance on lynchpin experts was slowing speed to revenue – their ability to monetize the investment.
Why so slow?
The product had been well designed, but it was being manufactured in another country. Due to faulty knowledge transfer attempts, the foreign team didn’t have the information necessary to get the product into production and into customers’ hands.
This forced my client’s company to fly the US-based experts who designed the product to the manufacturing plant so that they could oversee production. But, these experts were supposed to be back in the office designing the next product, not overseeing the manufacturing of the current one. This delay was causing deadlines to be missed, backups to occur, and the schedule to slip.
Fortunately, my team came in to help the design experts get back in the office by providing this company with three powerful KT tools and methods — the same ones I’m going to share with you today.
Effective Knowledge Transfer Tools and Methods for 2020
Build a Clear Skill Development Plan
In order to help my client’s design experts transfer their knowledge to the manufacturing team, we needed to have a clear roadmap for how this was going to happen. If you want knowledge transfer, then you too need to start with building a plan.
As with every assembly project, the first step towards building a skill development plan is making sure you have the right tools. Here are the six concepts you need to have in place to ensure the success of your plan:
1. A comprehensive list of every task your apprentice needs to learn.
Your apprentice is the person on the receiving end of the KT. In my story, the apprentices were the manufacturers. Make a list of every task they need to know and do in order to perform effectively.
2. Organize the list of tasks in order of priority so that you know which tasks will be taught first
Deciding which skills matter most is a great way to keep everyone involved in the KT on the same page.
3. A clear understanding of which experts will teach which tasks.
Not every expert is an expert on every subject. To ensure that the knowledge transfer goes well, you need to identify which members of your team are experts on the tasks that need to be passed to the apprentices.
4. A list of which skills can be taught over the phone and which skills require in-person training.
This step ensures that you don’t waste resources on flying your experts to meet apprentices in person if the skills they need to learn can be taught just as easily via online meeting app.
5. A list of existing resources that apprentices can use to help study.
Are there training manuals, videos, samples, or other kinds of documentation that your experts can hand out to help supplement their teaching? This list of resources is also crucial for helping your apprentices advance through independent study.
Once you have all these assembled, you can build your skill development plan. If you partner with our company for this process, one of our certified consultants will work with you to design the pace and order in which your apprentices will learn the tasks.
Here are a couple more knowledge transfer tools and methods that are important for effective knowledge transfer.
Teach Your Experts How to Pass Their Knowledge On
Few people are born teachers. If you’re planning to simply push your expert into a room with apprentices and expect knowledge transfer to take place, then you should also be expecting your KT to be slow and inefficient.
Before putting your experts in front of an apprentice, give them access to a coach or trainer who can teach them how to teach.
Here at The Steve Trautman Co., my team conducts Knowledge Transfer Workshops using proven techniques that set your experts up for success in the classroom.
Define What “Done” Looks Like
Before we began executing the KT for my client, the medical device corporation, we sat down with their leadership to ensure that we were all on the same page when it came to defining what success would look like for this KT campaign.
This is a crucial step for every knowledge transfer. How do you know you’ve finished if you haven’t defined what done looks like?
For the medical device company, “done” was defined in specified stages. First, on an individual level, we determined what skills the apprentices needed to have mastered in order for this KT to be deemed successful. Second, on a company-wide scale, done was defined as getting the product to market and the design experts back in the office and working on the next product.
How do you know when you’ve hit “done”? One of the best knowledge transfer tools for this is a test that evaluates each apprentice. Design the test so that passing it ticks off all your “done” requirements.
I recommend a set of 20 verbal questions that apprentices can answer to demonstrate that they’ve truly absorbed their training. If an apprentice passes this test, then you know that they are ready to work independently.
Your Knowledge Transfer Ally
Here at The Steve Trautman Co., my team and I have over 25 years of experience helping some of the world’s largest companies execute successful knowledge transfers. To learn more about the knowledge transfer tools we offer, contact our team today and speak with one of our certified Consultants.
So, what about you? What changes are you grappling with? What’s working and not working? Are you there yet? I’d love to hear your stories. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.