Unlike the formation of other kinds of business and talent strategies, there isn’t an obvious owner for the work of developing a knowledge transfer strategy. For example, if you’re talking about your sales strategy, you probably have sales executives, market analysts, and other people designated to address this. If you’re talking about your recruiting strategy, you probably have a fleet of recruiters. If you look at your learning strategy, you probably have a university or a training department. But in the case of a knowledge transfer strategy, it could be owned by anyone who understands the goals, the business needs, the operational teams that have talent risks to reduce, the experts who are teaching, and the employees are learning. This is one hallmark of a knowledge transfer strategy that differs from others strategies—especially strategies that typically fall under the umbrella of talent management or human capital.
Here are some options:
- An advisory council made up of business unit or line leaders could do the job as long as they take a global look at the problem, setting aside their “normal” allegiances for the greater good. There is a big risk in using a council because they rarely have authority to execute the strategy.
- A consultant, even an excellent one, can help facilitate setting the strategy but should not be actually writing the strategy. Ownership and accountability have to come from within.
- HR in most cases can act like a consultant and help facilitate the strategy but should not be the author. The actions that are required to execute the strategy have to be credible and accepted by those who will do the work and that is typically outside HR.
The Ideal Author and Owner
Ideally, the owner or “champion” of the knowledge transfer strategy should be the line managing executive—or a group of line managing executives—who lives with the strategy, executes it, and holds the company operationally accountable to it—with HR or a consultant providing facilitation and support.
But, if you are not a line manager, don’t let that stop you.
If you see the talent problem that your organization is facing and you care enough about the risks your workforce is racing toward that you’re giving formal knowledge transfer serious consideration, then you are probably the candidate to take up the cause. Remember that most of your colleagues probably don’t even know that it is possible to write a knowledge transfer strategy. Start by making them aware and helping them see both the need and the possibility for a solution.