As you know, I’ve spent two decades working in the field of sharing knowledge and run a consulting company that focuses on solving talent management problems through knowledge transfer. It is only in the last few years, however, that I’ve developed a point of view at the knowledge transfer strategy level. It started with my last book and has continued with a spate of global projects where we’ve tested and honed this thinking. We have learned that to roll out our work to an enterprise, the client organizations have to consider the broader implications of the effort, including ensuring alignment at the exec level and assessing and overcoming roadblocks. It doesn’t matter how simple and useful our framework is—if the organization isn’t prepared for success, we’re going to have an uphill battle.
This Article Covers
DEFINITION: Knowledge transfer is the methodical replication of the expertise, wisdom, and tacit knowledge of critical professionals into the heads and hands of their coworkers. It is more than just on-the-job training. It is the planned movement of the right skills and information at the right time to keep a workforce prepared, productive, innovative, and competitive.
Suppose we’re at an office facility, mall, park, or another large complex for the first time; to get our bearings we look for the directory map and that little red dot showing: “You are here.” In a similar effort to situate this knowledge transfer blog and our discussions in the greater world of business, I want to show what we mean by “knowledge transfer” and where we are relative to other terms you may have heard.
The field of knowledge transfer relates to such common business subjects as operations management, communication, risk management, knowledge management, human capital, succession planning, and employee retention—just to name a few. And yet it is none of these on its own.
A knowledge transition plan includes the measurable transfer on-the-job of both explicit skills as well as implicit or tacit knowledge. The key issue that knowledge transfer professionals work to solve is: What can we do to make the critical, high priority transfer of knowledge happen faster, with less stress, and with greater predictability and consistency?
Through this guide and our website, we explore all of the ways that companies all over the world are working to make this process easier and more efficient. We pass on timely news of new developments and congregate top voices in the field. The goal is to make your business world a better place by unpacking what it takes to develop a “culture to transfer knowledge”—where experts teach and their co-workers learn, and birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and everybody is having a good hair day. Seriously, I don’t think this is too utopian. We’ve come a long way already and this is a worthy goal. I’m looking forward to it and hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Since every company deals with knowledge transfer issues at some point, many business leaders that we meet are looking at a variety of options for solving the problem. I thought I’d write up some notes to help all of you do a better job of being the “customer” for a knowledge transfer solution. Whether you are building a solution in-house or buying a solution from an outside source, you may want to consider the importance of these knowledge transfer program attributes in making your decision. Every organization won’t need to include everything on this list but you should decide what you need early on, so you are clearer about your requirements.
A quality program to transfer knowledge should provide the following attributes and clear responses to these related questions:
SUMMARY: Before adopting an effective knowledge transfer solution, spend some time doing due diligence and deciding how your program will address key attributes. The list above gives attributes of a good knowledge transfer program and also poses questions that reveal a “scale” of how structured and clear or unstructured and lax your program can be. Executives should actively choose where on this sliding scale they want their knowledge transfer program to fall.
Real risks of talent and knowledge loss lie ahead if organizations don’t address their effective knowledge transfer issues. Productivity, competitiveness, and a company’s ability to deliver its promised product or service on time and on budget are at stake. Common sense tells us to prioritize the work of building a knowledge transfer program, but the reality is that most leaders do not know HOW. And so, by default, they don’t. A knowledge transfer strategy can help connect the idea that knowledge transfer is even possible (the how) to the very real issues that every business faces including tight budgets, changes in leadership, competing initiatives, diverse and dispersed workers, and plain trouble handling change. A quick example:
- We’re working with an engineering organization for a major manufacturer. They are moving operations for a product line from one city to another. Only about 25% – 40% of the existing engineers will make the move and others will retire or move to a competitor across town. In the new location, they’ll need to stand up a new operation for an existing product line while they maintain production goals. This means setting up equipment, resetting and testing processes and building product all with a staff and management that is largely new and often spread between the old and new locations.
- The need for knowledge transfer plan is without question; retiring workers passing knowledge to the next generation, onboarding new employees for quick ramp up, cross-training remaining workers to handle some of the old and some of the new, etc. Everyone is on board with the need. The trouble is that the leaders had a very difficult time prioritizing the knowledge transfer effort relative to all of the other ways the team could stay busy. Transferring knowledge is imperative because it is literally walking out the door every day, but no one seems to be able to take action.
A knowledge transfer plan would help the manufacturer align leadership around the risks associated with losing all this experience, prioritize the mitigation of that risk relative to the other work that could be done, set goals such as number of hours in knowledge transfer versus other work, and then embed the knowledge transfer plan in the day-to-day operations of the team. These would be big changes that could be discussed and executed quickly if only the team took a short break from their increasing panic to set strategy and then act. I want to tell you more about this and give you some ideas for what you could do if you find yourself in a similar or parallel situation. Download our knowledge transition plan template:
My vision for this guide is to walk through how we’re thinking about knowledge transfer plan and provide examples of what we’ve learned and fodder for discussion. I’m writing this guide for the greater knowledge transfer community, but especially for executives who deal with these issues and are searching for workable solutions, past clients who want to follow the next generation of knowledge transfer thought leadership, and knowledge transfer champions inside business organizations who struggle to be heard and provide support to their ideas. In this guide we plan to:
Lots of people use the word strategy very loosely. The word gets thrown around in business like people put salt on food. For some, a strategic plan is a one-page bulleted list; for others, it’s a 40-page treatise about who an organization is going to be in the future, how that’s going to look and feel, even including the tactics to get them there. I bring this up in this guide because before you create any knowledge transfer strategy, you need to think about defining what you mean by strategy.
The strategy should work to stay high level—it should not get tactical. For example, a strategy might say that participants should target 15% of their work week on transferring knowledge—that’s strategic because it guides employees as they try to figure out the level of importance this work should play in their day to day job. But the strategy wouldn’t say, “You have to do it all on Mondays”—that would be too tactical.
You’ll know it is a good strategy if it helps people make decisions about how they’ll direct their knowledge transfer plan. For example, should employees line up behind one expert and work toward a high degree of consistency? Should the knowledge transfer effort appear in their performance reviews and potentially affect compensation? Should they report on the results of their knowledge transfer efforts and if so, to what level of the hierarchy? Under what circumstances should they prioritize knowledge transfer over other project work? Is knowledge transfer initiated by a centralized “Center of Excellence” or in a more ad hoc way as managers see fit? Who is accountable for ensuring the knowledge is transferred? The mentor/expert worker, the manager, or the learner/apprentice worker? These are executive level questions that must be answered in the strategy because each one shapes how employees will focus their time and energy. Imagine the difference between an expert who believes that he is required to spend 10% – 15% of every work week engaged in knowledge versus an expert who mainly just fits knowledge transfer in when it is convenient? Or how would an expert behave differently if she has been asked to define a standard for a job skill in her work and then ensure that standard is consistently met by her peers using that skill? Setting strategy is about making choices. It requires articulating the options and choosing one over the other so that employees on the front line can be freed up to execute and not second-guess every decision. We’ll provide more detail on this below.
Before continuing in this guide, let’s answer a simple but important question: Why does an organization need a knowledge transfer plan—why should we care enough to dedicate time and energy to this work? A knowledge transfer strategy could easily be a subset of an organization’s overall talent management strategy. I think it should be called out separately because knowledge transfer is so pervasive and it can be either wildly productive or a sloppy mess.
The reason knowledge transfer process is more often a mess is because few leaders ever stopped to think about how many ways an organization can approach to transfer knowledge as a critical component of their talent planning; it just never crossed their minds. I also think they take knowledge transfer for granted because it isn’t perceived as a new idea. Organizations have become comfortable relying on an ad hoc approach for so long.
Finally, while I think there is plenty of agreement at the executive level on the importance of knowledge transfer, there is very little alignment on what it means to make it a high priority. I was recently on a call with an IT exec of a blue chip who said, “I think we need to make knowledge transfer process a very high priority. I tell my people that I want them to be “all in.” But, they are the ones who have to decide what they’ll do day to day.” While I was glad to hear his enthusiasm, I had to tell him that the point he’s missing—and the point that can be answered with a knowledge transfer strategy—is that he needs to define “all in” for his team members in very specific ways. Don’t leave your people to guess what you mean by “high priority” and “all in.” Answer where knowledge transfer work ranks compared to other tasks. By the end of this guide, I’ll show you how.
Another reason transfer knowledge deserves its own strategic plan is because your knowledge transfer systems, whether formal or ad hoc, are already how people learn their jobs. Numerous studies show that 70% – 80% of knowledge acquisition happens on the job regardless of how much formal training or schooling has been available. In the absence of a strategy and a tactical plan, your workforce’s skill acquisition, and ultimately its productivity, will typically face a variety of problems:
A manager from one of our multinational manufacturing clients was asked to define the talent problems faced by his team and develop a logical solution using knowledge transfer. The business need and urgency were clear—major projects were coming online with no one to lead them and, given the manufacturer’s specialized work, the needed talent had to be developed not hired in. The proof of concept for the knowledge transfer solution was clear from the pilot we’d just finished. Still, the young manager could not get the attention of any higher-ups to play along to the point of executing the knowledge transfer program wide scale. This wasn’t a budget issue. They had already invested in the solution. The problem was in prioritizing the knowledge transfer work relative to the team’s more immediate project work. It was a classic “pay me now or pay me later” situation. So the question was: WHY couldn’t such a logical, proven solution to urgent problem move up on the priority list? My team looked into this further and found the answer was cultural and operations-based: the company’s utilization and compensation model rewarded short-term thinking versus long-term investment. It literally made any time spent on knowledge transfer cost mentors within the organization’s workforce on their performance reviews because company goals were entirely short-sighted. It made the knowledge transfer problem unsolvable in their current structure and culture.
This situation was one of the reasons the client decided to pop up a level in their thinking and develop a knowledge transfer strategy. They realized that they needed to set a clear plan from the top-down to address cultural and structural issues. They couldn’t be successful if their utilization and compensation model was actively inhibiting their experts from sharing their knowledge and experience internally. The solution was simple on the surface. Senior management needed to provide budget so that experts could bill some of their time against an employee development budget. The trouble was that this budget didn’t exist at first and had to be allocated. Once the senior execs reviewed the need for additional project managers and clearly understood the ramifications of their current model, they made the necessary changes for targeted regions around the world. Later in this guide I’ll say more about the issues we addressed and clarified in this client’s knowledge transfer strategy work. In the end, building this strategy was a critical exercise that had wide-ranging implications for their employees around the world.
Earlier in this guide, we answered the important question of why organizations need and benefit from a knowledge transfer strategy. Now, let’s look at the first step of building a knowledge transfer strategy for your organization: framing the talent problem. To be credible and useful, any good Knowledge Transfer Strategy must clearly frame–through a talent lens–the business problems that threaten workforce readiness in the next 1 – 3 years.
The developers of your organization’s knowledge transfer strategy should start by agreeing that a ready workforce is not a luxury but a business necessity. Since every organization relies on people who know how to do the work the right way, the goal of maintaining a ready workforce should be fairly straightforward–but it rarely is. When faced with troubling talent challenges, normally detail-oriented and analytical leaders get fluffy in their thinking. On the one hand, executives will often say “our people are our greatest resource” and having a ready workforce is the “highest priority.” But on the other hand, when asked how much time the organization’s experts should spend transferring critical knowledge to peers each week or month (as a way of ensuring readiness), leaders will demure and say such tasks will have to fit in after all the “real” work gets done. One recent strategy session with one of our knowledge transfer consulting clients uncovered this paradox, and when it became clear, the CEO said, “Yes, I’m a hypocrite. I don’t know where my people will find the time!” A knowledge transfer strategy can help every executive guide their employees in prioritizing the work of transferring critical knowledge relative to other work. It is every executive’s job to make hard decisions that balance short term project deadlines with long term investments in ensuring sufficiently skilled workers. When executives abdicate these decisions, the decisions don’t go away, they are just pushed down to be made by frontline employees who are often too busy or too stressed to take a long-term view. Some would call pushing these decisions down to the front line “empowerment.” I just call it sloppy, or at least ill-advised. So as a developer of your organization’s knowledge transfer strategy, first commit to the importance of a ready workforce and accept your role in making the tough decisions ahead.
Frame the talent problem in simple and concise language. Executives must be able to articulate their organization’s business need for talent. You already state your needs for workspace, equipment, raw materials, transportation, etc. In the same way, you have to be able to talk about your need for talent. I am not talking about just the annual battle for more headcount. Nor is this about the annual battle for training dollars where your CLO comes in with benchmarking data on the % of revenue that should be spent on developing people. I am talking about stating the need for the skills required to deliver on the promise to your customers. This also includes clearly stating the level of urgency and the very real financial risks you face from a lack of needed skills or the loss of unique tribal knowledge from your organization. This is often not understood by others without a clear illustration. This talent need and risks can be communicated in plain language if you do some straightforward legwork first:
With this analysis in place, you will be ready to frame your talent problem (as well as develop the other parts of your knowledge transfer strategy that we’ll discuss soon). Here’s an example of how one of our clients answered the above questions and framed their talent problem:
A Fortune 500 company that designs and builds $500+ million projects realized that they needed an additional 80+ “Level 3” project managers to be able to handle their projected workload in 2015 (three years away). Historically it has taken 7 – 10 years working on-the-job, regardless of experience upon hiring, to fully develop a Level 3 project manager because this company’s work is so specialized. This specialized need, coupled with a tight talent market, meant that these 80+ workers could not be simply hired from outside. In fact, existing qualified Level 3 project managers are at risk of being poached themselves. If the client were to leave the system alone and accept the status quo approach, this client would have had to make plans for this need ten years ago. Instead, they’re starting now—at best, four years too late to meet the substantial need. They needed to transfer knowledge to help shift the thinking of their leadership from the “way we’ve always done it” to a new approach that will accelerate the training process and meet the business need. The consequences are dire: if they don’t have enough qualified Level 3 project managers, their clients will not hire them to do these anticipated half billion dollar projects. And—make no mistake—their clients are personally meeting and interviewing the assigned project manager well in advance of making a deal. They can’t leave this to chance on such a big investment.
When stated with this clear illustration of need, urgency, and the financial risks, everybody in the client’s leadership team agreed on the problem. No one disputed that it takes 7 – 10 years with the current system, or that there are at least 80 new people needed. Getting this agreement was a good start. The trouble was that not one senior executive stepped up to pay the short term costs associated with preparing this next generation of PMs for the workforce. My company needed to provide a strategy that would help them change the way they looked at this problem so that they could figure out how to address the solution–which will be the topic of the next section.
SUMMARY: Concisely frame your business problem through a talent lens. You need to be able to plainly articulate, in a short statement, your organization’s business need for talent in the next 1 – 3 years and the real operational and financial risks if your organization fails to meet these talent requirements. Use the above analysis questions to guide you.
A knowledge transfer strategy should state in a few paragraphs the way transfer of knowledge has historically happened in an organization. Even if your organization has not engaged in formal knowledge transfer, there is still relevant history. Knowledge transfer is already happening in any workforce—it’s just may not be as efficient, consistent, or complete as needed to meet the talent needs of the business. The knowledge transfer strategy needs to reference the history so that it can surface any investments of time, money, and political capital that will inevitably affect the execution of the strategy and adoption of the solution.
Using a client of my consulting company, here’s an example of a relevant historical context: A major insurance company outsources roughly half of its IT Division’s workforce. They maintain IT offices in three countries, have an aging workforce, and—due to many legacy systems that go back to the early day ‘s of software programming—have lots of unique critical knowledge that can’t be learned elsewhere.
More than two years earlier they began handing off major blocks of IT work to the outsourced vendor in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This outsource partner marketed their services to the insurer as including a knowledge transfer system—but this system turned out to be knowledge management and not knowledge transfer. Effectively, the “knowledge transfer” process used over the past two years of outsourcing handover has been for the insurer to create a document on some particular knowledge to be transferred (e.g. a certain IT process that the outsource partner is absorbing) and for the insurer and outsource partner to talk through the document.
This amounted to explaining vocabulary and steps in the process and then handing over the document and considering the knowledge transferred. The problem with this process is that it lacks the necessary depth to be called knowledge transfer; it doesn’t get at any related wisdom and tacit knowledge (e.g. What’s the relationship between x and y? What are the top three things to troubleshoot if a process fails? Who do you have to know to get something done? How do you know when you are in over your head? Etc.) Evidence that the needed depth is lacking is clear: two years after the transfer of outsourced IT roles, the outsource partner is still not working independently.
Outsourced workers cannot perform their assigned roles and handle all the IT problems that arise, enough for ineffectiveness to be visible at the executive level. The insurer did not have an alternative formal knowledge transfer system of their own and their response has been a reactive and costly one. They put their best people on planes and fly them out to the outsource partner to solve the problems and retrain the partner resources in real-time.
Their IT experts are running around putting out fires, instead of getting ahead of the problem or focusing on their own jobs. Even the outsource partner acknowledges that it would be more helpful if their client was clearer about their expectations—but clearer how? The insurer is not holding the vendor accountable to outcomes because they can’t under the current system. Two years into the changeover and the insurer is still following the status quo for lack of an alternative transfer of knowledge process or better strategy—and it’s not working. It’s the opposite of the anticipated efficiency and costs savings expected from the outsourcing effort.
In addition, the insurer is facing the imminent retirement of a large percentage of their current IT workforce. Some of these professionals write code in programming languages that date so far back that the next generation has never even heard of the languages, let alone been trained in them. For example, for one critical system used to collect money to interface with banks and move funds, there is literally one employee who knows how to make programming changes—and he’s at retirement age.
The insurer knows that he and many other experienced professionals will be leaving in the next 1 – 5 years and leadership wants to retain their tribal knowledge before it goes out the door. There was no methodical, measurable transfer of knowledge system in place to do this until my consulting company was asked to help. This sample overview makes the organization’s knowledge transfer history clear, even to a reader not familiar with the business unit or experienced in the field of knowledge transfer. It can be summarized in a few bullets:
SUMMARY: After framing your organization’s talent problem, your knowledge transfer strategy should next provide relevant historical context to show how transfer of knowledge has typically occurred in the organization, what benefits or problems have resulted, and what other methods have been tried or confused with the work of knowledge transfer. It should clearly state the ways in which your knowledge transfer strategy needs to respond to this history.
Your knowledge transfer strategy—after framing your business’s talent problem and providing historical context—should next state your expectation for how knowledge transfer will occur in your organization within the next 1 – 3 years. You can run cognitive exercises to help create this picture or you can look to history as a means to illuminate what paths to take and not to take—but the end result should be a clear, succinct written statement of what good knowledge transfer will and won’t look like in your organization’s near future.
Summarize the Expectation in a Simple, Clear List
In the case of one client of my knowledge transfer consulting firm, we started by describing their picture of good knowledge transfer very basically—saying what it would no longer be:
All good knowledge transfer strategies will have some version of these five points. They set a clear direction of how an organization’s knowledge transfer will change and perform. But looking at this list, the next question is obvious: what is it going to take to achieve that? A knowledge transfer strategy needs to include more depth to be useful.
Add the next layer of specificity to your strategy by defining where your organization’s ideal knowledge transfer lies on a spectrum between extremes of key attributes. To do this, our consulting firm created a tool we call Knowledge Transfer Strategy Guideposts. This is a document of about 20 or so key attributes of how knowledge transfer can occur in any organization. Each Guidepost presents a sliding numbered spectrum. On the left is the extremely structured, controlled, predictable end of the spectrum for that attribute; on the right is the much looser or unrestricted end of the spectrum. The developers of your knowledge transfer strategy choose a position on the sliding scale to define that attribute of the knowledge transfer picture. For example, some areas that your knowledge transfer strategy should define one or more guideposts for are:
Each one of these areas is intended to add a layer of depth to the five main points that define your knowledge transfer expectations. In practice, each line executive or senior leader responsible for the knowledge transfer strategy should first answer these guidepost questions individually. This will expose gaps in alignment and provide fodder for a rich discussion of what knowledge transfer should look like in their organization. In my company’s consulting work, we’ll often find a number of executives are thinking three to five years ahead, while others on the same strategy team aren’t. After uncovering gaps, these disparities can be discussed as a group and rectified. The end result should be a concise, written description of knowledge transfer expectations that clearly guide implementation, plus the leadership consensus to generate accountability.
SUMMARY: Define what good knowledge transfer should and should not look like in your organization. Clarify expectations by choosing key attributes and setting “guideposts” that define where on a spectrum your knowledge transfer system should fall.
There are two kinds of knowledge transfer projects: those with the benefit of an articulated organizational knowledge transfer strategy and those without that benefit. I’m taking the opportunity to give you a few examples of how a good knowledge transfer strategy can be manifested in real work. When the rubber hits the road, you’ll get to see how taking the time to articulate a strategy makes a measurable difference in your organization. The great thing about our Knowledge Transfer Guideposts is that they provide practical guidance to managers, mentors, and apprentices on the ground. Day-to-day decision making is easier, and you can be sure that knowledge transfer activities will be aligned across teams and will support the leadership vision for the organization.
When I’ve worked with multiple teams in an organization without a knowledge transfer strategy, the results and follow-through from each of the teams are inconsistent. Since no one has set expectations for knowledge transfer at a higher level, each manager interprets for herself how to implement knowledge transfer for her team. This can result in highly varied outcomes and even conflicts in an organization. Here’s an example that I saw happen some time ago in a large workforce. One manager implementing knowledge transfer on her software engineering team assumed that the expert employees who held critical knowledge to be transferred would be mentors shared across the organization to result in a high level of consistency—something she deemed important for the business. A second manager, who managed some of those experts—the assumed shared resources—was unwilling for his team to play that role of mentor across multiple engineering teams. This meant it was left up to the first manager to negotiate a compromise with the second manager. How much simpler and more time efficient it would have been if they both had clear direction from their leadership about how important consistency was or was not for the organization. Without an articulated strategy, when time gets tight, managers and team members can also easily make assumptions about upper managements’ perspective on the priority of knowledge transfer. I once had a senior team manager, working without the benefit of a knowledge transfer strategy, express doubt that his organization’s executives would want to see a high level of activity on his knowledge transfer scorecard. On the contrary, I knew from a separate communication thread that this manager’s V.P. expected knowledge transfer to be a high priority for every individual in the organization. Without a knowledge transfer strategy articulated and communicated in this case, even a senior manager in the organization didn’t know how to prioritize project work against the knowledge transfer program that was designed to reduce critical risk on his team.
With a knowledge transfer strategy, managers and individuals can be sure about the decisions they make on a daily basis concerning how to spend their time and how to manage their resources. Best of all, many of the Knowledge Transfer Guideposts can be translated directly into knowledge transfer metrics that are easily measured and tracked in regular team and business reviews. Having this level of clarity written down for all to see, and tracking tangible metrics on a regular basis, reinforces accountability at all levels of the organization. It also reassures team members that they have upper management support for making progress on knowledge transfer. For one recent blue chip client, I was able to incorporate twelve Guideposts directly into a scorecard that teams use to track their knowledge transfer progress on a bi-weekly basis. Here are a few examples:
With scorecard metrics like these and others translated directly from the client’s strategy Guideposts, teams and upper management can see at a glance whether or not their knowledge transfer program is producing the desired results—and where corrections and manager action is needed.
SUMMARY: A well developed and communicated knowledge transfer strategy makes a tangible difference to managers and individuals who are putting knowledge transfer changes into practice in an organization. Making decisions, collaborating on knowledge transfer between teams, staying aligned with the executive-level vision, and tracking measurable progress is easier—even automatic in some cases—with the clarity of direction that a knowledge transfer strategy provides.
Your knowledge transfer strategy should include a clear cost-benefit analysis for the change you want to make from your organization’s knowledge transfer status quo to a program that meets your defined expectations. The first step is to consider the costs of a change. Be sure to include the time your experts will spend transferring knowledge to their peers. This can be as little as a few hours per week but we’ve found that ignoring this reality causes problems when it is time to execute the strategy. There is also going to be some overhead for setting up the system, potentially using internal or external help. Then think about the benefits. The cleanest way I have found to get at the benefits is to assess opportunities and threats to your business and then derive potential returns from there. The main goal of knowledge transfer is to manage talent and knowledge risks, including risks of failing in your current business or failing to take full advantage of growth opportunities. Your cost/benefit analysis should be informed by a thorough understanding of the impacts those risks could have on your business. Here are a few ways to think about threats in the context of a knowledge transfer strategy:
Understanding threats is important, but you should also look beyond threats to opportunities. A good knowledge transfer program will not only mitigate potential productivity and financial losses, it also can introduce ways to add revenue:
SUMMARY: Every knowledge transfer strategy should include a cost/benefit analysis. To make informed decisions about your knowledge transfer investment, be sure your analysis provides a thorough assessment of your threats, but don’t forget to include your opportunities.
In this knowledge transfer guide so far, I’ve outlined the steps needed to define your organization’s knowledge transfer challenges, history, and expectations, and to write a cost-benefit analysis. Now your strategy should include a few basic guidelines for knowledge transfer implementation, such as a general timeline and clear definition of key roles. For example, these roles may be:
Now, at this stage in writing your knowledge transfer strategy, you should identify the implementation risks that lie ahead and plan how you’ll manage them. A knowledge transfer strategy—like any other kind of strategy—needs to clearly understand the environment in which you are operating and uncover the reasons why you’ll be successful, and even more so, the reasons why you might fail.
Identify Risks to Implementing Your Knowledge Transfer Strategy
Implementation risks can derail even the best strategic plan. To help you get started with this step, here are some examples of common implementation risks my knowledge transfer consulting company has seen among our clients:
SUMMARY: Implementing a knowledge transfer strategy is going to require change. Your strategy should not only address common implementation items such as a basic timeline and clear role definition but also should include a section that names potential roadblocks to your plan’s implementation and how you intend to mitigate these risks.