Do you talk about knowledge transfer at your office?
We certainly do at Volunteer Vancouver. We actually offer training to other organizations on how to create a continuity of leadership among their staff, but that doesn't exactly solve the problem of what's in my head and how to get that out and put it in someone else's.
Knowledge transfer is a tough topic, and I find it's hard to find "experts" on knowledge transfer. Often people start to talk about IT systems when you mention knowledge transfer, but it's more than that to me. Knowledge isn't someone's phone number and alma mater - it's why they're great to work with and how to keep them engaged. Someone once told me that knowledge is data enhanced by experience. I like that.
But how can we really create shared knowledge? How can we transfer the knowledge we have?
One thing we have here that I find incredibly helpful is a collection of Drop Dead Fred's (aka - the hit by a bus binder). A Drop Dead Fred is a binder of all things pertaining to a person's job - what they're planning, who they're working with, how they're planning to move forward, even passwords to important systems. So if I drop dead, someone can pick up my binder and at least have some idea of where to start. We have an annual Drop Dead Fred update scheduled into our planning processes, so that at least once a year I have to think of all the things I'm doing and put them in narrative for someone else's benefit. It's not foolproof, but it's a start.
Another tactic we use are reading files. All the periodicals, newspaper articles and mailings our organization gets are put into files that are circulated among ALL staff in the office. Staff are expected to spend work time reading these files. Though we don't all always read the same things, we will flag particularly interesting and relevant articles to encourage others to read that text. We then share the knowledge of that article and can also build on that knowledge by discussing it with our colleagues.
I've also heard of organizations having staff book clubs. Reading through books pertinent to your work, and then discussing them as staff seems like a great way to transfer knowledge.
So that's three ideas that barely begin to address knowledge transfer at an organization. Can you help? How do you transfer knowledge at your office? Any tips for the rest of us?
And for a bit of knowledge sharing here, below are periodicals I can't live without these days and highly recommend to you: