Is Your Knowledge Management Strategy Focused on Knowledge Capture and Transfer?

Lauren Trees's picture

Today I hosted a 30-minute Webinar to spotlight some of APQC’s best knowledge management content from 2011. (If you want to find out what’s new in the Knowledge Base, I recommend listening to this recording of the presentation or downloading the slides.) As part of the Webinar, I polled the audience to find out which knowledge management topics they were most interested in. I have to admit, the results surprised me. Of the 93 attendees who responded, a whopping 49 percent said they are most interested in knowledge capture and transfer. The next highest-scoring category was communities of practice (16 percent), followed by collaboration (12 percent), software and technology for KM (12 percent), and expertise location (11 percent).

Based on these results, I’m looking at my 2012 publishing plan to incorporate more content on knowledge capture and transfer techniques. Is your organization emphasizing knowledge capture and transfer? If so, please leave a comment and let me know what your specific goals and/or challenges are. I want to make sure any new content I create hits the mark!


Agnes's picture

My organization focuses on knowledge capture and transfer. The organization is concerned with environmental issues-to create awareness for the sustainable management of the environment. In this regard the organization is involved in carrying out programmes and activities that include monitoring and enforcement , regulatory, information, gathering and management and dissemination of relevant information to other stakeholders in the environment sector, policy makers and planners, research fellows and the general public. The ultimate goal is to reach everybody with environmental information that will enhance and encourage the citizenry to cultivate the practice of good and positive habits for the sustainability of the environment.

Lauren Trees's picture

Thanks Agnes. I think a lot of our members are looking for ways to transfer knowledge beyond organizational boundaries to partners, suppliers, customers, other stakeholders, and the public. In terms of public knowledge exchange, some government agencies that APQC has studied have very advanced practices. For example, in addition to a robust internal knowledge transfer program, NASA uses a variety of channels to reach out externally, including a public Web site, YouTube videos, podcasts available through iTunes, Facebook profiles for spacecraft, frequent blog and Twitter posts, and a partnership with Second Life. The strategy is to reach out through well-known Web sites and applications so people can access NASA information without changing their online behavior. If you're interested, you can read more about NASA’s efforts here.


Lauren Trees, KM Knowledge Specialist, APQC

Khali Mbuthuma's picture

Will the succession planning be part of knowledge transfer ? In an organisation where succession plan is not part of the strategy, what would be the first step to introduce this ?.

Elsie's picture

Hi Lauren,

Yes, my organization does emphasize knowledge capture and transfere. Employees come to the organization without knowledge, when the organization has developed the employees by spending money in their growth such as seminars, workshops and specific training etc.

Employees become an asset of the organization with the core skills they have acquired and if the knowledge is only known and applied by those specific individuals then this is tacit knowledge. It is very much important to do the knowledge capture and transfer so that tacit knowledge is made explicit knowledge.

Knowledge capture and transfer should be defined above the work flow with a clear direction and vision. There should be a project responsible for creating the knowledge capture and transfer and that will be work in the work flow. The knowledge capture and transfer can be executed by making use of Process control manuals.

The challenges:
• Costing is one of the challenges for implementing the knowledge capture and transfer.
• Are human resources with the core skills availability? Yes they might be available and they need to come together to do the process control manuals.
• It can be a challenge to move the core skills together in order to develop the process control manual.
• The unavailability of the core skills will affect the project completion date.

Lauren Trees's picture

@Khali—Yes, succession management is definitely an element of knowledge transfer strategy. Best-practice organizations use a range of tools and approaches to ensure that successors have access to job-related knowledge, including handoff documents, knowledge audits, mentoring programs, and structured interviews. You can read more about this in our free article Key Approaches for Knowledge Retention and Transfer.

@Elsie—Many of our members are focused on taking tacit knowledge, making it explicit, and then making it accessible to the rest of the work force. I agree that some processes for knowledge capture and transfer must necessarily be above the workflow, but that the resulting knowledge assets should be available to employees in the flow of their daily activities. This January, APQC hosted a fantastic community call where expert Gary Colet talked about using knowledge elicitation interviews to make tacit knowledge explicit. We have a recording and slides from the call in our Knowledge Base. Gary is also teaching a workshop at our KM conference this April (you can get the details on that here, just scroll down to the class called "Knowledge Elicitation: An Approach to Retain Valuable Knowledge").

Lauren Trees, KM Knowledge Specialist, APQC

Elsie's picture

Hi Lauren, Thanks for the feedback and the links/source you recommended. I am definitely looking forward to going through them.

Khali Mbuthuma's picture

Thank you for the feedback and suggested readings. In one of APQC's articles (Cindy and Carla in New Edge in Knowledge) suggest it is best to build the strategic KM approach in advance of the problem. However in reality most organizations are more reactive to the problems than proactive. The emphases are on creating a sharing culture to promote knowledge retention. I think the culture of knowledge sharing requires an ability to manage diversity, which may be very complex. Do you then first manage the diversity and then create the knowledge sharing culture or the two are not related?

Lauren Trees's picture

Thanks for your feedback Khali! Regarding your first comment: In The New Edge in Knowledge, Carla and Cindy do recommend starting with a comprehensive KM strategy, rather than creating tools and approaches ad hoc. However, they state that the KM team should formulate its business case by talking to senior executives and finding out what’s keeping them up at night. The KM strategy and business case should always focus on key problems and/or opportunities within the business, so in that way it is "reactive" to circumstances on the ground.

Regarding the second part: I think managing diversity is necessarily going to be part of maintaining a knowledge-sharing culture, it doesn’t come before or after. Organizations where employees feel empowered to ask questions and share knowledge are generally more inclusive, emphasizing that everyone’s voice is important. Tactics can be as simple as making sure that Webinar schedules consider different time zones, or they can be as complicated as finding ways to promote collaboration across generational and cultural lines. But best-practice organizations design their KM approaches in a way that allows diverse audiences to interact and collaborate effectively. Our white paper Promoting Collaboration Across Physical, Structural, and Conceptual Boundaries talks about this in detail.

Lauren Trees, KM Knowledge Specialist, APQC

veremue's picture

Knowledge management and transfer are critical for all organisations. How do you introduce it to third world nations where it is not existant?

Jim Lee's picture

All, thanks for your interest in knowledge transfer; it's a key that topic that we've been working on recently. In fact, because of the interest, we've included a 1.5 day workshop on knowledge elicitation and transfer during the training portion of our upcoming KM Conference. You can find more details here Beyond that, the rigor of knowledge transfer has also been aided by a strategy specifically targeting how to identify what are best or good practices, and the processes that need to be designed and sustained to ensure usage.

For @Edmore, yours is an interesting observation, although I might suggest that while knowledge management may not be present in the developing nations, certainly knowledge transfer--particularly through oral means, stories, etc.--have always, will always occur. It may simply be a need to expose such cultures to the more formal, visible, programmatic ways of knowledge management.

csinotte's picture

Lauren, my organization also focuses on knowledge capture and transfer. We developed a software product that uses procedures in order to capture job knowledge. Procedures contain relevant job knowledge information about how employees perform their work and clearly spell out the jobs that they're responsible for. This allows knowledge assets to be made available to them in their day to day activities. I recently published a blog article about this topic:
I'm looking forward to reading your future articles about knowledge capture and transfer.