Preservation of Expert Knowledge

Let’s start by assuming the premise that when we speak of expert knowledge we are talking about the domain of practice, subject, or technology that is key to our organization, well …

Knowledge Management

Let’s start by assuming the premise that when talking about expert knowledge we are talking about the domain of practice, subject, or technology that is key to our organization, either because it impacts our current operations, or because it is key to the development of our business in the future.

Additionally, recognize that it is common to find ourselves in situations where there are high levels of key knowledge “expertise” by people of different seniority profiles within our organization.

Assuming both premises, we can clear the age or seniority variable as the protagonist or the determining factor when making knowledge preservation decisions, and in turn expand the focus of attention to develop a formal and systematic strategy in that sense, considering that the preservation of expert knowledge is necessary insofar as:

  • The organization’s business depends largely on the knowledge that is in high demand in the market, which implies volatility in the bonding/permanence of people in our organization (high turnover)
  • The career progression of people requires movements of jobs that require adequate succession.
  • The organizational reconfiguration of our companies (changes in the structure) can also generate changes or movements in jobs.
  • Retirement (or pre-retirement) processes require the removal of people with key know-how for our operations.

Finally, talking about preservation is talking about both systematization and use. Bearing in mind that systematization is a process of “elicitation” (trying to make the expert know-how as explicit as possible) and “compilation” (trying to connect and package the structured/documented knowledge resources of an expert) that serves to leave “traces” or “knowledge products, but that has little impact if it is not complemented with exploitation dynamics in which that systematized knowledge is made available and transferred to the appropriate recipients.

Therefore, it is very important to bear in mind that preserving knowledge is not only a documentation challenge but also a transfer.

So that:

  • Transfer consolidates preservation
  • Preservation and transfer is enhanced by systematization
  • And to systematize well … you have to have a method

Taking into account all of the above, at ICA2 we have proposed a methodological structure to facilitate the deployment of preservation actions that consists of 3 segments:

  1. Preparation: Identify key knowledge domains and candidates to work with. That is, first to know which are the relevant knowledge domains for our organization, and based on this, concentrate efforts with the right people.
  2. Elicitation: Identify the resources of explicit knowledge linked to the expert and try (as far as possible) to systematize or make explicit experiences and relevant know-how (tacit dimension), to create a kind of Knowledge Book  of the expert
  3. Use: Activate the transfer of expert knowledge, through training actions, mentoring, or access/consumption of the pieces of knowledge systematized in the Knowledge Book.

 

Productivity: Teamwork, with knowledge

A work team must not only be integrated and synchronized, but also the people who compose it must share goals, but information, decisions, be also united in a common focus. They must attend to Knowledge Management strategies and seek efficiency in a simple way.

Communities of Practice

Teamwork is clearly essential for any knowledge-intensive organization, the vast majority are, and surely where you are working is. But not “workgroups”, think of a team (such as soccer) where each participant is a fundamental piece with roles, responsibilities, and actions to be carried out.

A work team must not only be integrated and synchronized, but also the people who compose it must share goals, but information, decisions, be also united in a common focus.

Certain conditions must be met for them:

  1. Be informed of the long-term goal.
  2. Be committed to the medium objectives that will allow us to achieve this global focus.
  3. Know what role you play in the strategy to reach them.
  4. Know the progress and scope of your actions, and those of each person with whom you share them.
  5. Have a general plan of the progress of all.

In this sense, it is necessary to have ways to share the knowledge of each one, their contributions and progress, improve the relationship of interdependence, and what can be executed independently.

For this, the ways of acting in a productive way (personal and team) must be structured and broken down, and always thinking about (because we are clear about it):

  1. What the organization needs us to do.
  2. What the team must contribute to the organization.
  3. My contribution in all this and how it meshes with the goals of the team.

We must also be clear that a large part of the strategy (staff/team/organization) must be leveraged mostly in knowledge management, its methodologies, and tools so that it contributes to all of us. This can be seen in the descriptive image shown at the beginning of the article (which we will also discuss in future posts on this blog).

Factors to carry out this work must be understood from two perspectives:

  1. Personal Organization

On an individual basis, important challenges are posed to arrive on time for all our tasks and fulfill the personal and integral functioning of the team itself.

Let us bear in mind that there are specific methodologies and specialized software, among them GTD (Getting Things Done / Doing things / Solving things), for this and other methods of self-organization you must have the intention and only worry about applying it, not being overwhelmed by the technology that should serve you (never vice versa, because adapting to software is not logical, therefore it would not work for you).

  1. The Team Organization

As we anticipated in previous paragraphs, the team must meet a series of requirements to function efficiently (common objectives, clear roles, and tasks, constant communication, synchronization of efforts, interpersonal supports). We will also discuss this in future chapters.

Then, they remain as pending tasks, write in detail about: each element of the graph, personal organization, and team organization.