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.