Resources for Knowledge Continuity

Five nuggets from various sources to help you in your knowledge continuity efforts (ie making sure your organisation keeps critical knowledge in flow while people come and people go).

This piece by William Rothwell is five years old but nicely captures twelve key strategies for knowledge continuity presented in a clear and practical way (thanks Yvonne). Rothwell is the author of the book Effective Succession Planning, which is also worth checking out for its knowledge-based approach.

Courtesy of the National Health Service’s KM resources library (have you taken the survey that might keep it alive yet?) this is a knowledge capture exit interview questionaire from the the UK’s Police IT Organisation. It’s got some great questions, such as “Who needs to know what you know (apart from your successor)?” “What do you wish you had known when you started the job?”.

Here is a knowledge capture form from a pioneering mega-project in a government agency – they will probably not do this type of project again in the span of duty of the current team, but other government agencies might, so they want to try to pin down the subtler experience/expertise elements that would not normally be captured in project documents or formal lessons learned. They have taken some of Gary Klein’s cognitive task analysis interview techniques and created a really nice and simple capture format. Thanks Doreen!

Over at the Cognitive Edge guest blog, Terry Miller blogged the other day on the “between the gaps” knowledge that people hold (this links to the notion of invisible work referenced by Gordon Rae in my Black Knowledge Economy post a while back).

Here’s what Terry says:
“Structured ordered planning processes, especially within systems under pressure, have a bias to view people as inputs to processes and outputs. Fill in these boxes and report back to me. What’s missing is what is going on in the spaces between those people and processes. What’s not in the binders (I’m being only somewhat facetious here) is a chapter on the importance of hidden knowledge and emotional status of these same players. How about a tab or two devoted to guidelines and templates for gathering stories, mining for metaphors, analysing the social network et al et al. Can you imagine?”

For me, in knowledge continuity this means devising even better ways of asking questions and collecting contextualised evidence of critical knowledge. The resources I’ve included here point in the right direction, but I’m sure there’s a lot more ingenuity to be brought to bear!

Finally, extending the theme of invisible work, Barry Schwartz in this
wonderful TED talk, asks whether the key to this invisible work (and maybe also – I’m wondering – to its continuity) lies in a recovery of a sense of virtue (or as he puts it, “practical wisdom” ) .

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