Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does Knowledge Transfer Enhance Process?

Many of the clients I work with think of themselves as 'process driven'. Of course that term has as many definitions as there are organizations. The concept of 'having a process' can go from thinking that maybe there is an ordered, step wise approach to doing something and perhaps we should think about that to having processes so rigid that improvement and innovation are squeezed out of it like juice from an orange.

Most companies live somewhere in between.

Processes are derived for a purpose, they are created to answer a need. Whether they answer that need well is another story. My questions come from asking: "for the sake of what?" What is the need the processes seek to address? I want to know that before I want to know the process, and that is the knowledge I want to discover, explore and transfer.

It is when we are at the core of the issue that we make the difference. And, it is when people understand why they are doing what they do, what the impact of their actions are, that they feel both bought in and informed enough to do true process improvement. Humans are not meant to do tasks just because they are written down and signed off by the management. They are meant to be 'sensemaking' creatures who use their experience, their understanding, their intellect to make sense of the world. If you want the best from them, show them how they can contribute, help them understand where they fit in the big scheme of the system they are working on, give them context and a sense of impact and the permission to think. Not to change the system randomly, but to make good suggestions based on full knowledge.

All of those things are knowledge transfer opportunities which enhance the process, the people, the technology and the culture. Continuous improvement lies in that fertile ground.

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