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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Who Sets Your Standards for Knowledge Capture?

just grabbing information is not enough for knowledge transfer

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Capturing the knowledge contained within an organization and making it available in an effective format has long been a role of training departments. This can go beyond formal training on procedures, say, to the more subtle knowledge that experienced employees bring to their work.

True, the knowledge capture and transfer roles are often unrecognized, and almost always under-resourced. At some companies, it may seem that technology has come to the rescue. It is much easier to clip questions and answers from e-mails and various in-house resources and almost automatically build a searchable "knowledgebase" or a series of "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQs). Managers and employees supposedly can find out by themselves how to handle situations or execute processes by accessing your intranet.

And there's the rub. If ease and efficiency take precedence over effective structure, you may be wasting a lot of effort on building a tool that fewer and fewer employees will use, over time.

After all, I'm sure that you have personally used the knowledgebase and FAQ pages of various sites and software vendors, or other types of service providers. How have you enjoyed those experiences? Did you get good answers?

How many times have you visited a site for some online service or software product and found it impossible to figure out what it does, or how it works?

Oh, these sites have lots of results when you search. That's the problem. They automatically index everything, regardless of relevance, regardless of whether there's enough context for that snippet of information to be useful to the next person who comes along. One software service I use relies on that kind of "help system." Plug any word into their search box, and you'll get page after page of results, most of them providing very little useful information.

They think they have mastered the "knowledge capture" process. But they are more aware of what technology can do than they are of what people should do, with knowledge, and so they fall short on the "knowledge transfer" part of the process.

Good trainers know that choosing what information to leave out is often just as important as deciding what to include. Sharing everything imaginable is rarely effective, especially at the beginning levels of any topic, and few experienced training professionals would make that mistake in the classroom.

But it is easy to make that mistake online, to let the ease of "capture" provided by today's technology overwhelm the need to sculpt that raw block of knowledge into comprehensible form. It's a mistake that is easy to make because instead of getting feedback from shrugs and blank stares of participants in the classroom, you will get silence. The people who suffer from these technological shortcuts, the ones who are looking for answers, will give up and try to get their jobs done without the benefit of the knowledge you have captured for them.

Technology is a wonderful thing. But it doesn't really think, and it shouldn't drive decisions about what knowledge is available to employees and how they should get it.

Those decisions are your job.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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