- Founder and CEO of TrustedPeer
- 30 years professional experience in Internet infrastructure services, telecommunications, business applications, and healthcare applications
- CEO, COO, and CFO for seven technology companies resulting in five acquisitions
- Director of Finance and on IPO Team for Electronic Arts
- SEAL Team 2 - BUD/S Class 99
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
- In large organizations with geographically distributed workforces, it is extremely difficult or impossible for employees to know of valuable knowledge resources that are available to them or how to access them.
Company directories may provide LinkedIn-type information (name, email, title, professional history) but often lack structure and sufficient specificity for employees to search or browse for the right expert by skill-set and one who can provide up-to-date expertise in the proper context. An expertise identification tool is essential to leveraging the human capital of an organization.
- A knowledge management system may steer employees to documented or published expertise within the company, but that information is often of limited value.
Knowledge management systems like SharePoint and Lotus Notes are typically limited in relevance and ability to solve specific problems. Their database of content is often neither current nor comprehensive. They may contain helpful factual information, but that cannot match the value of one-on-one interaction with the expert who authored it.
- Companies do not provide sufficient incentives for internal experts to respond to knowledge seekers.
Organizations should be able to address the question from experts of “what’s in it for me?” by making it clear that participation is part of an employees’s responsibilities and by tying knowledge transfer to leadership visibility and career advancement. Incentives may include monetary rewards, but "psychic rewards" like recognition are also effective. It is often sufficient just to include knowledge sharing as part of an employees’ goals and objectives.
- Companies lack an engagement protocol that facilitates and overcomes the barriers to employees seeking one-on-one interaction with internal experts.
Such a protocol is necessary so that employees understand that they are authorized – and encouraged – to seek the help of someone they don't know within the enterprise. The protocol should facilitate the mechanics of identifying, contacting and engaging appropriately with the right expert.
The employee should be encouraged not to fear that, "I don't know who she is and I don't want to call and bug her. What if I ask a stupid question?" An engagement protocol tells employees: "When you need information to do your job, you're encouraged to reach out to others in the organization to ask a question. And, the expert agrees to answer these questions under a certain set of parameters."
- Companies lack an engagement protocol that allows its internal experts to effectively manage the expertise requests they receive.
Rather than taking cold calls from someone they don't know, your internal experts need a way to filter and process information requests. If an expert on marketing consumer products in Brazil, for example, receives a call or email from someone who says, "I need help with branding in Brazil," the expert doesn't have to say, "Well, I'm kind of busy right now and I can't answer your question. Maybe we can arrange something next week, or the week after that." Instead, the expert can easily say, "Great, use our system for that. Contact me via our company's Expert Link platform."
And if the requester does that, follows procedure and provides the necessary information the expert needs, the engagement moves forward in a structured way that is manageable and effective. If the requester doesn't follow through and define the problem, that shows that they're not worthy of a response.
- If an employee does find the expert he or she needs, the knowledge transfer may be unstructured and inefficient.
Everyone is busy. That only makes it more critical for internal consulting engagements to take advantage of best practices including pre-session communication and issue identification, a structured session agenda, and a post-session wrap-up.
- Internal experts often are not trained in mentoring and how to effectively transfer their knowledge, making a structured engagement process all the more valuable.
Internal experts have gained their expertise "on the job," and they know how to apply it hands-on. That doesn't necessarily mean they know the best ways to share, mentor or teach the expertise. A structured process is needed to guide them through the critical steps of efficient knowledge transfer.
- Even smart companies that understand the value created by knowledge-sharing may lack visibility within the organization as to who is sharing knowledge with whom.
They don't have a way of seeing who is creating value by helping others within the company and that means they can't measure and reward it. The lack of usage metrics limits the company's ability to incentivize its internal experts to respond to knowledge seekers.
- Without a structured engagement process, no record is kept of the knowledge provided by an in-house expert, so it does not get shared when others have a similar need.
Knowledge transfer has the greatest value when it is captured and made available to others. When an enterprise captures knowledge that is transferred, it makes it available for further sharing and re-use.
- Without a system for capturing and cataloguing the requests for expertise within a company, the company is unlikely to address its knowledge gaps in a comprehensive way.
Monitoring and tracking information requests allows a company to identify expertise gaps and take steps to close them.
- Corporate acquisitions make it even more difficult to identify experts and transfer information and know-how.
Mergers and acquisitions often make great strategic sense, but they make the challenge of identifying and communicating knowledge within the organization more challenging. Lack of familiarity, or even distrust, discourages personal interaction between knowledge seekers and providers on opposite side of the merger.