Ensuring that the New is Better than the Old: Leveraging knowledge transfer strategies to facilitate change
You’ve come to a fork in the road – you’ve announced a sizable change at your organization. You’ve put resources and strategies in place to support the transition, and at this juncture, employees are now aware of whether they have a role in the new organizational structure. So, now what? The implementation of the new process, system, and/or organization is going to take time. It could be months, quarters, even a year before all is said and done. And through all of this, work still needs to be done AND in parallel, the people who will staff the new or modified organization need to be recruited and prepared to take on their new roles.
Setting aside the challenges of identifying the skills, experience and talent desired for roles of the new organization, let’s consider the underpinning of effective and successful transition: knowledge transfer. There are several components to developing a knowledge transfer plan but they fall neatly into three phases: discovery, identification and mitigation of gaps, and finally delivery.
The focus during discovery is understanding all of the stakeholders (perhaps by name or by group) who will be impacted by the change. You began building your stakeholder matrix during the very early days of communication strategy planning, but this is the time to drill down and tag every person, group and role impacted by the change. It is also critical to better understand the processes that may be changing and transitioning, and the systems and technology that support the execution of that work. Here are some questions to consider in each of these three areas:
Stakeholders – Do you need their expertise in an essential technology or process? Can they serve as an SME or trainer? Do they manage people who will be assuming new responsibilities in new roles or even transitioning out of the company? Are they an internal or external customer of the output of the transitioning organization – a customer? Do they have the skills and experience to tackle the new assignment?
Processes – what processes are integral to getting the work done, and are they effective? Who knows how the work gets done-in other words, are the processes documented? Do you have a vision for a future-state that is substantially different from today?
Systems and Technology – Are your processes and people dependent on software or equipment? Will any of these be changing as part of your overall plan? Since technology, operating systems, software and applications change regularly – what’s your plan to support the new organization, will your current infrastructure be adequate, how long will it take to get these resources in place?
When you’ve completed discovery, you’ll have the fundamental information in hand to determine what people are going to need in order to meet the new organizational expectations. Now it’s time to use the knowledge transfer plan the questions above have informed to carry out the vision.
Identification and Mitigation Phase
By analyzing the current state processes, you can determine how they compare to your future-state vision, consider the severity of the gaps, assess whether the gaps should be addressed prior to transition or after, and of course, how to re-mediate the gaps. Given all of the change that’s in play, is there an appetite for changing the work flow and possibly identifying and investing in new systems or technology? What metrics do leaders expect to be in place and reported to assess the effectiveness of the revised or new processes?
By methodically considering your learning from previous phases, your knowledge transfer plan will evolve around the delivery of following elements:
- Transition timeline and calendar;
- On-boarding new employees and/or transitioning current employees to the new organization;
- Developing and delivering training sessions on the new process, technology and systems;
- Creating resources that will serve as references such as handbooks, process maps, quick reference guides, and on-line training;
- Job-shadowing schedules for certain employees.
The skills to pull all of this together are numerous. Besides great organizational expertise and experience, consider creativity to develop work-arounds, flexibility to deal with hiccups in the transition, resolve to address the somewhat inevitable resistance to change, and leadership to keep the organization focused on the goals and benefits of the new organization. It’s these skills that can truly ensure successful and strongly supported organizational change within your organization.
Monica Morgan | Consultant | TayganPoint Consulting Group | firstname.lastname@example.org