In continuation to my earlier blog on Knowledge Harvesting - I would like to put forth the ways and means of capturing implicit knowledge.
My earlier blog ends with the following Statement - "Much of the success of knowledge harvesting will be in the ability of the interviewer to elicit the right level of detail from the expert. He or she should not immediately assume that the reasoning behind certain approaches or tasks is not discernable. Often, it is necessary to guide an expert through their own thought process, though the steps used to arrive at conclusions that the 'expert' believes are tacit or invisible."
The best way to capture implicit knowledge is to interview the experts face-to-face. Ask them to talk about what they do and to describe specific situations where they have applied specific know-how. This may sound easy.
Lets have a step by step approach:
Build rapport - This is something you do throughout the eliciting process. Rapport makes it easier by helping one to create trust and credibility which makes the contributor more comfortable sharing what they know; and also allows the common thinking processes which are heard during the discussion to emerge. These aspects of building rapport results in time savings and quality of the knowledge transfer.
Organise the harvesting meeting - During the session, it should be made clear to him/ her that he/ she has been identified by the top management as a contributor on that specific topic; The individual should know that you are here to help make the process of capturing and leveraging this knowledge easier; The individual should know that you recognise that he/ she is valuable and you want to take up only that which is necessary to capture key know-how; You need to provide an overview of the whole process - like the duration of the meeting; how the meeting will be conducted; expected results, etc.; Try to get as much feedback about the meeting.
One can even use a recorder for capturing the conversation - but it should be done in concurrence with the contributor.
Guide and encourage - Nurturing the discussion of knowledge that the contributor has but does not know they have or know how to articulate. You need to act as a catalyst to spur what is 'natural' that which is inside the person's head lying unexpressed. Eliciting is about prompting knowledge to come out.
Knowledge capturing - You can start with some general question and slowly move on to the specific ones. But one should remember that its very important to collect - the flow of process (step by step description); Relationships (to other people and job, to include all interfaces and connections); Resources used like documents, information or people referenced in the process - to know the know-how and the facilitators involved; and finally the systems and tools used.
We can say the process of capturing is complete only when you have collected enough for the target learners to perform the work with the aid of the information alone.
Maintain good etiquette - Never interrupt. When the contributor speaks you need to show your keenness in knowing what he is describing, by your body language. During the course of knowledge capturing, if ideas pop up in your head, jot them down and ask later.
Handle resistance - You are likely to face resistance from time to time. Some people may come forward and share their knowledge willingly or due to the pressure from the top. In both the cases, the contributor may have a difficult time communicating what they know.
Understanding the nature of resistance is very important - do they have a sense of insecurity of job or power? or is it simply a matter of not having the time? are they aware of the value of the excercise?. Once you understand this problem you can begin to build rapport and overcome resistance. I hope this blog will aid the reader to have a good sense of what to do.