January 2008 SIKM Call - Kent Greenes on Facilitated Better Practice Transfer #peer-assist #monthly-call #proven-practice #knowledge-transfer

Stan Garfield

TO: SIKM Leaders Community


Today we held our 32nd monthly call.  Here is a summary.



  1. Patti Anklam
  2. Dale Arseneault
  3. Stephanie Barnes
  4. Lynn Busby
  5. Jim Coogan
  6. Raj Datta
  7. Art De Villar
  8. Stan Garfield
  9. Andrew Gent
  10. Kent Greenes
  11. Emily Hoelting
  12. John Hovell
  13. Linda Hummel
  14. Gian Jagai
  15. Bill Kaplan
  16. Karen Lyons
  17. Doug Madgic
  18. Ken Martin
  19. John McQuary
  20. Mark Neff
  21. Grace Pennington
  22. Kate Pugh
  23. Chris Riemer
  24. Kevin Roth
  25. Tom Short
  26. Chuck Stewart
  27. Erick Thompson
  28. Jack Vinson
  29. Rick Wallace
  30. Steve Wieneke
  31. Dianna Wiggins

The call featured Kent Greenes on Facilitated Better Practice Transfer.  His presentation is available at Greenes_Facilitated BPT_SIKM_Jan 2008.ppt.

The call was recorded.  Thanks to Kent for presenting.  Here are some comments from the participants: "Good call."  "Outstanding presentation by Kent."  "Good call today."

You can continue the discussion by replying to this thread or starting a new one such as Dale's post.


Future Calls

  • February 19, 2008: Crystal Prince of EDS - "Communities at EDS"
  • March 18, 2008: John McQuary of Fluor - "Results from the Knowvember Campaign"
  • April 15, 2008: Jim Coogan of Boeing - "KM at Boeing"
  • May 20, 2008: Stacie Jordan of Accenture - "Collaboration efforts at Accenture"
  • June 17, 2008: Barry Dayton of 3M - "KM at 3M"
  • July 15, 2008:  Steve Wieneke of GM - "Knowing What to Know"
  • August 19, 2008: Bernadette Boas - "Day in the Life Business Workflow"
  • September 16, 2008: Hubert Saint-Onge - "Collaboration and the New Enterprise"
  • October 21, 2008: Richard McDermott - "Developing, Deepening and Retaining Expertise"
  • November 18, 2008: John Hovell of ManTech - "KM at ManTech International"
  • December 16, 2008: Andrew Gent of HP - "KM at HP"

Dale Arseneault <dalearseneault@...>

I really enjoyed the conference call with Kent today, and his presentation.

A few of my key takeaways:

  • "Best" or "better" practices are adopted, they're adapted.
  • A very interesting quote: "You don't have a better or best practice until someone else is using it." - Jack Welch
  • The leaner is important, and making learning (identifying, accessing and adapting) easy is critical, or people will re-create "good enough."
  • There is high value in focusing on general, broadly applicable practices first, rather than choosing highly specialized practices.
  • Peer Assist is a critical tool to begin, and even conclude, the process.
  • Uncover success stories, communicate the stories, and assist learning and adaption process.
  • Facilitation is critical to the process - both the role and the capability.
  • Documentation / video / audio artefacts are the starting point for discovery and productive conversation - it is vital to put people with the learning needs and the people who have the leveragable practices together to enable transfer.
  • To facilitate discovery of best/better practices, short (<1 page) descriptions, podcasts, video clips, appropriately tagged and highly findable are useful.
  • Leverage communities wherever possible - knowledge transfer is what these forms are all about.

If I think about Tom Davenport's work in Thinking for a Living and his classification structure for knowledge-intensive processes, and some of Richard McDermott's ideas in Learning the Master's Art,  it would seem that not all types of knowledge/knowledge work are appropriate, or suitable, for best practices transfer.

If you subscribe to the notion that expertise is the ability to improvise effectively in previously un-encountered situations, or around new / novel / different problems, it seems that BPT doesn't really apply - unless, as Kent mentioned in the presentation, a learning conversation with the "learner" and the "contributor" is facilitated.  But this strikes me more as developing new knowledge rather than transferring knowledge. 

A practical situation. A while back, I did facilitate some interesting, experimental conversations.  Organizations have specific policies around employee leave - vacation, bereavement etc. - often rooted in legislation.  Organizations generally extend these legislated minimums as part of a career value proposition, presenting managers the opportunity to apply "discretion."  HR organizations create guidelines to help managers make equitable decisions for their staff.  The problem is that discretion falls squarely in a "gray zone" and over time, aggregated across multiple workgroups, tends to diverge significantly.

So I organized a number of large group "conversations" with managers around progressively complicated case studies.  In each case breakout groups of managers considered the cases, made a group decision, and presented the decision to the whole group.  The large group was comprised of a heterogeneous mix of new mangers, experienced managers, experienced managers new to the organization, and HR professionals with expertise in policy and acquainted with broad policy challenges across the organization.

The twist was that I asked each group to make explicit their thinking process - how they defined the problem, how they approached the situation, key considerations, sources of valid information (e.g. past experiences) what information/considerations were dismissed and why etc.   The notion was that through involvement in numerous conversations about the case studies, more equitable application of discretion would emerge over time.

Based on feedback from participants, it seems like there is merit in continuing the conversations, and merit in forming a "better practice" thinking model/approach, and making it available, perhaps supported by a managers community of practice.

So, in the case of expertise/deep smarts, perhaps there is a way to transfer some degree of best practice after all.

Dale Arseneault