Archive for October, 2014

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: Knowledge Brief: More than Just a Succession Tool

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Knowledge Brief: More than
Just a Succession Tool

Alignment solution: The knowledge brief is a mechanism by which to transfer information about jobs, offer key insights that are otherwise unavailable, and provide important side benefits to the organization.

A critical element of a succession process is capturing and sharing institutional knowledge. Developing mechanisms to do that is especially urgent today, as vital information walks out the door when employees leave the organization. Without a way to transfer this knowledge in a timely manner, those who step into their jobs often find themselves reinventing the proverbial wheel.

A knowledge brief is a concise (2-3 page) document that describes an individual’s personal experience with his/her job and offers suggestions about how to prepare for success. It is one of a myriad of ways to capture and transfer knowledge. Depending on how you gather the information, this mechanism can have numerous positive side effects as well, such as identifying “knowledge enablers” that accelerate successful learning, enhancing your career planning process, providing realistic job previews for recruiters and internal candidates, and educating your employees about jobs throughout the organization.

Several years ago I developed a knowledge transfer process for a client as part of its succession process. The knowledge briefs have three sections: information about the job (e.g., key learning points, purpose, impact on the mission), the incumbent’s experience in the job (e.g., most valued aspect, biggest surprise, hardest thing to learn, best advice to successor), and how to prepare for success in the job.

Although I conducted the interviews and wrote the reports, you can increase the value of the knowledge brief process tremendously by training employees, retirees, and/or interns to perform the interviews and write the documents. Interviewers have an opportunity to connect personally with individuals throughout the organization, become educated about what it does, and develop valuable communication, interviewing, and writing skills. The process also benefits the interviewees, who are required to think about what makes their jobs meaningful to them, what people and things have enabled their success, and how they can ensure a smooth transition when they move on. The personal insights provided by the briefs help employees understand how various jobs contribute to the organization’s success.

Here’s how you can establish an effective knowledge brief process:

  1. Identify an executive-level champion for the process who will ensure its success.
  2. Identify the jobs to address and the individuals to be interviewed.
  3. Develop the interview questions and the knowledge brief template.
  4. Identify the interviewers: employees, retirees, interns.
  5. Train the interviewers in interviewing skills, how to record information accurately and completely, and writing skills. TRAINING IS KEY TO SUCCESS. 
  6. Set up a simple tracking system.
  7. Conduct the interviews.
  8. Write up the briefs.
  9. Verify the information with the interviewees.
  10. Make the briefs readily available to all employees and others as appropriate (e.g., recruiters).

In today’s dynamic, learning-driven environment, your organization’s success depends in part on the extent to which you have an effective knowledge transfer process in place. Knowledge briefs can contribute to that end by educating your employees as well as fueling interest in key jobs throughout your organization.

If you would like to see a sample knowledge brief, please contact me.


To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

Alignment Solutions Newsletter: How to Remove or Mitigate Predictable Obstacles to Organizational Effectiveness

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

How to Remove or Mitigate Predictable Obstacles to Organizational Effectiveness

Alignment solution: Leaders and business owners can significantly increase the likelihood of achieving their goals when they remove or mitigate predictable obstacles to their administrative plans and initiatives, particularly those on the strategic level.

During my early years at FedEx (1979-1990), I sometimes felt like I was working in the era of the U.S. wild West. There were very few corporate policies and procedures, and employees had a lot of latitude to get our jobs done. Even those of us in staff positions were focused on operations, and we were committed to achieving our “Absolutely, positively overnight” mission. The company’s growth rates were off the charts, and I couldn’t wait to go to work every day.

However, with the company’s success came greater organizational complexity that required attention to administrative issues. Written policies and procedures appeared, and though they chafed at those of us used to the freedom of achieving success our way, the company’s future depended on paying attention to administrative issues as well as operational ones. The wild West era was over.

Organizations go through a predictable growth cycle. Those that succeed are the ones that are able to make the transition from start-up to a more mature business. A critical success factor is the willingness and ability to devise ways to function effectively and efficiently. This requires a shift in focus from operations alone to administrative issues as well. Aligning people, programs, processes, and systems throughout the organization requires taking a strategic perspective. Developing and implementing the mechanisms to support the company’s continued growth, such as an organizational strategy and a succession process, become key.

Making the shift from an operations focus to a broader perspective that encompasses administrative issues may be difficult. I often hear managers complain that they are too busy doing the “real work” to handle administrative matters such as developing the next generation of leaders, or conducting performance appraisals, or even providing constructive feedback. In addition, many cite a myriad of reasons for not attending to the administrative side of their job – which for managers often IS the job. Ranging from lack of time and interest to not knowing what to do, these explanations will not surprise you. Given that these issues are entirely predictable, they need not become obstacles to organizational effectiveness.

Categorized into four groups, here are some of the predictable obstacles to successful implementation of administrative plans and initiatives, along with ideas about how to address them.

Category Predictable Obstacles How to Remove/Mitigate the Obstacles
 
Priorities No resources (money, equipment) Communicate clearly to decision-makers the impact on organizational goals of insufficient resources and/or support
  No time Consider the heavy costs of ineffective and/or inefficient use of resources
  No stakeholder support Educate your stakeholders about what’s in it for them to support administrative initiatives
 
Education No interest Tell stakeholders what’s in it for them; co-create a compelling “big picture”
  Low Priority Present decision-makers with realistic options of the impact on the business when there are insufficient resources
  Not seen as part of mission “Connect the dots” between the mission and initiatives that enable effective, efficient use of resources
     
Know-how Don’t know why Create a clear “big picture” of the mission and consider the impact of insufficient resources and support
  Don’t know what Find an internal or external expert to help
  Don’t know how Have an expert create a detailed, results-oriented implementation plan
     
Accountability No accountability mechanisms Develop measures of progress and achievement; impose consequences for non-performance
  No ownership Invite meaningful stakeholder input into initiatives; identify a champion who is willing and able to see the initiative through to completion
  No sustainability Build the necessary behaviors, steps, actions into organizational culture, norms, and infrastructure

In short, business success requires leaders to embrace the administrative aspects of the work they do, and to remove or mitigate the obstacles to organizational effectiveness and efficiency. The organization’s future is on the line.

For those who may find it difficult to ask others for help with administrative or other issues, take a look at my article 6 Steps to Asking For and Receiving Help.


To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com and my blog at www.OptimizeBusinessResults.com.


Alignment Solutions is a concise, bi-weekly newsletter written specifically to help organizational leaders optimize their business results. Your e-mail address is never shared with anyone for any reason. You may unsubscribe by clicking the link on the bottom of this e-mail.

Click here to Join Our Mailing List!

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© 2014 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.