Management Knowledge Transfer: Hands-On


I just returned from the ATD international conference. It seems like ATD is stuck somewhere around 2008. Very little has changed and there was definitely frustration from other attendees as well. This year felt especially vendor-first. The presentations lacked anything tangible and once again just set the stage for future purchases. Finally, the keynotes didn't seem exceptionally relevant. But, that's just me and I hope others found it was useful.

Talking with many other attendees, a very clear concern came across: Management knowledge transfer. Without any coaxing, over 10 people brought this up as a huge concern. In most instances, it was the #1 concern. There was very little talk about this from the presentations I attended. Talking with a couple CLOs, we talked about the importance of this topic especially in tandem with trying to drive the business forward in various new directions. Talking with CLOs about this almost made them pass out from the overwhelming tasks in front of them. This led to discussions of creating hands-on training where soon-to-be retiring executives are matched with 4 other managers for a day or two of training. They loved the idea. Let's look at this in more detail…

Management Knowledge Transfer: Hands-On

One CLO and I talked in depth about solutions we have provided to other companies that have been facing the aging management earlier than most. The solution looks like this (very simplified overview. There are TONS more details to be reviewed):

- 1/5th of a training attendees are very experienced managers and/or executives that have expressed their desire to retire somewhere in the near future. The remaining participant list are mid-level managers.
- In most cases a total of approximately 250 participants are targeted, but this is completely dependent on the size of the company.
- A specialized invite-only training program is created with special emphasis on 'know-the-business' curriculum and corporate strategy level business acumen.
- Hands-on Tailored or Custom Business Simulation is created in order to setup real-life challenges for the teams to work through together.
- A significant amount of reflection and sharing is encouraged.
- A way to routinely capture experience and knowledge is created.
- A way to be able to share and reference this knowledge is created.

No doubt that this is not a small project. On the other-hand, it is also very achievable. Each company is different in the way to capture, store, and share knowledge. But in the end, hands-on experience sharing in real-life situations is a great way to transfer knowledge organically. This is natural, engaging, and exceptionally useful to teach leadership, enterprise specific business acumen, and collaboration.

These solutions have been in place for a number of years now and the feedback has been overwhelmingly good from both managers and executives. Does this completely solve the brain drain? Probably not, but it is a very good step in the right direction. Feel free contact us if you have questions on this. Happy to help.

The biggest takeaway from this is: Creating real-life centered leadership training program where participants can run a business hands-on side-by-side with executives is an exceptionally effective way to transfer experience and knowledge. Participants love it and it just works exceptionally well.