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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.Albert Einstein

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Disseminating your best practices

Disseminating your best practices

How to spread a technique that has proven successful locally to the entire organization? The answer can be learned from the example of companies that have successfully disseminated their know-how.

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Why is it so difficult to transfer skills from one operational unit to another? How is it that a good practice, proven to work in one place, proves to be catastrophic when deployed in the rest of the organization?

Admittedly, knowledge management has improved considerably in recent years. The development of information technologies has enabled companies to professionalize the transfer of knowledge. Centralized databases now make it possible for everyone in the company to take advantage of the knowledge and experience acquired by individuals or teams concerning a customer or a tool, for example. Expert forums also facilitate the smooth flow of information. Business organizations have thus made real strides in terms of sharing their know-how.

That being said, transferring know-how remains a challenge. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that most attempts to replicate exemplary practices from one point to another in a business generate more problems than benefits. A study cited in the article Getting It Right the Second Time observes, for example, that only 12 % of leaders are satisfied with the transmission of skills from one unit to another!

In fact, a large part of the problem lies in the nature of what companies attempt to transfer. Knowledge can be easily shared via a structured database, provided it is regularly updated and rigorously managed. Certain types of simple know-how can be transferred very well from team to team using detailed manuals to describe the required operations.

On the other hand, transferring best practices that entail more complex or tacit knowledge is much more delicate. Production systems typically depend not only on tools, but also on a whole ecosystem of skills, work conditions, mindset or an original customer approach. The authors we have analyzed underline that it takes much more than developing documentation and communicating on remarkable practices to enable teams to transpose this subtle mix to their own environment.

Synopsis n.231a


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