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Knowledge Transfer

As people leave our organizations, there is a risk that their knowledge will leave with them.  Succession planning can limit the amount of knowledge loss, especially in critical positions.  It is a good practice to identify how institutional knowledge in your organization is captured and shared with others to help limit your risk.


Graphic of knowledge transfer model connecting knowledge transfer practices, retention strategies, and organizational strategy. 

(Adapted from DeLong Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce)


Types of Knowledge

Through using the Knowledge Mapping Questions Word version or PDF version the organization can better determine the types of knowledge held in various positions.

Block with the words explicit inside.
  • Definition

    Explicit knowledge is information that is easily captured.  This information is often agency policy and procedures and can be found in charts, operations manuals, or other documented sources.  Documenting processes is the first step in transferring this type of knowledge.

  • Knowledge Transfer Practices
    Review Knowledge Transfer Strategies, Word version or PDF version, to determine how to best transfer knowledge.  Then use the Sample Knowledge Transfer Grid, Word Version or PDF version, to create an action plan.

    • Documentation & Procedures
      • Checklists, Inventories or Flow Charts
      • Manuals
    • Concept Mapping
    • Interviews & Debriefing
      • Exit & Knowledge Holder
    • Training
    • Agency/Site/Department Expert
    • Contractors, Part-Timers, Retirees
    • On-Line Learning  
      • Knowledge Database
      • Best Practice Database
      • Conference Calls
    • Webinars

Block with the word implicit inside.
  • Definition
    Implicit knowledge is information that people hold in their heads.  This type of knowledge usually includes culture and is often hard to transfer.  Assisting employees in recognizing what information they are “experts” in and helping them share this information with others is an important part of knowledge transfer.
  • Knowledge Transfer Practices
    Review Knowledge Transfer Strategies, Word version or PDF version, to determine how to best transfer knowledge.  Then use the Sample Knowledge Transfer Grid, Word version or PDF version, to create an action plan.

    • Mentoring/Coaching
      • Individual or Group Mentoring
      • Consultants
    • Communities of Practice
    • Job Sharing
      • Shadowing Assignments
      • Apprenticeship/Internships/Traineeship
      • Rotational Assignments
    • Simulation Environment Training
    • OJT/Cross-training
    • Storytelling
    • After-Action Reviews



Retention Strategy
Block with words knowledge recovery initiatives.
  • Definition

        If your talent has moved on here are some key strategies to bring back knowledge.

  • Strategies

    • Using Retirees Effectively
    • Outsourcing 
    • Regenerating Knowledge

Block with the words IT application to capture, store, and share knowledge.strategies
  • Strategies

    • Connecting people through online technologies
    • Accelerating learning through online courses and resources
    • Capturing knowledge through documented policies and procedures
    • Knowledge mapping



Organizational Strategy

Block with words human resources processes and practices.strategies
  • Strategies

    • Systems for documenting KSA's and technical competencies
    • Succession planning/career development processes
    • Building a "retention culture"
    • Policies to retain older workers