In which I tick off a consultant – (Knowledge Transfer)

Was called to work on another knowledge transfer project where the client is transitioning a series of functions from one office location to another. The people aren’t moving to the new location – just the function; and there is concern that there’s a bunch of knowledge that will just disappear as a result.

A consultant from another firm has been serving as the primary lead for this project team; and I have been assigned to develop workshop materials for learners on how to create a specific, practical Knowledge Transfer Plan. These learners have no knowledge on knowledge transfer yet they will eventually be accountable to ensure the transfer occurs as efficiently and effectively as possible.

One of the sections in the workshop is a short (5 minute, tops!) segment on the nature of knowledge as a collection of information assembled within contextual frameworks, which provide meaning to the intended recipient of that knowledge. And boy! was this consultant ticked off … and I wasn’t taking any prisoners on this one …

Consultant: What is this about? It’s too academic.

Me: It’s probably 5-minutes tops and only one and a half pages in the learner guide.

Consultant: But you don’t need to include this at all.

Me: So, they are required to create a knowledge transfer plan but they won’t have any idea on what knowledge is? That’s a sure way to set them up for failure.

Consultant: They’ll know because I’ll tell them.

Me: But you’re just doing the pilot. When you’re gone there’s no guarantee the message you give will stay the same in later versions. Remember the game of telephone?

Consultant: I don’t think it’s necessary.

Me: Based on what data so far? I mean, how do you know whether this information is or isn’t necessary?

Consultant: Because we have a knowledge transfer system that automatically prompts them.

Me: To do or think what? It’s an old knowledge management system that is dressed up with the word ‘transfer.’

(That’s when I crossed the line, I think)


But this thing gets me so mad … when other companies and consultants push their old, tired, worn out KM system or approach and just re-label it as knowledge transfer because that’s what’s in vogue right now.  Ya know … you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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4 Responses to In which I tick off a consultant – (Knowledge Transfer)

  1. nkilkenny says:

    Maybe, I’m reading too much into this, but that guy sounds like sort of a dunkoff. Can they explain their rationale? That’s too bad. I’d be mad too. Ugh sounds like the consultant has oversimplified things… maybe to make sure it looks like what they’re doing is ‘streamlined.’ Can he provide an introduction and the let them know that the additional KT information is elsewhere? Has he taken into account that he can’t possibly provide all tribal knowledge from the original users?

  2. Pingback: The offending section (that ticked off the consultant) « Learn-Learn-Learn

  3. Rory says:

    nkilkenny – Hi there! thanks for commenting.
    How are you, by the way?

    On the one hand I think there was a territorial issue here on the part of the consultant.

    But I think the biggest problem was that this organization’s knowledge management system, which they were promoting its use and which is just dressed up as a knowledge transfer system, just doesn’t accommodate the idea of collecting contexts which provide real meaning.

  4. Jude Roland says:

    Exactly what is a “dunkoff” – Some American doughnut-related insult? Or is it meant to be the German word “dummkopf”?

    Most of the above comes across as two male egos clashing. A conversation with the consultant – before creating a separate piece of communication – could have raised and clarified all the issues and avoided this unproductive confrontation. You should both be on the same side, trying to achieve the best outcome for your people and your company – not fighting or trying “score points”.

    Perhaps we do things a bit differently in Britain? And maybe we also try to avoid some of the jargon and buzz words. After all, “knowledge transfer” just means sharing ideas, facts and techniques. Discussing. Drawing on and comparing experience. Take a look at

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