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Knowledge Capture

1 February 2017
Michal Gil- Peretz

Knowledge capture is a concentrated effort to capture tacit knowledge and transform it to explicit knowledge.

The capturing can take place in regard to an individual or to a group:

  • Individual knowledge capture (also known as knowledge retention) is usually performed prior to the retirement or transfer of specialists.

  • The list of subjects the expert deals with is extensive; therefore, the process requires focusing the subjects dealt with. Thus, in order to successfully attain the good and nest practices regarding said subjects. The result, in most cases, will be a document, WIKI or site that includes this worker's accumulated knowledge made accessible for the benefit of future generations.

Collective knowledge capture

Is usually performed at the end of a project, as part of a professional doctrine creation process or when facing a significant challenge. The essence of the process is shared structuring of knowledge from various sources and individuals. For example, following a pilot of a single year/several years in which a group experienced a new approach/solution, a knowledge capture process will be performed in order to share and structure the knowledge as well as make it accessible for all relevant workers. Knowledge is usually retrieved through instructed groups, in a format of either several groups or a single group, each representing 5-12 similar officials, such as: engineers, product managers, customers, etc. The various backgrounds of each official, his/her different circumstances in which the solution was implemented, different context and seniority, etc. all diversify the brainstorming and enable expanding and extending the knowledge beyond the narrow boundaries of each individual worker.

Hereby is a description of the process of capturing collective knowledge:

The group facilitator together with the group members predefine the subject which they intend to discuss within a called session. They then convene for wither an entire day or 3-4 meetings. The meeting starts with definition of goals and specific fields in which the members wish to intensify their knowledge. It is important to stick to the selected topic and refrain from digressing to other topics. The topics in focus are listed; this list can contain, for example, challenges on the path to setting up a solution, challenges one faces when managing day to day activity, common problems related to clients or a collection of important decisions that should be made during a project. The items on this list are grouped into main categories.

The members split into sub-teams of up to three members which take upon themselves to delve into a single item according to a ready-made template. The template may vary according to the discussed need (challenges, decisions, frequent difficulties with the product, etc). For example, if the group is discussing coping with challenges, each member shares the challenges they faced and the methods they chose to implement in order to overcome them.

The next stage is dedicated to group brainstorming regarding the material produced by the sub-groups. The outcome may have a form of a toolbox, work processes, a professional doctrine document, etc.

A decision should be made regarding the manner in which the product will be made accessible to group use "the next day".

Tips for successful capture:

  • Gathering a group of appropriate size and knowledge capacity

  • Preparing guiding questions

  • Preparing the appropriate template for documenting the process (as mentioned above)

  • Allocating instructors to pass through the groups and assist in the discussion process

  • A positive and enabling atmosphere which provides prominence and focus to the process

What is the added value provided by a knowledge capture process?

  • Transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge

  • Sharing the knowledge and making it accessible to additional organization workers

  • Clarifying and intensifying the existing knowledge of each member

  • Developing an organizational culture of Knowledge Management

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