How to transfer Knowledge

Published on Tuesday 3 April 2012 by in Blog with no comments


In previous blogs posted by GamingWorks you can see that 70-80% of organizations fail to gain the hoped for benefits of an ITIL or ITSM improvement program. Despite the millions of ITIL certificates and the significant amounts spent on ITIL training. In one of my first articles in this serioes I showed you that figures reveal that only 3% of organizations can measure or demonstrate the impact of a training investment.

In the previous article I explained the 8 field model and how to use it. In this article I want to focus on ‘Transfer of Knowledge’, how to apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes we gained to day to day work so that business impact and value is achieved, and in doing so we can reduce the risk of our ITSM improvement initiative from failing.

In my own practice I face a lot of difficulties when exploring the process to transfer the knowledge from training to day-to-day work with the ‘customer’ or the ‘problem owner’. Especially when it’s about ‘what to do?’, ‘how to do it?’ and ‘when to do it?’.

But the only way to create real Business Results it by applying what you learned into the day-to-day work.

What makes Transfer of Knowledge a success?

We must make sure that the training has a reason. We must have defined learning objectives, desirable behavior after the training, results of the training and higher effects on Business Results of the training.

  • We must have set clear measures about what we want to see after the training. These measures must be in terms of behavior and must be on the level of employees and management. On employees level we must define the behavior and results we want to see in the workplace, on a managementl level we want to see the desirable behavior from management demonstrating how they are supporting the employees in transferring knowledge.
  • We must make somebody (a person or a role) responsible for the results on the workplace after the training. One who is responsible for managing the process of creating new behavior and who is managing the process of transferring?
  • We must make a clear plan what to do, when to do it, how to do it, referring to the transfer of knowledge.
  • We must integrate the transfer of knowledge into the total learning process. Using the 8 fields model, this means that the learning intervention must contain elements of learning the knowledge, the skills, the behavior and the attitude objectives. But it must also contain the learning of transfer skills.
  • We must involve management to make them responsible for their own learning process on how to manage this transfer of knowledge process. They should learn how to support their employees in transferring the knowledge.
  • We must design learning interventions that combine learning and working. As part of the learning process we need to use the newly gained skills in workplace oriented situations that are related to the problems we want to solve.

Many of these success factors are explored during the intake with the customer. During this intake we must explore the above items and gather all kinds of information to design/develop an effective learning intervention.

How can we make Transfer of Knowledge successful?

I want to split this question into two parts.

  1. What can the customer do about it?
  2. What can the trainer or consultant partner can do about it?

What can the customer do about it?

  • The “customer” must first think about the problem that must be solved. That’s not easy. Most of the customers think in solutions, whichtraining do I need?. “I need all my staff to be ITIL Certified, so I need them to follow an ITIL Foundation!” The thinking should be: “We are wasting 20 hours a week because not all of us are speaking the same language!” or “We are organizing our ITSM processes in a very inefficient way, because nobody knows the difference between Incident Management and Problem Management”.
  • The “customer” should be aware of the effort he should put into the transfer of knowledge process. The new way of working is a result of applying the new knowledge into the work processes. The customer must coach, use the new knowledge, measure results and make sure the problems are to be solved.
  • The “customer” should find and create time for the whole team of employees to make the knowledge transfer possible, time for INTAKE, time for the INTERVENTION itself and time for TRANSFER
  • The “customer” should plan some budget for transfer of knowledge. There should be not only budget for the training itself but also budget (and time) for the actual transfer of knowledge

As a result:

  • More effective training efforts, better effects and more Business results
  • Better transfer of knowledge, which leads to new behavior, solving issues, more enthusiastic workers
  • Better ROI
  • Motivated employees
  • No Spoiled budget

What can de trainer or consultancy partner do about it?

  • The ‘trainer” should plan a 2 hour time slot to do an intake with the customer to explore the learning needs and learning results. This is not easy to plan, because they are expected to be billable for at least half a days.
  • The “trainer” is skilled in telling and presenting the knowledge to students and doing the exercises. But they should be trained to facilitate the learning process of the students. This requires new skills.
  • The “trainer” should be able to design a learning intervention based on the learning needs and objectives of the customer.
  • The “trainer” should be able to design interventions to support the Transfer of Knowledge process. And should be able to facilitate this during the learning and working process.

As a result…

  • the trainer and the training company are seen as experts in creating Business Results
  • the customer can really use the knowledge fixing the issues in the company
  • the training company can generate more supporting services for the customer to support the customer with transfer of knowledge and creating results.

Examples of Transfer of Knowledge interventions 

I want to give you some ideas how to support the transfer of knowledge related to Business Simulations.

  1. Discuss with the customer how he expects to transfer the knowledge from the simulation to the day-to-day work. Then use these transfer skills in the simulation.
  2. Let a team leader manage the implementation of the Mission Control Center processes.
  3. Let an ITSM process manager, act as the Incident Manager and let him manage the process in the simulation. Also let him analyze the outcome of the process and let him improve it
  4. Let a manager take care of the Reflection after each round and let him work with the team as if it’s his real team from work.

This way the employees experience the transfer skills needed to do the same kind of activities in their day-to-day work.

Explore the ‘next-steps’ after the simulation during the de-briefing at the end of the Simulation.

  1. Ask employees to define lessons learned from the simulation
  2. Ask them if they have any suggestions how they can apply these lessons learned into their own work.
  3. Ask them what kind of actions they want to take
  4. Ask what kind of support they need, and from who 3.

Assign some coaching or action learning sessions for the weeks after the simulation.

  1. Get the team together for 4 – 6 times and check what they achieved after the simulation
  2. Coach them with suggestions, reflections and feedback
  3. Support the team leaders in helping them to support the transfer process within their own teams.

I think with a little bit of creativity we can all design more of these interventions.


  • The transfer of knowledge can be made successful if we focus on it during the 3 stages of the learning intervention (1) Intake (2) the intervention (3) the transfer.
  • We should design the transfer of knowledge activities as part of the learning process.
  • We should integrate the development of transfer skills into the learning interventions.
  • We must ensure that the management of the customer takes an active, engaged role in the transfer process

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