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Knowledge Connectors: Developing Relationships that Promote Sharing

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Mon Aug 15 2016

Knowledge Connectors: Developing Relationships that Promote Sharing
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The Federal Transit Administration uses a variety of tools to encourage knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing.  While the impetus for developing its approach to tapping into organizational knowledge was the pending retirement of many people, we developed a strategy to tap into the knowledge lifecycle of its employees in a systematic way. 

The FTA has introduced the Legacy Capture initiative, which provides seasoned employees the opportunity to share, in a structured interview, their perspective on the agency’s history as it relates to their own.  Questions, such as “Who do you call when you need to get something done?” and “What key event occurred that made the agency what it is today?” contributes more background to a new person than simply learning how one does one’s job. Rather, it allows for an understanding of why we do what we do.  

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These interviews, recorded and shared on FTA’s intranet (a knowledge portal called “TransPort”) provides an opportunity for broad distribution of these interviews across the agency.  When possible, a new employee is requested to conduct the interview to allow for the establishment of a relationship that could continue after the interview, another method for ensuring continued knowledge transfer. 

Another approach is the introduction of the Knowledge Café.  For FTA, the Knowledge Café provides a venue for sharing knowledge.  Our Learning and Knowledge Management (LKM) will provide all logistical support (webinar, rooms, times, announcements) so that mission topics such as transit policies, employee support initiatives like telework policies, or just interesting topics (for instance, transit through history or photography tips) can be shared with the appropriate audience.  

Knowledge Cafés enable people throughout FTA, at headquarters and our 10 regions) know who the expert is and who else is interested in the topic, It also provides the opportunity for anyone to present on a topic about which they are passionate.  Again, new relationships can be formed that can continue longer than just the session. 

Finally, FTA uses professional development as a means for developing relationships that encourage knowledge sharing and transfer. A formal mentor program pairs mentors with mentees in other offices, or even regional locations, and the associated shadowing experience allows field individual to better understand working at HQs, and vice versa.  Meanwhile, Book Club sessions allow people to randomly pair up with a colleague who may work in a different region. These colleagues work together to develop a session in which they present a book chapter to other employees.  Again, the resulting relationship exponentially increases our knowledge sharing and capture. 

Of course, these networking and relationship-building activities augment typical knowledge capture tools, such as process mapping or SOP development.  However, FTA’s approach to relationship building provides for long-term knowledge sharing and transfer of overall knowledge generation.  

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Next on the horizon: sharing knowledge as it walks IN the door by tapping into experience of our new employees.

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