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best practices, and questions about KM in
a government environment
October 13th “Knowledge Sharing: Transition, Growth, and Change” session with Carol Willett
October 25, 2009 at 10:12 pm #83801
On 10/13/09, GAO’s Chief Learning Officer, Carol Willett – who is retiring in January – graciously shared her transition strategy and practice with federal budget analysts at the Department of Education. Excerpts from the interactive discussion follow, and the handouts have been attached. Maybe there’s something here that you can use, or build upon, in your office.
The handouts are for non-commercial use only.
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Most Position Descriptions do not include a requirement to share knowledge with others. All PD’s should. Employees should “learn it, do it, teach it.”
Many agencies are forming Communities of Practice to share knowledge. The most common tool today is the “wiki”, like the MAX Federal Community.
Questions to the Group with Sample Responses:
What did I learn today?
• Every position description should include an item: “Learn it. Do it. Teach it.”
• Transition is not about retirement; it’s about every day.
• We’re good at What and How, not so good on WHY – the tacit knowledge.
• This is about minimizing crisis: If I’m not here, how can I set things up so someone can do my job?
• Indispensible is a synonym for Stuck!
What tips do you wish someone had given you?
• Get together and explore the “art of the possible.”
• Cross organizational lines.
• Ask forgiveness vs. permission.
• Bring solutions vs. questions.
What’s the one most important thing the next person needs to know?
• Status – where things are now and what comes next.
• Most important and high priority items in the office.
• Ask for feedback.
• Ask more questions.
What’s the why behind the what and the how?
• Many document what they do, but the why it’s done and how it’s done, are just as important.
Tips to document the most important “next” steps and items:
• Use “To do” lists and keep them visible.
• Create “you are here” maps
• Use project status reports viewable for everyone
• become skilled at getting more feedback
• learn how to explain your role to others
• create process maps
• develop “annual crises calendar” (include about CRs, budget process, program evaluations, deadlines)
• Use your Outlook calendar for “To Do” lists and share with your office mates.
• cartoons can be powerful story telling tools
• create PowerPoint presentations with voice over to tell story with pictures
• crisis identification: some people are in a constant crisis mode; learn to detect this and whether real
• 5 minute mini lessons with one pagers or post-it notes; chunk information for learning
• don’t pigeon hole yourself; empower yourself by learning your agency mission and how each contributes
• create a “real” organization chart of who actually makes things happen, how they interact, informal ways to get things done
• learn to use highlighting features in documents and emails
• create time lines, journals
• adopt “train the trainer” approach
• frame experiences as a story rather than just 1, 2, 3, …
• if you have to teach a lot of people in a short amount of time, it must be scalable
List 1 thing you would like to do today to share knowledge…. And DO IT!
Link to the MAX Federal Community page (accessible after registration if you work in an executive branch agency): https://max.omb.gov/community/x/vADdFg
October 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm #83809
Thanks! This is great stuff!
October 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm #83807
Excellent sharing. I would really love to do some deep capture of Carol’s deep knowledge and wisdom. Not too many in government understand how to produce hard results from KM, and KM become a common sense activity with no direct target. As managing knowledge and learning within the construct of a powerful working culture is my professional focus, I’m always keenly interested in learning and sharing~ especially private sector practices that are transferable to government. Again, thanks for the sharing. Thomas.
October 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm #83805
Carol, this is what I call some information with value. If you have any other nuggets like this, I’m ready to read.
Thanks for sharing. Tony
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