Monday, 27 July 2015

KRT SIG Announcement: Knowledge Transfer for Joiners - Please build me a spacecraft

Three years ago my son joined an advertising agency - it was his first job after university. Those who designed the agency's induction process had really thought about the know-how and know-who that somebody new to an organisation (or indeed the world of work) rarely gets . Each graduate was given a 5 week assignment that could only be achieved by them talking with campaign planners, account managers, creatives and a number of the back-office functions. This wasn't make-work, but a real project which helped them feel productive as quickly as possible. The unstated aim was of course also to help the newbies build their personal network.
What reminded me of this was reading about NASA's Project HOPE - 'Hands On Project Experience'. Jon Boyle and Ed Hoffman of NASA recently published a paper http://km.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/03/Real-Knowledge-at-NASA.pdf that describes their 'knowledge services model for the modern project environment'. The section on how the HOPE program features a number of case-studies where early-entry NASA managers have to design, develop and launch an suborbital flight project in 18 months. In this way they learn quickly about the business, governance, operations policies and standards- and presumably started to build their personal networks too.
All too often, new starters are thrown in the deep end of an existing project and expected to 'pick-up stuff' as they go along. An alternative could be to: 
  • Engineer an induction project for new starters such that they make a contribution as soon as possible. This also reduces the 'time to competency' for the organisation. 
  • Help them make a wide-variety of connections outside their immediate team/function
  • Asks 'what else does this individual bring to the organisation, over and above fulfilling the job description?' This is particularly important and valuable for those joining from other organisations or with sector experience.
I've come across organisations that do elements of these, but not all. Has anyone else come across intelligent and interesting knowledge transfer for joiners programs? Join in the discussion on our new LinkedIn group 
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