If Only We Knew What We Know

The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice

If Only We Knew What We Know

While companies search the world over to benchmark best practices, vast treasure troves of knowledge and know-how remain hidden right under their noses: in the minds of their own employees, in the often unique structure of their operations, and in the written history of their organizations. Now, acclaimed productivity and quality experts Carla O'Dell and Jack Grayson explain for the first time how applying the ideas of Knowledge Management can help employers identify their own internal best practices and share this intellectual capital throughout their organizations.

Knowledge Management (KM) is a conscious strategy of getting the right information to the right people at the right time so they can take action and create value. Basing KM on three major studies of best practices at one hundred companies, the authors demonstrate how managers can utilize a visual process model to actually transfer best practices from one business unit of the organization to another. Rich with case studies, concrete examples, and revealing anecdotes from companies including Texas Instruments, Amoco, Buckman, Chevron, Sequent Computer, the World Bank, and USAA, this valuable guide reveals how knowledge treasure chests can be unlocked to reduce product development cycle time, implement more cost-efficient operations, or create a loyal customer base. Finally, O'Dell and Grayson present three "value propositions" built around customers, products, and operations that could result in staggering payoffs as they did at the companies cited above.

No amount of knowledge or insight can keep a company ahead if it is not properly distributed where it's needed. Entirely accessible and immensely readable, If Only We Knew What We Know is a much-needed companion for business leaders everywhere.
  • Free Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451697575 | 
  • May 2012

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. What about the concept of knowledge and best practice transfer is appealing to you? (See Preface and Chapter 1)
2. What knowledge (about our customers, our products, or our processes) is going to be important to our organization in the year ahead? What does this say about our value proposition in the market place? (See Part Two, Chapter 5)
3. How do we share knowledge and practices now? What works well? What doesn't?
4. Reflect back -- think about a time that important knowledge or a good practice was effectively shared in our organization. What made the transfer possible? What were the results? (Chapter 11, p. 111)
5. Think about a time that knowledge did NOT transfer? What got in the way? What could have been done differently? (Chapter 3)
6. What are the characteristics of your organization's culture that help or hinder the transfer of knowledge and best practice? (Chapter 9, p. 22)
7. How would we measure the effectiveness of our efforts at transfer? (Chapter 12, p. 133)
8. What can we, as individuals, do in our own work life to benefit from and contribute to knowledge transfer and use?
9. What issues will arise in our organization that this book failed to address? see more

About the Authors