When I revisited a client about 1.5 years after we introduced knowledge transfer policies to their system I discovered something interesting: knowledge transfer tickets followed a slightly different process than tickets without knowledge transfer. They pass through an additional last process step called “Feedback & Learning”. Whenever a mentor mentee pair finishes a ticket they give each other feedback about their (pair) work. When I say feedback, I mean true feedback and not the kind of “Everything is fine, wonderful and awesome, and you are a nice guy. (And now leave me alone.)” It is about learning and thus, true, critical, and appreciative feedback is required which is really something you’ll have to learn. By the way, giving true feedback is part of the Kanban Change Leadership trainings I run together with Sigi Kaltenecker 😉
But back to the example case… The “Feedback & Learning” step also requires the mentee to write an article for an internal knowledge base. After having this policy in place, the client reported back that they evolutionary built-up a knowledge base from zero to a quite mature state with very little effort in only 4 month. Even more, the number of knowledge transfer tickets was decreasing because people could look up in the knowledge base. Whenever they don’t find the desired information, they add another knowledge transfer ticket to the board. You see the pattern? A pair is built, knowledge is transferred, and after the transfer knowledge is conserved. And so on…
Pull-based Knowledge Transfer
With another client we introduced a pull-based knowledge transfer policy: Each worker can put ‘I want to learn’ tickets in the knowledge transfer column of the input queue. ‘I want to learn’ tickets are green colored sticky notes which express the wish to learn something. When a work item enters the system where the desired knowledge could be transferred, the green sticky note is stapled on the work item and a pair is build in order to teach and learn. In this particular kanban system they assigned capacities for 7 simultaneous ‘I want to learn’ tickets which is approx. 15 % of the 46 people working with the system.