5 ways to improve the learnability of your knowledge dump

Could a simple Knowledge Dump do the transfer itself?

Here’s the dream: “I’m gonna write it down, all in one stretch, a long page with everything I know on this topic. I’ll share this and, “et voilà,” knowledge transfer is done.”

You have a little bit more work 🙂 We can’t read USB keys yet! Few people can absorb such a full dump with little structure and scaffolding they can hold on.

Knowledge transfer goes better by small doses, small chunks. Chunks are either expanding the coverage of the topic or getting deeper, incrementally building more in-depth knowledge. It’s also the easiest way to get it out of our brain.

5 ways to improve the learnability of your knowledge dump

Ease Motivation Need

It has to remain attractive for the recipient. It takes motivation to absorb a massive dose of knowledge. In a book, authors add compelling stories. They may exaggerate the benefits to get you in. They turn the reading experience into a heroic discovery. It encourages the reader into reading more. You may not want to engage in this construction. Researching to find anecdotes is time-consuming, turning every lesson into an engaging experience is also taking time.

The best you can do is to prepare the knowledge to make it easier to digest.

Mind the Prior Knowledge Gap

Ideally, you only want to share only what you learned from experience or share the very minimum needed for the job. However, recipients may have a different background. You will have to engineer ways for them to ramp up their knowledge. It could be to provide a list of courses to take, or a reference book. In theory, it’s okay, but not everyone is an independent learner. It’s easier to absorb to provide them in small chunks: Posts from a good website, or Videos on youtube to watch. An excellent way to prepare this is to get into the habit of collecting sources explaining stuff you know well, don’t need for yourself but may need to explain. You are well placed to select those which fits your views.

Extra tip: add an entry in your knowledge base for each concept of prior knowledge (prerequisite).
One more: A good practice can be to curate the course or the book down to the chapter level to ensure the best relevance. You can add remarks to relate to your context (“We use this for that”).

Chunks for the win

Chunk everything in small digestible bites. Not only it’s easier to absorb, but it’s also easier to plan and fit in in-between times. 5 minutes videos or 500 words pieces are well fit for adult learning in the flow of work. Think of the time of a coffee break between two tasks. Try to make chunks as independent as possible, not just slicing a long explanation. When pieces are more independent, they can be skimmed, skipped, replayed in a different order.

Scaffold to Heaven

You have to scaffold learning paths. Start from jobs to be done. Which skills and concepts are necessary? Make sure there is a path to acquire them, identify what will be needed. Optimize the path to be as short as possible. It’s best to have tasks that can be done autonomously as quickly as possible and add more learning down the way. The learning curve will become an accessible stairway with successes at every landing.

Tacit Knowledge Ahead

You may end up in deadlocks: Subjects you understand but didn’t yet articulate in a way easy to convey, or for which you didn’t find a simple explanation. Often what we gained from experience can only be retold by showing or narrating the experience with all the trial and errors. It takes time and can be confusing. Simplify for some of the learnings. Your learners will be more patient and open for the rest. Showing is always good as it creates awareness and motivation. To make it simple, follow with metaphors, job aids, checklists, sketches. Propose deliberate practice of some crucial steps with your supervision.

It’s even better if you arrange all this knowledge in a way coworkers can self serve themselves or you can refer them to on need.

With this extra work, your knowledge dump is on a great path to success.