Annual Meeting 2014- Creating a Learning Organization

Creating a Learning Organization: How to Transfer & Apply Knowledge Across an Organization
Clifford Spiro, PhD, Cliff Spiro Consulting Group LLC

Knowledge is the coin of trade for R&D organizations. We tend to focus on the creation of knowledge, and less so on the storage, transmission, and application of knowledge across the organization. Commonly used methods for knowledge transfer include project reviews, company reports, and knowledge systems. These fall short for several reasons: they are largely technical and most projects fail for other reasons; they rarely include failures though failures present the greatest opportunity to learn; they are too brief and in bullet format, whereas in-depth prose is best for truly capturing complex endeavors; knowledge is primarily retained within a vertical business unit and less often shared across business units where the impact is potentially greatest. 

Through my books and consulting practice, I have found that storytelling is an effective, entertaining, and engaging way to learn technical and innovation practices from one another. Stories represent an important pedagogical vehicle to explain and discuss projects from inception to completion, and are replete with technical, business, and behavioral knowledge and pitfalls that should be shared. Not only does the storyteller benefit from retelling the story, but more typically, the audience will have a very different perspective and both teller and audience will learn from each other. 

This presentation offers a true and unvarnished R&D war-story engaging participants in a discussion of lessons learned.