We have all experienced frustration and disappointment of seeing the results of our efforts being wasted, the recommendations we have made not being followed on, insights we discovered not acted upon, and application systems we implemented not adopted by user communities, to name a few. If we assume for the purpose of this discussion that our efforts produced quality results, the problem that caused our unfortunate experiences is the problem of knowledge transfer between experts and managers in organizational decision making processes.
One of the Next Market Research (NGMR) LinkedIn group members shared with us a link to the study by Professor Martin J. Eppler of School of Communication Sciences, University of Lugano.
This paper is an excellent resource and I wish I would have access to it much earlier in my career. I’ll quote:
The efficient and effective transfer of experiences, insights, and know-how among different experts and decision makers is a prerequisite for high-quality decision-making and coordinated, organisational action (Straub and Karahanna, 1998).
For one reason or another, my experiences of these transfers were not often very effective, and most of these times, both experts and decision makers failed to build common context for the knowledge transfer.
The process of knowledge communication hence requires more reciprocal interaction between decision makers and experts because both sides only have a fragmented understanding of an issue and consequently can only gain a complete comprehension by iteratively aligning their mental models. All of this means that when we communicate knowledge, we are still communicating information and emotions, but we also create a specific type of context so that this information can be used to re-construct insights, create new perspectives, or acquire new skills.
I have been guilty on both side of the table: as an expert I often discounted value of my knowledge assuming that what I have learned is obvious to everyone around me, and as a decision maker I never had enough time and attention span to really understand intricacies that did not seem to address business problems I had to wrestle with.
How do you deal with this?