A lot of people talk about “knowledge sharing” but that’s only half the task. It doesn’t make any difference how much knowledge is shared, if nobody uses it! So I focus on knowledge transfer, which includes both ends of the exchange - the knowledge originator and the receiver. In order to design those processes, I’ve had to learn a lot about the science of learning, because both ends of the transfer require learning.
Originally, I got interested in learning because I had a young son who was dyslexic. I could tell he was a capable learner, but not the way the schools wanted him to learn. I had to figure out how to help him get the knowledge he needed using very different methods than the public school offered. So I did graduate study in neurology, psychology, and learning theory. I had the opportunity to learn first-hand from some of the greats, Chris Argyris, David Bohm, Reg Revans, Don Schon, and Karl Weick. They helped me gain an in-depth knowledge of how, not just individuals, but groups and organizations learn.
Organizational Learning became my life’s work, first as a researcher and professor at the University of Texas, then later at the George Washington University and for the last fifteen years as a consultant using that knowledge to help organizations build effective knowledge transfer processes. And to this day how groups learn and transfer knowledge remains a totally fascinating subject for me!
Focusing on knowledge transfer I get to wear a lot of different hats:
frequently I’m asked to design a knowledge transfer strategy for an organization,
often I facilitate knowledge transfer meetings between two teams or between an expert and those that need that expertise,
I’m asked to conduct knowledge assessments to find out what knowledge is the most critical for an organization to focus on.
One of my favorite requests is when I’m asked to design retreats and conferences where the leaders want to take advantage of all the knowledge in the room, in order to address a difficult issue the organization is facing.
I became a full-time consultant in 2000, coinciding with the publication of my book
Common Knowledge: How companies thrive by sharing what they know, (Harvard Business School), one of the seminal books on knowledge management.
At heart I’m a writer and have written eight books and over 80 articles about how to make transfer happen in organizations. See the list in my CV. My latest thinking and lots of practical tips for knowledge transfer are in my blog at www.nancydixonblog.com. I’m also a runner, a biker, a committed yoga practitioner, a mother of two and a grandmother of three. I have the great privilege of living in one of the most exciting cities in the US, Austin Texas, the live music capital of the world!