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8 Types of Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is the dissemination of knowledge from one organization, team or individual to another. Knowledge is information that exists in an individual's mind. This can be difficult to translate into words or visualization. As such, knowledge transfer is imperfect. The following are common approaches to knowledge transfer.


A relationship between an experienced person and a less experienced person in a particular domain over a sustained period of time that involves guidance and the transfer of knowledge, skills and cultural capital.


Coaching is a type of leadership that is accountable for the performance of a team or individual. This is a common way to transfer tacit knowledge such as leadership skills, interpersonal skills or physical abilities. For example, a customer service coach who is involved in the day-to-day operations of a hotel to provide direction, knowledge of performance and knowledge of results to customer-facing employees.


Education aimed at transferring applicable knowledge and skills. For example, an information security expert who develops and provides defensive computing training for all employees of a firm.

Mastery Training

Mastery is an approach to education and training that has a participant completely perfect a skill before moving on to more advanced skills. For example, a manufacturing team has 8 different roles that require unique skills. Each member of the team is provided on the job training in each role. A member is rotated to a new role when they have mastered their current role.

On The Job Training

The process of learning a profession, role or skill by doing a job with oversight and guidance. For example, an individual who is taking a year off may train a new employee in their role by having them perform it for a month with help.


Information sharing sessions such as a lunch and learn program that allows teams to share information with each other on topics of interest. Presentations may wrap information in storytelling and visual information that is engaging and easy to consume.


Capturing knowledge as text, media and visualizations. This is an essential element of knowledge transfer because documentation is durable and outlasts employees. However, it is difficult to articular many types of knowledge such that documentation is a poor substitute for a knowledgeable employee. It is also common for documentation to be unclear or to go to waste as employees fail to access it when it is needed. For example, an employee may reinvent a process from scratch that had been previously optimized at considerable cost and fully documented.


As knowledge exists in the mind of a person, the most efficient way to transfer knowledge between organizations or teams is to transfer the people themselves. For example, a sales team struggles with a new customer relationship management technology. In order to help address this problem, an expert in using the technology agrees to be transferred into the sales team as a salesperson. This individual helps to transfer technical skills to the sales team in exchange for learning sales related skills such as negotiation.
Overview: Knowledge Transfer
The dissemination of knowledge from one organization, team or individual to another.
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