4 dimensions for knowledge transfer

Here is a useful Boston Square which might help you unpack some of the assumptions behind knowledge transfer. 


Knowledge transfer is a term everyone uses, but often we can bring baggage and assumptions to the term. What exactly do we MEAN by transferring knowledge? How is it transferred, and what prompts the transfer?

Boston Squares are great for pulling apart a topic, and allowing you to untangle some thoughts which otherwise might get lumped together. The square shown here is often useful to help an organisation check its assumptions, and make sure it is not getting polarised in its thinking. 

 Here we pull apart knowledge transfer into the dimensions of Knowledge Push and Knowledge Pull (which you might call “Sharing” and “seeking”), and the dimensions of Documented and Undocumented knowledge.
We get 4 quadrants, which we could call Ask, Tell, Search, Share.
  • An Ask approach to knowledge transfer focuses on communities of practice, where people can ask questions of their peers
  • A Tell approach to knowledge transfer focuses on training, lectures, mentoring and coaching
  • A Search approach to knowledge transfer focuses on enterprise search, semantic search and AI
  • A Share approach to knowledge transfer focuses on sharing documents, lessons and best practices 
Which quadrant should your KM program address? Why, all of them of course. Probably it doesn’t. Probably most of your attention goes to one quadrant, and the others are neglected. 

Use this Boston Square to check the balance of your KM program.

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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