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What is the Difference Between Knowledge Harvesting and Exit Interviews? And it got me thinking, because this question is like asking what's the difference between a Mini and a Rolls Royce?, in essence they both get you from A to B; but it is how they do it and how effective they are at doing it! In terms of Knowledge Management the processes of Knowledge Harvesting and the Exit Interview are both aimed at 'Capturing Knowledge', but again it comes down to how effective they are at achieving the desired outcome.

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The Difference Between Knowledge Harvesting and Exit Interviews? - This was a discussion that appeared in one of the KM Groups on the Professional Networking site - Linked-in.

Firstly, I need to say that I do not like the term 'Knowledge Harvesting', it sounds too mechanised and systematic, almost like "We are going to Harvest your Knowledge" whether you like it or not! I prefer Knowledge Sharing; a focus on the fact that you want the Knowledge Holder to share their Knowledge with others, and in turn others will share their Knowledge....but that's for another Blog Post, for the purpose of this post I will focus on the difference between Knowledge Harvesting and Exit Interviews. In this context Knowledge Harvesting is the 'state of being' that organisations should aspire to, so that Knowledge is 'Harvested' as it is created (or remembered) and this should be part of the normal business activity, part of the day to day business, capturing Knowledge as it is created and protecting it. Knowledge is created all of the time; via experiences, doing, interacting, innovating, investigating and just by existing. So on that basis organisations should be trying to harness that Knowledge and protect it. And as Knowledge is being created all of the time, then in terms of adoption of KM the answer is now!, immediately....organisations should adopt KM Practices at Start-Up. But we know that in reality they don't! I have had discussions with many 'Start-up' businesses and they agree that they need to protect the so called 'Business Critical Knowledge' but they either 'Don't have time' or Don't have the money' to either pay a consultant to assist them or develop their own way of protecting knowledge. So unfortunately we are left with the scenario where companies will carry on operating where the Knowledge circulates happily (and informally) within the organisation until something happens to upset the 'Status Quo'; Mr X who has 'this Knowledge' wins the Lottery and decides to leave, Miss Y who has 'Business Critical Knowledge' gets 'Head-Hunted' into a better job, or Mrs Z who knows all there is to know about 'widget a' retires. Or worse still, a series of redundancies driven by a bean counter who doesn't understand the business, and you are left with a last ditched 'Knee Jerk' effort to capture the Knowledge before it disappears out of the door - the exit interview. This is usually the time that most organisations realise that they should have been more proactive and focussed on protecting Business Critical Knowledge. I have experienced the 'Exit Interview' approach twice, and in both cases the 'Knowledge Holders' are not focussed on sharing their Knowledge, they are focussed on the 'Exit', so you then have to question the value of this last ditch Knowledge Capture, both from the quality of knowledge, and the effort that is used to capture it. The scenario could be even worse - a fatal accident.... because if this happens there is no chance of capturing any Knowledge; good or bad! If you look at the scenarios that I have described they are not fanciful or an attempt at scaremongering.......they happen every day, even people winning the lottery. It may only be a few people who win a big jackpot, but what happens if that person works for your organisation?, what if that person is the holder of your 'Business Critical Knowledge'?

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