Speaking here of clear communication, I would first like to explain my understanding of knowledge transfer. In a community or a company, we share not only a chain of data in the form of information, but we want to share our insights, our experiences in connection with information to solve a problem or to achieve better results.

As we not only want to spread out knowledge but want to transfer – meaning sending the goody package from one brain to another, it is crucial to make sure our recipient caches the delivery safely.

If you wish a more official definition for knowledge transfer, why not this one from ISO 37500:2014 (en) Guidance on outsourcing: “Structured process of imparting pre-existing or acquired information to a team or a person, to help them attain a required level of proficiency in skill.
Note 1 to entry: Knowledge transfer is not a synonym for training.

Since telepathy is not a proven approach, we codify our knowledge in order to send it to the intended recipients. – Next term to explain. What does codifying mean? To codify is to put the thoughts, the concept, or the knowledge we have in our brain into a system of signals or symbols for communication. In simple terms, for verbal communication, we choose first a language (if we are multilingual), then we select specific terms and build sentences – all these we do according to grammatical rules and linguistic conventions of the cultural area we refer to.

So far, so good. One might think that would have to be enough to transfer knowledge, right?

The fact is that our recipients, the people we communicate with, and also applicationslike ERP (enterprise resource planning tool), PIM (product information management tool), CSM (content storage management tool) usually apply fully different terms for the same concept. This is the reality in every company or organization, where the terminology is not yet standardized systematically.

Maybe you wonder what terminology actually is. ISO 1087:2019 provides the following definition: “Set of designations and concepts belonging to one domain or subject.”

Let’s get back to the point. Often for one single concept, there are five or even more terms used. We call them synonyms. I’m sure if you have a few years of work experience in one or more companies, you know what I am talking about.

That inconsistent terminology may cause many serious problems for any company, can be understood through common sense alone. In this blog, however, I look at it through the eyes of the knowledge manager.

So if we want to facilitate a smooth transfer of knowledge, we must first clarify and standardize the core of our communication. It is where a professional terminology manager is ideally brought in.

You can imagine how complicated this task is. Therefore, it is crucial to develop along with the corporate strategy a fitted standardization concept. It is extremely important that this terminology work is carried out concept-oriented and centralized. It means that we do not compile individual, meaningless, and incoherent word lists. In terminology work, particular concepts are considered in relation to each other. We create visualized concept frameworks, which serve also as knowledge maps. First, the terms are defined in short definitions, differentiating them from each other and defining their position in a concept framework. Then all known related terms used for that concept are collected, and a preferred term is determined. All these data and further information are maintained in a terminology database designed for this purpose – in one or more languages. This database can also be connected via interfaces with other applications of a company. After providing the company with the newly standardized terminology via specific tools, it can be used.
Not only is knowledge transfer now possible through clear communication, but this work is also a direct contribution to knowledge management. Experts from different fields are involved in this work, which creates a kind of knowledge network itself, and their explicit knowledge is mapped in great detail in knowledge maps, term definitions in the dynamically growing database.

What is your opinion about clear communication as a basis for knowledge transfer?
Please leave a comment or ask your questions. I will be happy to interact with you.

Best regards,
Azadeh Eshaghi