Changing a Practice through Experience Capitalization

Change is everywhere and happens all the time…well except for corporations, where changing a practice, procedure, process is a rare phenomenon and there is no consensus on how to bring about it. Too many variables, too many factors since change always rattles the culture which is hard to define, let alone adapt.

Among many techniques for change, including management controls, dictatorship, incentivization, germination and gamification, one instrument is Experience Capitalization.

A technique from Knowledge Management which enables Knowledge Capture, Transfer and Utilization all in one with defined outcomes leading to Lessons Learned and ‘Good Practices’ with the stakeholders ready to buy-in and adapt for change.

Doesn’t that just sound great! Well, that’s the target anyways….

The essence to enable change, one has to institutionalize shared knowledge among the stakeholders based on their experiences and consensus.

We know that Knowledge Transfer is a core function of successful innovative companies. The “Flow” enables us to co-create, institutionalize knowledge and get a real feel of knowledge worthiness.

Knowledge Transfer takes place for a host of reasons like succession planning, product training, new employee ramp up, brewing up best practices, abandoning bad practices but when knowledge is systematically converted into capital to enable process improvement and structural change, it is often called ‘Experience Capitalization’.

Although ‘Experience’ is known to be the least effective knowledge acquisition tool since it carries a high risk of not learning anything further, or of carrying the ‘wrong’ experience, one which is made due to bad habits of short term quick and dirty fixes but here the term ‘Experience Capitalization’ refers to collective, institutional learning which overcomes such ‘Competency Traps’. In most if not all cases, Organizational Learning is a better critical success factor. Here Experience Capitalization focuses on Organizational Learning.

The philosophy is that by capitalizing on (latent) experiences, changes can be brought about since it is the (latent) experiences which are ignored and sidelined without this process, blocking the impetus to change.

Experience capitalization is a learning process but differs from personal learning in that the expereince is summarized and belongs to the whole group, reached through a concensus and thus reducing the resistence to change. Another fundamental difference from other forms of Organizational Learning is that experience capitalization usually focuses on the experiences of the stakeholders only without involving third parties. This ensures that the summation of the experiences are ‘local’ to the stakeholders who have to undergo change. Experience Capitalization cannot be delegated but third parties can be invoked only as facilitators.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Coperation defines it as:

Experience capitalization refers to the transformation of (individual and institutional) knowledge into capital by those directly involved in order to change a collective, institutional practice. It aims at changing one’s own practices or structures.

Read more about Experience Capitalization at their website.

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