I have a lot of respect for true professionals. When one of them leaves a company in the manufacturing or process industry, it has a major impact on the organisation because they take a lot of knowledge and experience with them. If that knowledge isn’t properly recorded, as is often the case, you’re right back where you started. That’s the realisation that inspired me to develop a scientific method during my time as a student at the University of Twente,” says Wouter Schotborgh, co-director of ELICIT Online, a leading software and consultancy firm that actively focuses on recording and transferring knowledge in the process and manufacturing industry.
“At its core, it’s about identifying the essential parameters and decision-making moments that are part of an expert’s intuitive thought processes,” Wouter continues. As it turns out, this seemingly magical process that goes on inside someone’s head can be captured in the form of a model. An experienced operator or technologist can understand what’s wrong with a faulty machine or process in a matter of seconds, and by listening for certain sounds or looking at specific information, that person can resolve the issue. So far, so good, you might say. The problem is, however, that this solution stems from thought processes going on inside the person’s brain. Instead, you want these processes to be objectively recreated in the form of a technological solution. That’s what makes a strong and independent organisation: extracting knowledge from people’s minds and making it useable throughout the entire organisation.
“With a systematic questioning method, we can pragmatically fill out the knowledge model one step at a time. The end result is a knowledge structure that details the essential observations, information streams and decision-making moments that make up a business process. An important characteristic is focus on the essence,” Wouter says. “You have to know what questions to ask. Instead of asking a whole lot of generic questions, you should stick to a few very specific questions. Focusing on the core, in other words. Our method is both fast and practical: in just three to five contact moments, we can capture thirty years’ worth of experience and make it available to the entire organisation with our tool.”
“Knowledge and experience are key if a business wants to survive in today’s economy, which offers plenty of opportunities as well as fierce competition. Add to that the rapid pace at which the world is changing, plus ever-increasing globalisation, and you’ll see how safeguarding knowledge and experience is essential to an organisation’s survival.”