Get Creative with Knowledge Transfer Formats

Over the past few months, my team and I have been in the unusual position of having an abundance of time for knowledge transfer as our project ramped down. Our team had accumulated a lot of knowledge over the project, so the first thing we did was build a knowledge transfer backlog.

After defining our backlog, it was time to execute on the work. There were two large buckets of work: writing documentation, and preparing workshops. We found it easier for all to stay engaged when we used a creative knowledge transfer format.

The Challenge: Staying Engaged

Those areas are not typically the most energizing work for your average developer. We didn’t want to spend sprint after sprint on monotonous work. Since we had the luxury of a long ramp-down period, we pulled a few knowledge transfer tasks into each sprint to work on alongside normal development tasks. We also decided it was crucial to make the presentations and workshops as engaging as possible.

Interactive Workshops

As a hands-on learner, I thought interactive sessions would be the most impactful. When we looked through our list of topics that needed a live session, one that jumped out as a great fit for a workshop was handling security vulnerabilities in our applications. This was an area where none of the client developers had experience and where we’d established a specific set of steps.

I prepared a short group activity where each team member logged in to the security portal and found the report for a specific Docker image. Each person had to add a sticky note on the workshop Miro board with a vulnerable package that the report found within the Docker image.

I also put together a quick break-out session where the team was split into a few small groups of two or three developers, with the task of upgrading a vulnerable dependency to a patched version and reporting back on what steps they took to fix it.

These types of activities were really helpful for making sure that the client developers had walked through the steps themselves, instead of just watching me clicking around over a screen share.

Themed Sessions

We also wanted to ensure the sessions were engaging and fun for us to prepare, so we came up with some fun themes to incorporate into the workshops. For example, our scrum team name is the Avengers. So our security score workshop was Avengers-themed and featured some semi-related clips from the movies and themed avatars to move around the Miro board.

We carried the Marvel theme into other workshops as well. One of the most entertaining workshops to prepare was more like a school assignment. I partially implemented a simple feature in one of our applications, and the team had to follow the instructions to finish the feature and answer some questions along the way.

This workshop was Guardians of the Galaxy themed, so we attached a link to the movie soundtrack on the Miro board. We also got some help from one of our designers to create a really fun and beautiful space-themed Miro board where the client team could record their answers as they worked through the assignment.

Pain Points

While it was really fun to put together the interactive workshops, it was also very time-consuming. Initially, we planned to have almost all of our live sessions formatted as interactive workshops. This wasn’t feasible though, since each workshop took a significant amount of preparation time. As our knowledge transfer phase went on, we shifted to mostly presentations. These still took time to prepare, but skipping the interactive activities and going straight to information sharing helped speed the process.

Despite switching to a less interactive knowledge transfer format, we still left lots of room for questions and deep dives during the presentations. We continued to receive good feedback from the client developers. Plus, the presentation slides also have the benefit of serving as written documentation for the project.

Another unexpected problem was how much of the knowledge transfer work ended up falling on my shoulders. We had shuffled team members shortly before shifting into the ramp-down phase. That meant I was the only Atom on the team who had worked in most of the areas where we were doing knowledge transfer. My teammates were still really helpful in organizing the content and trying out the activities ahead of the actual sessions, but I ended up writing most of the content. In an ideal scenario, we would have had multiple experienced developers who could share more of the preparation work.

Getting Creative

If you have extra time when your next project ramps down, see if you can make space to try out a creative knowledge transfer format. You might be surprised how much fun you can have when you flex a different skill set!


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