Handover information loss

Our projects involve various people working sequentially in defining and creating solutuions. The creative people come first then the functional, technical and maintenance people. Handover of information is critical in preserving knowledge.

Too often I have seen documents play a far too important role in these handovers. The idea is that putting all outcomes in writing and reading them handover is achieved. What documents cannot transsfer is a lot of the context in which the outcomes were established. Choices pop up all the time and context is important in making the right decisions.

If you are the reciever of a handover it is important to ask a lot of questions. And these should be open questions, what why how. If you start to judge you potentially loose out on important information. If you are the person doing the handover, the same hold true. Provide context, information and ask a lot of verifying question like what is your understanding of?

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2 Responses to “Handover information loss”

  1. Peet Says:

    Hi Arnoud, here are some questions you might have an answer to.

    Where does one start asking questions? I mean: to insure that questions are asked one should have a structure to capture all answers you need to procede with the project.

    Another question: how does one prevent information loss and information corruption? In lots of cases documents still out perform any human memory in both accuracy and completeness. In speach information tends to be colored by the persons holding the information and the receiving party (remember the party game where people in a circle have to pass a message around?).

    My humble opinion is that information is lost because many people are affraid to record and exchange their and other peoples knowledge.
    Enabling people to do so by providing tools, education, structure and applying gentle force will have a long lasting effect.

  2. arnoudm Says:

    Hi Peet,

    Your statement: “In lots of cases documents still out perform any human memory in both accuracy and completeness.” is true in the long run. In my opinion human dialogue outperforms documents in transferring knowledge and context to that knowledge. Particularly since it is hard to write down feelings en opinions. During dialogue non verbal communication plays that role and loads of research show that tone of voice and other non verbal signals are more than 50% of the message recieved.

    I think in the end it is the mental model that someone makes of a situation leading in how that person acts in the situation. The mental model is and can be fed by recorded and structured information. But that alone is not enough. To put it simply human to human communication is necessary.

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