When Peer Assists add value
Peer Assists are one of the most powerful processes in KM, but they are not for every occasion.
A Peer Assist – a meeting when a project team seeks input of knowledge and advice from experienced peers – is one of the most effective tools in the KM armoury. It is demand-driven, the knowledge which is shared will almost certainly be reapplied very quickly, the knowledge is brought into the project in its richest form (in the heads of experienced practitioners) and the diversity of viewpoints within a peer assist helps eliminate many of the common cognitive biases.
However a Peer Assist is costly in time and (in the case of multinational companies) in travel costs. It is not something that can be done quickly, as it takes time for the visiting peers and the project team to fully understand each others’ contexts. A Peer Assist for a major project may take days.
The value of the Peer Assist must outweigh the costs, which is why they are not a cure-all for every problem.
Here are some guidelines for whether a Peer Assist is the right solution for a project
- The project recognises that it needs knowledge
- The required knowledge is complex knowledge, which has not been codified into standards and best practices.
- The Project team has tried traditional knowledge seeking methods such as searching, browsing, eLearning, formal training, expert support etc.
- The scope of work, and the issues which need to be discussed, are clear.
- The project team have enough knowledge of the subject to understand the core issues, but still need expertise and experience from other people to help them make the correct decision.
- The project team are still open to new ideas and challenges, and are not yet committed to a course of action
- The potential saving exceeds the cost of the meeting.
- Therefore they need a Peer Assist