08 Oct 1997

Job rotation

I believe job rotation is an effective technique, albeit slow, to achieve the following.

  1. Shared understanding. “I know what you mean, I experienced it too.”

  2. Transfer of tacit knowledge. “I read the well written instruction many times, but I could only do it well after a lot of practice.” (Refer to Nonaka and Takeuchi's book: Knowledge Creating Companies.)

  3. Corporate memory. Have you ever had your colleague, who is a specialist, leave the firm? Or an account executive who's been managing a customer account for years?

  4. Process enrichment. Job rotation also implies that more people will hold the same job, over time, compared to non job-rotation system. Each person usually brings in his/her flavour of doing things, and thus he/she will enrich the way the process is performed.

  5. Critical mass. Theoretically, with job rotation, a 10-person firm can consist of 10 programmers, 10 accountants, and 10 environmental engineers, etc. (Getting the same depth for all 10 would be difficult, though.) This may lead to flexibility on the type of work the firm can do, for example. (Consulting firms come to mind.)

Point 1 through 4 are especially valid for org learning, I think.

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