The Transition Manager in Practice:
Knowledge Worker Orientation

Logs from Tom Lloyd and Chip Saltsman's

from Tom's E-mail dated October 22, 1996 and
Chip's E-mail dated November 8, 1996

(published 11/12/96)

Editor's Note: New Knowledge Workers receive orientation before their first DesignShop. This may coincide with the WalkThru, which is a collaborative session with the Crew, Client Sponsors and Facilitators whose purpose is to design the DesignShop. In the case presented below, the orientation session was a separate event held before the WalkThru.. The WalkThru is usually held the day before the DesignShop begins.

Names of clients have been changed or eliminated to maintain fiduciary responsibility.

The article begins with Tom's E-mail and then concludes with Chip's. You can see how the idea evolved between two different DesignShops, two different Crews and two different Process Facilitators.

Hello all-

As promised, here is the design that we discussed for a way to bring new people into the Management Center environment. A little context for those of you that were not at the Management Center for the DesignShop last week.


The DesignShop was tactical in nature, with the express purpose of creating a high to mid-level process model of the client's Order to Delivery process as part of a larger consulting engagement. The client would like to use the BAAN software package for their final state model and the Orgware software for their test and evaluation (i.e., to ensure that BAAN will work with their process and vice versa).

As part of the original Design of the session, we brought in about eleven BAAN and Orgware specialists from around the world to help Crew the session as Knowledge Workers, and organize the output of the DesignShop into the process model during and after the event. Through crossed wires, changing needs, and changes in the DesignShop design, the real talent of these experts was never maximized. Also,we [as a Crew] never got synchronized because of scheduling problems, missed communications, and a lack of context about each others needs. Towards the end of the shop, we were cooperating with each as we worked towards the creation of a content rich work product.

Unfortunately, we missed opportunities to learn from one another and build "team" in preparation for the next several DesignShops for the client.

Proposed Solution

How new Knowledge Workers are introduced to their work, role, and environment is very important.

I have had to introduce people to Knowledge Work before, and I came up with this design when I was the process facilitator for a DesignShop in which 12 of the 18 Crew members where new, and the other 6 were overworked core Crew .

I wanted to give the new Knowledge Workers an introduction to the major ideas behind the DesignShop process without involving any other core Crew members and came up with this simple design. I treated the new Knowledge Workers as participants and designed a 3 to 4 hour design. The session was treated as a standard session with all the trimmings - music, snacks, video capture, etc...

The Design

Module 1 - Introduction (45 min - 1 hr)

I treated this as an introduction to Knowledge Work in our Leadership Center [a Management Center type environment], not as an introduction to the upcoming DesignShop, like I would normally do in a WalkThru. After a brief welcome and explanation of some of the logistical issues I began a dialog about Knowledge Work, environment, and facilitation. After covering each of these topics and how they applied to our work, I went through the models discussion that we all are familiar with. After this, I had all of the participants go through a Take-A-Panel™ (TAP) with a twist exercise.

Module 2 - Take, Copy, and Share-A-Panel exercise. (45min - 1 hr)

This module got the participants involved with using their environment and gave them a chance to experience one another in a different way than they ever had before back at their office. The question list was short and went something like this;

Using only pictures answer the following questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why are you here?
  3. What would you like to learn this week?
  4. How do you treat people you invite to your house for dinner?
  5. What would you like us to help you remember [Birthdays, Anniversaries,etc.].
  6. Using words: Write down the first 10 words that come to mind when you think of the word "expectation?"

The standard TAP boiler plate was used to stress that each work should stand alone.

The participants were given 15 minutes to answer these questions, and were then handed another instruction. The Part b assignment told each person to go find a clipboard with paper and a set of colored pens in the production room, take these items back to the radiant room, and copy down someone else's panel using the same colors and style of the original author - all without talking. They were each given 15 minutes to do this exercise. The production room was unlabeled and no specific description was given. The pens and clipboards where neatly arranged on a table next to the copying machine.

Finally, each participant was given a chance to share the panel they copied with the group. This worked great with the participants I was with. The interpretation of some of the graphical answers was marvelous, and everyone was given a chance to explain any misinterpreted answers.

Module 3 - Mind Map/Expectations (45 min - 1 hr)

While the participants were copying down their information, I quickly generated a mind map for the word "expectation." I used the mind map to reinforce that the Learning Center was an environment that helped people to think and learn in different ways. Also, the topic of expectations is very powerful because it led right into a discussion about what the different jobs are within the DesignShop, and what is expected of everyone on the team, working hours, dress code, energy, focus, and roles.

Module 4 - Build-A-Document (45 min - 1 hr)

The last part of the session was spent actually generating a Journal documentation. I explained why we documented our work, and walked the participants through the process of creating a document for the day. I had created the Cover and Module dividers the week before, I had a copy of real time form the Models text from a prior DS, all of the written questions, all of the wall copies including the mind map, an Appendix containing the Axioms, an "About Your DesignShop" pamphlet, the Seven Domains model, the 5-E's of Education model, and the 10-Step model. The team built their own document and took it home with them that night. Each participant was also given a DesignShop Staff Manual.

Thoughts on Experience

The group I had responded well to this session. A lot of things that could have turned into issues didn't because they were addressed early on. I'm not saying things went perfect. However, when the questions started to come I could always refer to our first conversation and the ground work that was laid.

I believe this design works well for groups of 5 or more. If you are faced with a group smaller than five I believe some changes would be in order.

The major theme I tried to get across in every part of this Scan event was that things worked differently within the Leadership Center [or Management Center] environment. Participants in the Center are actively facilitated through a process by Knowledge Workers that enables them to discover their group genius.

Well, I hope this helps. If you have any ideas, thoughts, or questions, let me know. It was a great week, and I think we got a lot accomplished.


:{) Tom

Hi everyone,

In preparing for the upcoming DesignShop, we were asked by the client to include approximately a dozen of their people as Knowledge Workers. These individuals were people that might otherwise have been participants, as they are the folks that will take the output from the DesignShop as a blueprint for their ongoing systems/reengineering project. The idea was that they would take down a synthesis of what was said and done in the breakouts, so they could add value to the final product, but also have context that they could use going forward. We have tried this several times previously. We had an opportunity to spend five hours with these folks yesterday (in a conference room at their headquarters), and will have the day prior to the DesignShop also.

Linda, Terry and I put a lot of thought into how best to integrate them into the space and get them up to speed quickly, without getting them wrapped around the "I don't want to bus tables" axle. The principles we used were:

  • They need to have a Task to complete post DesignShop. They need to walk out of the space with a completed thing under their belts.
  • They need to understand that they are passive collectors of information, not active participants who are taking notes.
  • They need to understand that they are part of the environment and as such will have a major effect on the energy and focus of the participants, positively and negatively.

We put together an agenda for the five hour session, based on input from Bryan Coffman, Michael Kaufman and Matt Taylor. When they first arrive in the space on the day before the DesignShop, we will use the space-familiarization ideas that Tom Lloyd put out in an E-Mail a couple weeks ago. Our five hour session went very successfully, with the participants really getting into the authors and the TAP/SAP [Take-a-Page/Share-a-Page]. We ended up with a synthesis discussion that put a lot of ideas on the table of directions the team could go with their deliverable (not just a PowerPoint something or other.)

What follows is the agenda and the text of the Take-a-Page assignment.


Time Activity
10:00 - 10:15 Welcome, brief intro by Mark. Group exercise (how to pass three Koosh balls around a room in <3 seconds).
10:15 - 11:00 This is the Management Center- stories, video.
11:00 - 12:00 Readings (read a chapter)
12:00 - 12:30 Author to Author: What would these authors say to this group?
12:30 - 1:00 Three-Day agenda, work products, what it means to be a Knowledge Worker (used guidelines below).
1:00 - 1:30 Take-A-Page (see Take-A-Panel)
1:30 - 2:00 Share-A-Page (see Share-A-Panel)
2:00 - 3:00 Synthesis around how we get the project done, how we work as a team, what do we want in a template, technical needs, etc.


This is an individual assignment. Find a piece of flip chart paper anywhere in the room. Please write your name at the top of the paper. On the paper address the following questions. Write what you know, think, feel and see. Using the colored markers, create graphics and words to present your ideas in a "stand alone" form that anyone could view and understand. You may deal with these questions one at a time, as a group, or as a single model. You have 30 minutes to complete this assignment.

It is now April 6, 1997 [Editor's note: the assignment is couched into some future time frame and the participants are asked to look back on the upcoming DesignShop as if it were already completed]. You are in a meeting with the President of the company. He mentions that an editor from Fast Company magazine will be in town tomorrow and asked to interview a member of the team that created the work product following the November, 1996 DesignShop. This work product has been receiving incredibly positive reviews from within the organization and great word-of-mouth from outside. The President is not going to be in town, and would like you to meet with the magazine representative. As you lean back in your seat, you reflect about the work product, and why it was received so well.

  • Draw a template/outline/visual of the work product.
  • How are people using the work product? What kinds of information do they get from it? What kind of information (if any) does it accept in return?
  • What form does it take? What medium? Is it a dynamic or static document?
  • Fast Company magazine typically does articles on innovative, unusual and useful ideas. Outline the article. What "quotes" will be contained in the margins to draw readers attention?
  • Describe the way the work product was created.
  • When people mention the work product to you, what feature, quality, or utility is cited as its best aspect? How was that aspect designed in?
  • What was your special contribution to the work product? What skill or talent did you possess that enriched it?
  • How did the team determine what to include in the document and what to leave out?
  • What computer skills and computer hardware did you bring to the group?
  • What did you personally get out of the session?

(Fast Company is a magazine that has made a recent and dramatic appearance in the business press. It combines business acumen--one of the editors was formerly editor of the Harvard Business Review--with a desire to present new information or old information in a new way. It is targeted at companies that consider themselves fast movers in the marketplace and people that want their company to move fast. They typically do articles on innovative, unusual, exciting, and useful ideas, or they take conventional ideas and present them in an innovative, unusual, exciting and useful ways.)

Knowledge Worker Guidelines

  1. To "facilitate" means "to make easy". Our job as facilitators is to make it easy for the participants to concentrate all their attention and energies on a complex set of challenges, problems and decisions. We are placing them in a highly interactive and creative environment, removing all distractions and barriers to creativity, challenging them to think "outside the box", and driving them towards emerging conclusions.
  2. Our intent is to produce a Work Product that is finished when we leave and is highly useful.
  3. Be sensitive that you are guests in someone else's shop. We believe in and value what we do, even if it looks unconventional. Experience before you judge. Allow yourself to be facilitated. Understand that this will probably be an intense experience.
  4. Look farther than your task. Be cognizant of all that is going on around you.
  5. Be invisible. Avoid things like disruptive noise, side conversations, running. You can take walks if you need to decompress. Even little things like the crunching noise as you eat potato chips or the click of a camera shutter is very noticeable at the wrong time.
  6. Be ready for rapid shifts in what you thought was the scheduled agenda.
  7. We have no hierarchy or privileged classes at the Management Center.
  8. There are lots of ways to collect data. Also, be alert to the underlying "why".
  9. Go with the flow.
  10. You may need to roll up your sleeves and help us design.
  11. You will get lots of questions. We try to get an answer back in 5 minutes on ANY request. If you don't know, flag another Knowledge Worker.
  12. We arrive 90 minutes before the participants. We generally stay long after they leave. We put in long hours. Keep an eye on each other's energy.
  13. Resist the temptation to converse with the participants. We do not want to draw their attention away from their work. Especially do not converse with participants about how the DesignShop process is going or seems to them. That would be a real disservice to the event. We want the participants "in the game" the whole time, not to step back to the sidelines.
  14. You will be exposed to important proprietary information. It must stay proprietary.
  15. Dress is casual/business casual. Be comfortable. Wear comfortable shoes.
  16. The Management Center is fun. Enjoy!


copyright © 1996, MG Taylor Corporation, Chip Saltsman, Tom Lloyd. All rights reserved
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