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To boost knowledge transfer, ask lawyers to tell stories, and give cash to the good ones

Rather than ask lawyers and paralegals to crank out deadly-dull postmortems, suggest that they write “human stories that people can connect with.” This idea comes from the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 86, May 2009 at 23 and the experience of the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). If you learned something from a contract negotiation, for example, write a little vignette rather than a bloodless clinical dissection.

Three other tips from the briefing are to (1) encourage honesty in the tale, (2) highlight contributors (“which include outside interests, to help readers connect with contributors and their ideas”), and (3) publicize the learning stories. The IFC has 3,225 employees who, during an average month, view the lessons learned expressed in stories 1,800 times.

The fourth suggestion really caught my eye. “Readers can rate each posting by how interesting it is (not its technical perfection). Additionally, the stories are rated by a panel of judges, who award $1,500 twice a year to the top-ranked post; the next-ranked gets $500.”

A progressive general counsel who wants to boost knowledge dissemination might encourage a story-telling mode and put some cash on the line.