Our Executive Knowledge Transfer (XKT) process addresses the kinds of high-level planning and relationship management tasks that are unique to executive roles. 

It provides practical hands-on facilitation to ease the transition for the successor while reducing the risk to the business. By the end of the XKT the process you will have: 

  • Defined and captured your departing executive’s unique expertise
  • Moved critical knowledge and skills into the heads and hands of one or more successors 
  • Tested and measured whether the transfer is complete  
  • Reduced ramp up time and productivity loss


How It Works

Each EKT is led by a certified facilitator and typically unfolds as follows.

Step 1: Define & Prioritize Knowledge Areas

To start, we engage your team in a simple, but highly structured Q&A to identify your departing executive’s unique knowledge areas. Within an hour we can chart these results in a simple matrix, so you can prioritize the knowledge areas that present the highest risk to your business. The prioritization drives what knowledge will be transferred first and to whom. It is often best to work with multiple successors so that the risk is spread across several people. 

Step 2: Establish a Timeframe

We work with your team to analyze how many available hours the departing executive has left. A standard 30-days’ notice may sound like a lot of time, but once you count unused vacation days and other priority projects, those hours quickly disappear

Step 3: Break Down Priority Areas into Teachable Tasks

Through one-on-one interviews, we get deep into the executive’s valuable tacit knowledge and experience, helping them break down their knowledge areas into specific tasks that can be taught in an hour. From there, we create Skill Development Plans (SDPs) that lay out the tasks in priority order to guide successor(s) as they get up to speed. 

Step 4: Transfer Knowledge

Within as little as one or two business days, you gain a thorough plan that effectively uses each available hour between project kickoff and the executive’s last day to transfer high priority knowledge. Execution of the plan may be spread over weeks or months at the discretion of the team and involves structured and highly efficient sessions between the executive and their successors. Our facilitators remain on hand to monitor early sessions and troubleshoot throughout.

Step 5: Test & Measure Knowledge Transfer

We give your team a set of knowledge transfer test questions—a hallmark of our process—that quickly measures whether knowledge was transferred successfully. They reveal if the successor will meet the standard needed to perform independently. We also help the incoming successor develop a list of existing resources (e.g. documentation, contacts, samples, templates, etc.) that will be available after the departing executive’s last day. 

Step 6: Manage What You Don't Know

Most successors don’t know what they don’t know when assuming the departing executive’s responsibilities. Often, neither does the executive’s manager. With our process, by the time your executive leaves, you and your team will not only know what high priority skills and knowledge were transferred, but also what lower priority skills were not covered. The remaining risk is known and isolated. You can plan to address it or deem the risk at an acceptable level. Either way, no one is left guessing. 


Details & Logistics


A typical XKT costs a $25,000 flat fee with no additional expenses.


All work is done remotely via virtual meetings with screen sharing. Requests for in-office time can be accommodated, but are rarely necessary or advantageous.  


Setting up a typical XKT includes 12-15 hours of hands-on work over 1-4 weeks, depending on the urgency and availability of participants. Upon completion, knowledge transfer can begin immediately at whatever pace is appropriate, lasting from 2-52 weeks.  


An XKT can usually be scheduled to start within 7-10 business days. In emergency situations (from surprise or urgent departures), work can often begin in as little as 24 hours. 

Participation Requirements

  • Executive's Boss: 3 hours to initiate process, set priorities, select participants, monitor progress, and hold everyone accountable.
  • Executive: 12 hours with facilitator to define and deconstruct their unique areas of expertise and train in fundamentals of successful knowledge transfer.
  • Successor(s): 6 hours to train in the fundamentals of successful knowledge transfer and prep for knowledge transfer sessions.
  • Administrative Support: 2 hours to help with scheduling, technology, and other logistics.  

Please note that the time required for actual knowledge transfer is dynamic and depends on how many skills need to be transferred.


Contact Our Team

Want to know more or talk through the particulars of your situation? Please feel free to contact our team at (206) 547-1775 or tim@stevetrautman.com.


Story from the Field

Jack Ma

Executive Transitions: What's Not in the Job Description? 

When Alibaba founder Jack Ma announced he would resign, the company’s shares fell in after-hours trading, even though Ma’s successor had been named. It got me thinking about the role of knowledge transfer between senior executives. A little while back, we worked with an exiting CEO to capture 15 years of unique knowledge, skills and finesse. We deconstructed what he’d been doing – some of which surprised his team.

Here's what was on his list >>