Exploring The Experiences Of Technical Coaches Using Rules-Of-Thumb

Open Access
Poduch, Jr., Stanley P.
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 21, 2010
Committee Members:
  • William J Rothwell, Dissertation Advisor
  • William J Rothwell, Committee Chair
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Member
  • Ian E Baptiste, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • rules-of-thumb
  • tacit knowledge
  • sharing personal knowledge
ABSTRACT Research literature defined rules-of-thumb as informal guidelines, shortcuts to contextual knowledge, epitomes of tacit knowledge, and codes used by both experts and novices in exchanging knowledge. Building upon those thoughts the objective of this case study was exploring and understanding the experience of using rules-of-thumb when sharing personal knowledge in the workplace. The researcher observed, interviewed, and analyzed the data collected from 12 technical coaches (TCs) working in the same company. The company provided customer service operations. The TCs were subject matter experts required to share what they know, what works, with their team everyday. Data analysis followed the thematic approach suggested by van Manen. The results of this study were a collection of 300 transcontextual and contextual rules-of-thumb sharing the experience of what it is like for a TC to use rules-of-thumb when sharing knowledge. Transcontextual refers to applying across a variety of contexts. Contextual refers to applying to the context of the TC’s experience. The collection of 300 rules-of-thumb came from the direct experiences, the context, of the participants yet could apply across a variety of contexts. This explorative study also exposed: hard and soft rules-of-thumb; the tacit and explicit nature of rules-of-thumb; the operationalization of tacit knowledge via collecting rules-of-thumb; and how rules-of-thumb flowed through the SECI model of Nonaka and Takeuchi. Additional insights included: transcontextual rules-of-thumb connect people and points to what works across different contexts; and, contextual rules-of-thumb connect people within a context to what works in that particular context. Reflecting upon the findings, the researcher presented additions to the literature, potential implications, and future research possibilities regarding rules-of-thumb. The researcher concluded the experience of using rules-of-thumb when sharing knowledge was an experience of sharing of one’s self, connecting people, and pointing to what works.