Visualization-based Instrument for TMS Development in Teams


Idea and purpose

The visualization-based development of transactive memory systems (TMS) is a theoretically grounded and web-based interactive visualization system for the step-by-step diagnosis and development of TMSs in small teams. A TMS describes how team members make individual knowledge available through specific communication and a shared understanding of “who knows what”.

The instrument can help teams to develop a better understanding of who knows what (for a specific context, e.g. a project) through visualizing their TMS in a simplified way. Further, the instrument helps teams to critically reflect communication processes among team members which are critical for successful knowledge sharing. Based on the results, teams can identify and develop specific interventions to optimize their communication and make better use of existing knowledge resources.


General Conditions and Technical Requirements

The instrument was designed for teams with members who work together on something concrete. The technical application of the instrument requires access to computers and the internet for all team members. The web-based approach allows that each team member can enter the needed information individually and independently in a database. The initial analysis and visualization of a TMS might take several hours – depending on the team size and complexity. We recommend to plan several team meetings for the preparation, analysis, and discussion/development of follow-up interventions.



For the successful use of the instrument the participation of all team members including the supervisor of a given team, is required. Further, a person responsible for the intervention should be defined (e.g. team leader). Ideally, the entire process is accompanied by experts (e.g. coaches, consultants, scientists).



Before the instrument is used with a concrete team, the objectives and milestones of the measure as well as the context, persons involved, responsibilities, and data protection are clarified. Then, a 5-step process follows as described here:

  1. First, the responsible person (e.g. team leader) creates a team profile by following the instructions in the web-based tool. Further, the person defines the overall goal of the team and names the team members including their core responsibilities or tasks in relation to the team’s task or concrete matter (e.g. a project).
  2. Second, the team members enter individual knowledge areas (knowledge items) which are relevant for the team and the project, as precisely and concretely as possible in the tool.
  3. Third, the quality of the existing communication processes is assessed. Each team member individually assesses the communication with the other team members by answering several questions. After this step is completed by all team members, the tool is used to create a visualization (graph), depicting the team members, their specific areas of knowledge, and the communication between the team members. From this point on, the visualized TMS is permanently available and can be updated at any time.
  4. Fourth, the team members evaluate on the basis of the visualization to what extent they knew about the specific knowledge areas of their colleagues. This information is again integrated. Based on the results, conclusions can be drawn about the quality of the current TMS.
  5. Fifth, the intervention experience and the resulting TMS visualization results are discussed and can be used by the team members to identify potentials and to initiate appropriate team-specific interventions to further improve the TMS. Depending on the results, team workshops or other procedures presented on the design platform of the CRC 768 can be used to promote networking and the exchange of knowledge.

The procedure and theoretical background are explained in detail in the following description [LINK ZUR VERÖFFENTLICHUNG]. You can download the tool here [LINK ZUM TOOL].