The power of retained knowledge.

Shawn Casemore • 2 Comment
Posted: February 15, 2012

Attrition, promotion and resignation. These three actions are more detrimental to the sanctity of internal business intelligence than any other activity.

Knowledge retention is one of the greatest threats to sustainable business success in today’s volatile economic climate. The solution to retaining best practices is in finding a simple yet effective means of making implicit knowledge explicit; and explicit knowledge implicit.

The structure and size of an organization will impact the means by which this is accomplished, however here are some proven solutions to retaining key organizational and operational knowledge.

Capturing implicit knowledge: Quality programs such as ISO were first adapted as a result of the recognition that consistency is a key element in maintaining quality. However, when human performance is factored into the equation, we quickly recognize that procedures are only as good as the paper upon which they are written. The rapid pace in which knowledge is shared today, often results in documented processes being out of date before the ink even drys. I recall early in my career being provided several mammoth binders to review upon acceptance of a new position, the majority of which I later found were out of date or irrelevant. Today, companies such as Home Depot and Teva Pharmaceuticals have implemented social media platforms as a means of both increasing communication and capturing (and retaining) implicit knowledge for use across the organization. Creating these internal organizational communities will be the future of knowledge retention and sharing.

Capturing explicit knowledge: Finding a means to introduce new staff to business process, culture and internal politics is a key to both shortening the learning curve and improving the retention rate. Creating mentor relationships for new staff is the most economical and efficient means by which to make a seamless transition.  An article in Forbes magazine identified that 70% of Fortune 500 companies have a mentoring program in place. My own studies have shown that an even greater percentage of business owners and executives have an informal mentor upon whom they call regularly for business advise and perspective. Initiating a mentoring program is an effective means by which to capture and share explicit knowledge.

As Sir Francis Bacon once pointed out “Knowledge is Power.” Capturing and sharing knowledge throughout an organization is the single greatest means by which to improve operational performance.

© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.

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