Monday, November 12, 2007

Please Save the Knowledge!

Try this on for size:

People are not your most valuable asset!
The things they know and the way they learn and apply what they know are.

Right? I'm talking about knowledge and hows its applied. You might say, "True, but I need the person to do that for me." Maybe not.

So, I'm about to begin a series on ways we can use "2.0" to save the knowledge from folks transitioning out of our organizations.

There are a heck of a lot of approaches to this end. Some approaches exist and some are highly theoretical at the moment. As I see it, so called "transition" folks fall in to one of three categories.
  1. Retirees
  2. Voluntary Emigration (employee left on their own)
  3. Involuntary Emigration (employee was asked to leave)
While harvesting the useful knowledge from non-retiree emigrants is an interesting business problem, based on the feed back from Learning 2007 and from other discussions in the field, tapping retirees is the more pertinent topic these days. (and by the way I think we will design a system to do both at the same time!)

So, I suppose the place to start is by identifying what problems the system should solve.
  1. When employees retire, they take with them valuable knowledge and experience
  2. Contracting retired employees back only delays the problem of lost knowledge
  3. New hires seldom benefit from working with the senior ranks of the company
There is a system that can fix this. Wait before you think of it, NO its not a community.

O.K. I lied, it is a bit of a community but tossing a blog at this problem isn't going to solve it. If it were that easy, it'd be done by now. In addition, just connecting people to people won't solve it or would be rolling in money.

Nope the solution doesn't exit yet. At least not as a whole.

A working system will solve the problem by:
  1. Connecting retires to everyone
    • (Before they leave AND after they are gone and we'll make it worth their while)
  2. Capturing valuable knowledge intelligently
    • (i.e recognize each interaction they have, what is is, who its with and catalog it)
  3. Tap their daily life quietly and efficiently
    • (let everything they do be a contribution, each time they type an email give them an easy option to capture that experience into "teachable moment")
  4. Push them into it
    • (make them do it, force them, and above all make it easy and seamless)
Lets kick off by exploring those 4 bullet points. No it doesn't yet discuss the delivery of this "captured" knowledge to people who need it or a less web based approach of juniors spending meaningful time with seniors. However, its a start. Next time, we'll begin blowing this out into a system.

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