Is Your Corporate Knowledge Walking Out The Front Door?  

Team member waving at each other after their corporate knowledge meeting

In today’s business climate, corporate knowledge is more important than ever. With many baby boomers reaching retirement age, a lot of the corporate knowledge you depend upon is walking out the front door. This is a major demographic bubble that is bursting, and it can have a significant impact on your business. Without corporate knowledge, your business may be at a disadvantage. You may have trouble keeping up with the competition and find it difficult to attract and retain top talent. Corporate knowledge is an essential part of your business, and you need to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t walk out the door with your baby boomers. 

Internal programs need to be developed to transfer and capture knowledge 

Many companies face the challenge of losing knowledge when employees retire or leave the company. DeLong (2004) breaks this knowledge loss into 3 distinct parts – the first are macro forces that turn this knowledge loss into a threat, the second part is a framework around a retention method, and the third and last part speaks to the challenges faced when attempting to implement this framework.  In addition to this, another article argues that exiting employees take more than what they know with them, they also take the information about whom they know (Parise, Cross, Davenport 2006).  

We will first look at the risks associated with knowledge loss in your company.  There is no clear-cut answer for this as it is a multi-dimensional answer.  Whilst we could delve further into DeLong (2004), who breaks down this crisis into sub-headings and outlines what he believes the dangers are, then goes on to talk about retention and difficulties in implementation we would prefer to focus on our perception and experience, that is that this can be a serious problem, as it can lead to a decline in productivity and an increase in mistakes. One way to combat this issue is to develop internal programs that not only transfer knowledge from one generation to the next but also capture it so that it can be easily accessed by anyone who needs it. There are many benefits to this approach. Firstly, it ensures that critical information is not lost when employees leave the company. In addition, it makes it easier for new employees to get up to speed on company procedures and processes. Lastly, it helps to improve communication and collaboration among employees. By taking these steps, companies can ensure that they have a rich store of knowledge that can be used to improve their operations and drive their business forward. 

The problem: It can be expensive, time-consuming, and rushed

One of the key problems with capturing knowledge is that it takes time and effort to do it properly.  All too often, it is seen as a low priority compared to other tasks that occur day-to-day (the ‘fires’) or that need to be completed during a handover process, and as a result, it is rushed and can result in a poor transition. This can lead to a loss of valuable knowledge that will be crucial to the success of your new team. In addition, if knowledge is not captured correctly, it can be extremely difficult and expensive to retrieve it later. For these reasons, it is essential to ensure that knowledge capture is given the time and attention it deserves. Only then can you be sure that valuable knowledge will not be lost and that it will be available when you need it.  

Size of Organization: Cost of Product, Features, & Effectiveness

It is obvious that the above attributes are important when considering your solution, however, have you ever considered if one holds more weight than the other?  The truth is that there is no study that stipulates this – every organisation is different and has different needs.  So, let’s take a balanced approach to justification: 

  1. It is important to right-size the solution when trying to solve a problem within an organisation.  
  2. The cost of the solution should be relative to the size of the organisation and the features that are required.  
  3. It is also important to consider how many people will be using the solution and what type of organisation it is. For example, a small business may not need as much support as a large corporation. Similarly, a non-profit organisation may not have the same budget as a for-profit organisation.  
  4. When trying to find a cost-effective solution, it is important to keep these factors in mind. Otherwise, the solution may be too costly or too complex for the organisation. 

Relieving this transition period is paramount to shorter employee onboarding ensuring that you are using technology to the best of your ability is principal – you can try software such as ProcessPro to help achieve this efficiently, cost-effectively and with maximal impact.

The solution is obvious: Process Mapping

Process mapping is a visual tool that allows you to see the individual steps in a process and how they relate to each other. This can be helpful whether you’re trying to streamline a process or solve a problem, as well as scalable. Process maps are easy to create and can be developed quickly, making them an effective solution no matter the size of the project, or organization. Process mapping is also flexible – it can be used for simple tasks or more complex processes. Because it’s visual, it’s easy to share with others and get their input. Whether you’re looking to improve efficiency or troubleshoot a problem, process mapping is a powerful tool that can help you get the job done. 

As the baby boomer generation retires, an alarming amount of institutional knowledge is being lost – we know this. We also know that traditional handover processes are often ineffective in capturing this information for future use (Parise, Cross, Davenport 2006). Process mapping is a cost and time-effective tool for ensuring that critical knowledge is not forgotten. If you haven’t tried Process Mapping yet, what are you waiting for?  

About the Author:

DeLong, DW 2004, Lost Knowledge : Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce, Oxford University Press, New York. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [1 November 2022]. 
Salvatore Parise, Rob Cross, Thomas H. Davenport 2006, “Strategies for Preventing a Knowledge-Loss Crisis”, MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 31-38. 

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