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Retaining Today's Knowledge for Tomorrow's Workforce
American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC, March 2008, Pages: 229
Developing talent and leveraging business knowledge are at the forefront of the management agenda. Previous reports indicated that best-practice organizations were leveraging a toolkit of approaches—including communities of practice (CoPs), interviews, mentoring programs, knowledge mapping, and many more techniques—to identify, capture, and transfer critical knowledge. Since that time, hundreds of organizations have embraced and benefited from these practices.
However, rapid organizational growth coupled with looming waves of baby boomer retirement has made the problem more evergreen than episodic for executives. The challenge today is how to create an integrated work force management and knowledge retention and transfer strategy. A quick scan of publicly available research shows that many of today’s organizations face the same knowledge retention and transfer (KR&T) issues, regardless of industry, annual revenue, or number of employees.
- The retirement of a record 77 million baby boomers has the potential to result in huge losses of critical tacit knowledge, including organizational and technical knowledge related to key processes and competencies.
- The problems are not limited to retirement. Churn within organizations and new business models for off shoring work necessitate careful identification and transfer of knowledge.
- Organizations often have difficulty pinpointing when and where knowledge loss or knowledge needs might occur.
- Employees—especially new hires—are facing steeper, longer learning curves at the same time that employers are looking for faster revenue and higher productivity.
- KR&T efforts are complicated by generational gaps that influence how people work and collaborate with one another.
- Knowledge loss and time-to-competency issues for new hires threaten to compromise organizations’ growth strategies.
The purpose of this study is to examine the steps that leading organizations have taken to mitigate the loss of critical knowledge. Typically, these steps involve developing a framework for knowledge retention and transfer that encompasses the employment life cycle and aligns with key business and other internal strategies.
The organizations selected for deep, detailed study through structured data collection and site visits (aka “best-practice partners” or “partners”) demonstrate innovative performance in one or more of the following study focus areas.
1. Developing a knowledge retention strategy
2. Designing knowledge retention and transfer processes and approaches
3. Implementing knowledge retention and transfer processes and approaches
4. Evaluating success
The goal of this study was to examine organizations that excel in one or more aspects of the scope and to aggregate the best practices from all the researched organizations. To achieve this goal, our study team selected potential bestpractice partners that had demonstrated excellence and a history of success in the four scope areas. Project sponsors then determined the final list of partners by selecting from among the candidates.
Sponsor and Partner Organizations
Chapter 1 It’s Not Just About Retirement Anymore
Chapter 2 The Human Capital Management Challenge
Chapter 3 Finding and Bridging the Knowledge Gaps—KR&T Approaches
Chapter 4 Enabling Technologies
Chapter 5 Making It Work—Governance and Partnerships
Chapter 6 Making the Case for Change.
Partner Organization Case Studies
The Aerospace Corporation
Michelin North America Inc.
- The Aerospace Corporation
- Fluor Corporation
- Michelin North America Inc.
- Rolls-Royce plc