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If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.Dalai Lama

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Preserve critical know-how

Preserve critical know-how

A large part of a company’s strengths resides in the tacit know-how of many individuals. This know-how is not easy to identify and formalize. How can you avoid losing this invaluable capital?

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What is the cost of losing an employee? Recruiting and training a replacement, operational disruption, loss of knowledge, etc.—costs which, while difficult to assess, are nonetheless significant. In particular, the costs connected to the loss of know-how can be particularly high, reveals a survey of business leaders conducted by the authors of Critical Knowledge Transfer. Considering the loss of professional networks, delayed projects, lost contracts and errors made by inexperienced successors, 53% of the surveyed leaders estimated the financial cost of losing a key employee at somewhere between $50,000 and $300,000. 11% even estimated this cost at over $1 million! And the stakes are multiplied when the company is faced with massive attrition. When launching the 787 Dreamliner, a strategic project for future of the company, Boeing had to consider the fact that half of its technical personnel was going to be eligible for retirement.

Between the massive wave of baby boomer retirements and the greater mobility of younger generations, combating the erosion of know-how has become a major challenge for many business organizations. Despite the importance of this looming threat, however, over half of surveyed leaders recognize that their organization does not have a satisfactory response to this problem. Despite the implementation of sometimes ambitious knowledge management tools and processes, the losses remain palpable. In fact, approaches designed to systematically record knowledge too often focus on the volume of information rather than its real utility. Worse, attempts to deliberately capture complex and largely tacit know-how in formalized knowledge units may actually allow essential knowledge to fall through the cracks.

Armed with some fifteen years of feedback from experience, the experts invite us to adopt a more differentiated vision of knowledge transfer processes. Systematizing knowledge formalization is not enough. Rather, the organization must acquire reflexes and a range of approaches that can ensure the successful transfer of the complex and tacit knowledge possessed by many individuals.


In this synopsis:
- Capture the rich diversity of knowledge of your experts
- Transfer tacit knowledge within the organization
- Lay the foundations of successful communities of practice

Synopsis n.243b


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