Cash comes and goes, and so does knowledge. Cash Flow… Knowledge Flow? While Cash Flow will always be on the minds of business leaders and stakeholders, is the same importance ever given to the acquisition and loss of knowledge? Without enough knowledge in the business, it is vulnerable to failure from lack of intellect to solve problems, to lead teams, and to convince new customers to buy; it must then look outside for expertise to bring plans and sales to fruition — just as it may turn to inward investment as a means to grow, or survive. Look after knowledge as you look after cash.
As people leave a business, voluntarily or by request, they take with them perhaps years of business knowledge and industry expertise. That is quite some asset to write off!
This is why, for example, mentoring is gaining in popularity by companies seeing wily old hands retire, or suffer ejection in economic downturns. Mentoring is now seen as a sensible way to pass on knowledge from one generation of employees to the next. Hold on: when did the practice of oral tradition get replaced by the written word?
There are plenty of boring ways to preserve corporate knowledge: knowledge of failures and successes; of good procedure; of effective practice. The explosion of video content tells us that people are not generally willing to absorb manuals, but not many people would be fazed by one page. A page in a literal or figurative sense is a digestible piece, whether it’s a physical sheet of paper with sentences on, or equivalent portion of information expressed in pictorial, audio or virtual form. One could term this snackable portion a One-Page Document.
Try writing down or record yourself explaining How To... solve a problem you`ve encountered, or which are the best resources for key information? Businesses would do themselves no harm in encouraging employees at all levels, for they are all experts in their turn — and especially those committed to the firm and its perpetuation — to take half an hour a week to capture something they would regard as useful knowledge that might help the company out one day. A One-Page Document that can shared in any snackable form. People won’t swallow encyclopaedias in the main; but most of us enjoy a snack.
Experience shows that knowledge can be misused or even over-important, but that should not discourage businesses from trying to retain it as an asset as valuable as cash in the bank. Every penny counts?
Lessons learned, but then forgotten; learned people sent away;
Just because we won before, it doesn’t mean we’ll win today!
Written rules and words of wisdom, shelved, addressed with levity —
These are things we can’t ignore, if we desire longevity.
Knowledge! It is double-edged: an asset (handled properly),
It is Power, so goes the saying, your key to oligopoly!
But lean on it, because it was the recipe for former glories,
And it may vex you terribly — the world’s moved on to newer stories.
Your attitude to what you know will shape the destiny of those
Bound to you in the Corporation… how the Corporation goes.
Yet laughable as it may seem, to stave off tears and discontent
I recommend the virtue found within the ‘One-Page Document`.
21 December 2018
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