Knowledge Retention Strategies

Posted by Arjun Thomas

Knowledge attrition is increasing at an extremely rapid rate as companies lose portions of their workforce, either quickly or over time. Establishing a strategy to nip this in the bud would save them millions, if not billions of dollars every year.

The greatest deterrence to knowledge attrition is a robust KM initiative . This enables existing information to circulate efficiently and thereby reducing the impact of attrition on the knowledge of the company. However, lets face it even the most robust Knowledge retention strategies cant hope to replace a lost knowledge asset.

This awareness in companies of how knowledge attrition affects then has prompted a large number of companies to institutionalize certain processes to capture as much knowledge from their employees as possible. Listed below are a few of these methods ( you might want to check if your company uses any of these strategies of retention )

  1. CoP’s and internal networks
  2. Interviews
  3. Videotaping
  4. SME directories
  5. Repositories
  6. After action / project milestone reviews
  7. Mentoring Programs
  8. Knowledge Maps
  9. Recruiting Strategies
  10. Retention Strategies

While a lot of these seem very useful a large percentage of companies find it difficult to measure the effectiveness they have. Knowledge transfer quality seems to be the single biggest reason why corporates shy away from establishing robust knowledge retention strategies.

Validating the quality of knowledge transfer can be very difficult so there are other ways around the problem. Identifying critical information areas and concentrating on these ensure that a higher quality of knowledge is recorded and retained instead of a “Jack of all trades – Master of none” approach.

There are a ton of research articles out there on this topic, so browse around , now that you know what to look for.

If you use any of the methods mentioned above to capture knowledge within your project do leave us a comment.

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  5. An Introduction to Knowledge Management

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6 Comments to “Knowledge Retention Strategies”

  • [...] I came across a post on knowledge retention by Arjun [...]

  • Hi, I am posting a few of the comments folks left on LinkedIn.com. The original URL is http://www.linkedin.com/newsArticle?viewDiscussion=&articleID=24974304&gid=47726&trk=add-news-lnk-cThOon0JumNFomgJt7dBpSBA . I am posting the original content without any edits.


    Cristoph Schmaltz wrote:

    Aleksandar, I recently wrote a blog post on knowledge retention. I primarily focused on informal, less structured approaches to it.

    If you have time, I would love to hear your comments: http://www.headshift.com/blog/2008/12/should-knowledge-retention-be.php

    Best,
    Christoph


    Jeff Stenke wrote:

    I have been establishing effective KM strategies within my company for many years. We have most of those listed by Arjun. Lately my attention has been focused on the special case of expert knowledge retention and transfer.

    I see three primary value drivers:

    - minimizing business disruption (due to loss of SMEs)
    - acclerating competency (of the newer hires)
    - increasing performance (raising a team’s capabilities to that of the SME)
    I’ve also found that you may need a new process or two. For example, we’ve introduced knowledge harvesting to capture critical, at-risk expertise when there is little time before the expert leaves. We also have developed a knowledge coaching process that takes technical mentoring to the next level of effectiveness. I think you also have to focus some of the KM processes somewhat differently than for general knowledge transfer. I’ve been sharing and discussing some of these experiences at http://www.retainknowhow.com .

    Let me know how these ideas compare to your own.

    John Tropea wrote:

    great article…I like this bit “Identifying critical information areas and concentrating on these ensure that a higher quality of knowledge is recorded and retained instead of a “Jack of all trades – Master of none” approach.”

    Check out http://www.acidlabs.org/2008/11/04/enterprise-20-identify-problem-determine-solution-then-tools/


    End of comments

  • Hey Arjun, those are some good strategies. Let me know if you want the survey results behind our recent research: http://www.i4cp.com/news/2009/02/02/lack-of-knowledge-retention-the-hidden-cost-of-corporate-downsizing

  • we do some of these in different parts of our business
    CoP’s and internal networks
    Interviews
    Repositories
    After action / project milestone reviews
    Mentoring Programs

  • strategic change management…

    Great post. My approach to strategic change management says the quality of the first five percent determines what happens in the rest of the process. This same principle applies to many situations….

  • Hey Arjun,

    Found this to be very helpful.

    Thanks,
    Josh

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