Knowledge retention: What practitioners need to know
Essentially, knowledge retention and transfer should lead to organizational learning, which should be part of the fabric of the organization. Important aspects of the organizational learning formula are:
- Develop “reflective practitioners” (the Barr Foundation, has a Quarterly Reflection Process; NASA’s Academy for Program/Project Engineering Leadership has a Knowledge Sharing Initiative to promote reflective practitioners).
- Create incentives for encouraging learning (Rockefeller Foundation; Skoll Foundation; The World Bank; and others have learning and knowledge sharing proficiencies as part of their annual staff reviews).
- Stress learning at all levels—individual learning, team/group learning and inter-project learning (Packard Foundation, has a peer learning collaborative with cross-program teams; develop a lessons learned process and generic templates for target audiences).
The message is clear: Organizations must be proactive in developing, applying and institutionalizing knowledge retention and transfer activities to be competitive in the years ahead. According to a June 2009 report, “Leveraging HR and KM in a Challenging Economy,” by the Society for Human Resource Management, those organizations that have embraced and optimized knowledge management practices as part of their business strategy are the leaders in their field and have gained a competitive advantage over their peers. Developing a KR strategy and associated processes are critical components in dealing with potential knowledge loss. Start now before it’s too late!