Knowledge Management

In: Business and Management

Submitted By amirkheime
Words 6363
Pages 26
Better Practices for Retaining Organizational Knowledge:
Lessons from the Leading Edge
David W. De Long and Thomas Davenport

n 1998, after significantly downsizing for ten years, the Tennessee Valley Authority
(TVA) realized that the median age of its
13,000 remaining employees was 48. Because most of its workers retired well before age 60, this meant that over the next ten years the
TVA, the largest electrical utility in the United
States, was bound to lose many of those it depended on to run its nuclear, coal-fired, and hydroelectric power plants efficiently and safely. Those employees, and the knowledge they embodied, would be hard to replace.
Changing workforce demographics, marked by an aging labor force, more competitive recruiting, and faster turnover among younger employees, are creating unprecedented knowledge-retention problems in many industries, threatening to reduce the capacity for innovation, growth, and operational efficiency. A recent study of 26 firms conducted by the
Accenture Institute for Strategic Change documented the danger lost knowledge poses for organizational performance in the global chemical industry.1 But, of course, operational and institutional amnesia imperil more than just the chemical industry.
This article outlines a set of “better practices” that organizations currently are implementing to address these concerns. The practices shared here are not claimed to be “best in class,” because the challenges of knowledge retention are so new that a rigorous comparison cannot be established. At this moment, no


one is ready to claim that they know what
“best practices” are when confronting the threat of losing knowledge critical to organizational performance. Nevertheless, the early success of the initiatives described in this emerging area provides useful lessons about the options global…...

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