Dr. Dan: Gee, had high hopes and thought that IBM had invented some sort of new fangled de-vicey kind of thang that would yank knowledge right out of our heads. Turns out that this is a different kind of article, but one that falls into the "look who just caught up" category!
Okay, the problem is real -- baby boomers will be retiring by the dozens (or more!) very soon. And you'll get no argument from me that organizations need to be working hard to capture that knowledge before said baby boomers are off climbing mountains or sailing the seven (or so) seas.
Having said that, this article is more about how use of technology can supposedly "capture retiring boomer knowledge." Well, that's the claim. But it pretty much falls down the stairs after that.
Okay, here's the jist of it of the problem as I see it -- and this is a two part problem.
Part #1: You see, employees have this thing called "knowledge" and apparently HR now needs to "find ways to hold onto and share historical industry and company knowledge." From a "what's wrong with this picture" perspective, I'm very lost at exactly HOW the HR department became the knowledge capture band leaders. Or for that matter, WHEN. And who in HR developed what Knowledge Management strategy? Yeah, thought so.
Part #2: The entire problem apparently can be "solved" by adapting "social technologies" by "creating profiles, sharing information and collaborating on social networks." Sold by guess who? (And you get one guess, and yes, you are allowed to look at who wrote the article and what company said author works for.)
Yes, organizations do need to capture knowledge before it walks out the door. And yes, socialization is critical within an organization. However, simply tossing out "social technologies" with the mistaken belief that they will be magically utilized, and in doing so will somehow by sheer HR manager desire alone then result in the capture of critical organizational knowledge...is...well, it's pretty outright silly.
You see, it takes a bit more than tossing out technology into the workplace to capture knowledge. There is the whole issue of determining what knowledge needs to be captured -- which speaks to having a Knowledge Management strategy that addresses the organizational knowledge gaps (of today and in the future). That's because not all knowledge is "created equal." In fact some of it is darn important....and other, not so much.
Then there is the cultural issue -- the necessity to inculcate within the workforce a desire to share knowledge, to capture it, to transfer it. And then to actually utilize it. And so as in many organizations where the employees are treated badly over years and years, simply tossing out the social networking tools and expecting good things to happen is like making offerings to the "knowledge capture fairy" and will be about as successful.
Yes, there are some valid points in the article about knowledge soon heading out the door. But that's nothing new, and this seems more like a scare tactic (as in, "buy my software says the large company or doom on you, doom on you!). Unfortunately they lost me when it became clear that this was simply yet another attempt by an IT vendor to hawk their wares, without any thought put into how to actually successfully implement a Knowledge Management program.