Monday, February 06, 2006

Chief Information Officers Can Help Prevent Baby Boomer Brain Drain

Wtih the oldest baby boomers six years away from retirement, Susannah Patton, writing for CIO suggests that corporate chief informaton officers should be taking "a leading role in preventing baby boomer brain drain by being prepared to respond quickly when management decides the company needs a KM system to help retain crucial knowledge." She discusses projects at Rolls Royce, Northrop Grumman, and others to ensure that knowledge didn't disappear with retiring employees. Among other things, she provides "3 Easy Steps for Preventing Brain Drain":
1. Identify your vulnerabilities. "Many companies don't know where they are most vulnerable to knowledge loss," says David DeLong, author of Lost Knowledge: confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce. One way to get around this is by doing an age profile of your workforce by work unit or by function. Determine the average age of employees in each unit and identify who's likely to retire or leave the company for other reasons.

2. Identify types of knowledge at risk. Use interviewing and social network analysis software to find out what knowledge is most valuable. This will help you decide where to focus your knowledge-retention efforts.

3. Choose your tactics. If you're focusing on transferring "tacit" knowledge, or experience that is hard to catalogue, establish mentoring programs or communities of practice that bring older and younger workers together for extended periods. If you need to document information quickly before key employees retire, start developing databases and other repositories.
Source: "Beating the Boomer Brain Drain Blues" CIO: Beating the Boomer Brain Drain Blues (Feburary 3, 2006)

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