Fight the brain drain to evade disaster

Hans Van Heghe

Disaster is about to strike Western Europe.

We live in a knowledge economy where intellectual property and experience have monetary values that often stretch beyond imagination, but age demographics are rapidly closing in on us.

Over the coming seven years a massive number of highly-skilled professionals will retire. With them, decades of experience will vanish from the intellectual capital of our companies.

To add to the problem, the same age demographics dictate a far smaller inflow of skills and knowledge. The number of people retiring is significantly higher than the number of students exchanging school life for paid jobs.

Over the coming seven years a massive number of highly-skilled professionals will retire

Potential disaster

What happens when you have to deliver and operate with 50% less knowledge and expertise, combined with 25% less employees?

Not knowing, not being informed, not having the right competencies, resulting in wrong decisions, reinventing the wheel, higher business risks, missed opportunities, not respected as an expert by your clients, etc.

Depending on your type of business this will impact on both revenue as operational margin decreasing with 15 to 25%. Will you and your shareholders be happy with this result?

Recession?

Every time the economy stagnates, companies focus on the preservation or an improvement of the company results. There are various ways of increasing profit. Increased sales efforts and a sharper purchase policy are just two examples.

In most cases, people are put under pressure to work harder and more productively. Many are frustrated and stressed by the difference between their personal efforts and the organisation’s inefficiency concerning information management and the flow of this information throughout the organisation.

The majority of enterprises do not opt for measures that lead to a more effective, efficient use and organisation of information and knowledge, be it in times of economic recession or boom.

Fight the brain drain successfully

KM (Knowledge Management) indeed holds one of the keys to fight brain drain successfully. When applied intelligently it enables you to capture the existing knowledge about your processes, your business models, your information systems, your company, your success. Stored information, however, is only valuable if the pieces of information one needs, can be retrieved easily by the people who need them – or even better, if they are presented to the folks who are likely to need them, but who may not even know they exist. That is where KM starts to produce a return on investment.

What to do? – minimal effort

What you should start doing today is implementing following two items:

  • Initiate a senior-junior programme. The main emphasis is to identify potential loss of knowledge when people retire or leave the organisation and - for the domains at risk - very few people having strategic knowledge to inventory those crucial knowledge domains (where to find, what is the source, who needs it).
  • Give your knowledge workers efficient tools to find and to stay informed on a personal level This is known as 'JERI' - Just Enough Relevant Information, when and where needed.

What to do? – optimal solution

The optimal solution is to start implementing KM in order to manage your organisation knowledge-centric. Linked to your organisational objectives, KCM (Knowledge Centric Management) will help you to avoid shortage of knowledge, preserving your operations, revenue and results – even with less people.

 

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