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What are organizations doing to handle the knowledge transfer as Baby Boomers retire?

I recently posted this question to the ASTD National group on Linked In:

I was doing some research on the changing U.S. workforce demographics. The basic conclusion is that the U.S. workforce is getting bigger, older and more diverse. A major issue that is coming up is the retirement of Baby Boomers and the knowledge transfer that needs to occur. Post with a few sources is at

What strategies are organizations using to handle the knowledge transfer as folks walk out the door?

It started an interesting discussion.  With permission I have reproduced some of the answers below.  Please feel free to continue the discussion using comments.

Amy Davis - Senior Instructional Designer, Corporate Banking at National City Bank

 We have implemented "Best in Class" or "Best Practices" training workshops. We have a blended structure where we utilize experienced associates for subject matter expertise and then in an instructor-led format we pair experienced with less-experienced associates to develop best practices in scenario-based experiential learning. These workshops allow these associates to transfer knowledge in a casual, less intimidating environment. As Subject Matter Experts (SME's) they transfer knowledge through content development sessions as we develop our learning materials. The transfer happens here but it is less transparent.

Luis Cuadros - Manager, Learning Consultant Kaiser Permanente

I have researched this thoroughly and recently proposed the implementation of a Wiki in my company to capture the collective intellectual capital of retiring baby boomers. Having social networking tools within your enterprise is also an expectation of the Millennial Generation (between MySpace and Facebook, there are approximately 100 million users). Companies need to create a knowledgebase to retain organizational "memory". Implement a wiki to create a knowledgebase. You can also implement an application that lets people create profiles of themselves; use this to search for experts in your company.



Ken Kufahl - Organization Effectiveness Manager at GE Capital Solutions

 We have found that many legacy processes within the business are being completed by only one person. Many of these employees are the "close to retiring Baby Boomers". Our plan is very similar to Amy's. We are pairing the experienced employee (SME) with a less experienced emerging talent (ET). Our training department leads an orientation and training class on process mapping and documentation. The SME and ET then take the process "back to their desks" and update or complete the documentation as well as build a recommendation on how the knowledge and process can be maintained more effectively going forward. Leadership also receives an opportunity to see key talent in action and identify people ready for bigger challenges.



Gary Grant, CMFC, AAPA

My employer recently installed a wiki. This allows open collaboration between the generation gaps, regardless of location. Information is shared, reviewed, and updated.

Our call center associates (these are financial consultants) are the main audience. Instead of calling a senior person to a given topic, they would search the wiki for answers. If they dispute an answer or any information, they simple submit a request. When new critical information is added to the wiki, they will receive an email.









Launching a Wiki Government

The MIT Technology Review has an interesting post on wikis arising in the recent days inviting people to make policy proposals for President-Elect Obama and then vote on them:

Also, check out the first entry in the Comments below the blog post on Govt Already Uses Open Source.  For the CIA, there's Intellipedia where - at varying security levels - knowledge is shared on a whole raft of things.   For the State Department, there's Diplopedia  - featuring content such as biographies on staff in foreign embassies.
The FBI is only just getting started with the aim of older experienced officers sharing their knowledge with new recruits.


TxDOT's First Wiki

Here in the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division of TxDOT we're implementing the agency's first wiki to capture the tacit knowledge of employees who are nearing retirement. We're early in our wiki adoption, but so far staff are excited about the technology. I've seen folks with little technical background contribute to the wiki after a brief introduction to the collaboration tool. (We're using MediaWiki - the technology that powers Wikipedia.)
Executive management was so impressed with our pilot wiki project last summer we've been asked to document our wiki implementation the next six months so we can fast track other TxDOT divisions in using wikis.
I highly recommend introducing wiki technology to your state agency or organization. It's one of the most effective informal learning methods available ... and the price brings a happy ring to the ear: Free!!


Wikis in state agencies

It would be great if we could gather some referral information to "share" with other state agencies so they can be encouraged to embrace this method of intermal knowledge sharing.  I really wished that I worked someplace with more capacity for these resources.

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