Use It, or Lose It!

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One of the biggest problems with any kind of training today is that what is learned in those training classes is lost in a very short period of time. According to findings by the International Journal of Project Management, “Around 40% of the knowledge acquired in training is lost after 1 month, rising to 90% after 6 months.”

Those statistics shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us. For those organizations to capitalize on the information that was taught and doesn’t become lost with lack of use, it needs to be captured and retained, so it can be quickly and easily accessed when it is needed.

What we know is that the 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.” This is according to research that Accenture Institute for Strategic Change wrote a couple of years ago and is still relevant today.

The challenge for every organization is to develop a knowledge–retention process whereby the training, tribal knowledge and skill sets of its employees can be captured, cataloged, retained and then re-deployed when it is needed. That way it minimizes the impact of having it lost due to its lack of use.

The problem with some knowledge is that if it isn’t used regularly, then it is lost and when it is lost, it becomes very costly to replace. One of the biggest problems with tribal knowledge around certain processes is that the people who know how the process works have insight about what to do when it stops working because they have dealt with it in the past. Unless you have some type of “predictive analytics” that will help you predict when that event is going to happen again, then chances are what was known about how to fix the problem might be lost, creating unknown consequences. Also, if the people who had the knowledge to deal with it in the past are out or no longer there, then the new people in that position won’t be equipped to handle the problem when it arises because they won’t have that tribal knowledge or experience to call upon to deal with it.

However, if the organization has created a system for retaining their organizational or tribal knowledge so it can be accessed quickly and easily by the people who need that knowledge to solve that problem, then the outcome will have much better results. That type of knowledge retention and delivery system reduces the problems that are created when that knowledge isn’t used often enough and is forgotten or lost.

Organizations make themselves vulnerable because they don’t recognize the risks involved by not having a knowledge retention plan and program. So, if what is taught or learned isn’t used often enough, then it probably will be lost and that loss can be very costly in many ways. At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?

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