Recently I had a conversation with one of my colleagues regarding his organization’s loss of critical expertise.
As people started to move in and out of the company, valuable knowledge gaps appeared. In a statement of exasperation he asked, “Where have my experts gone?”
To address these gaps, the organization began hiring short term (6 months or less) expertise to perform specific duties. When these resources moved on the organization was back to square one. This lead him to ask, “How can we address this long term?”, “Where can we find experts to fill these positions long term?”, and… “How would you address this issue?”
Well I guess this is the million dollar question.
The first task I told him I would do is to prioritize the areas that have experienced knowledge loss and, based on that, perform a knowledge audit of the area that has been identified as the highest priority. In addition, further knowledge audits should be scheduled for the remaining areas as his organization became more comfortable with executing knowledge audits. I did inform him that the knowledge audit will tell him what specific knowledge gaps exist, who the current knowledge holders are, and what percentage of knowledge is tacit, explicit, or both.
Understanding if the knowledge gap is tacit, and the specifics of this tacit knowledge would help you determine the type of expertise you need to hire and for how long. In understanding if the knowledge is explicit, your key knowledge holders may have access to this knowledge somewhere in the organization (knowledge repository/portal, network folders, on the shelf, etc.), you may also have the ability to purchase this knowledge or perform research to document this knowledge. I also believe engaging the key knowledge holders when it comes to identifying the “right” personnel to bring in to fill key positions will start to address his concerns around where to find the experts he needs.
I know this is just a start to address his problem. I would like to know what others believe he should do, and why. In this current economy it’s only a matter of time before all of our organizations start to face this same problem!