Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce / Edition 1

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Executives today recognize that their firms face a wave of retirements over the next decade as the baby boomers hit retirement age. At the other end of the talent pipeline, the younger workforce is developing a different set of values and expectations, which creates new recruiting and employee retention issues. The evolution from an older, traditional, highly-experienced workforce to a younger, more mobile, employee base poses significant challenges, particularly when considered in the context of the long-term orientation towards downsizing and cost cutting. This is a solution-oriented book to address one of the most pressing management problems of the coming years: How do organizations transfer the critical expertise and experience of their employees before that knowledge walks out the door? It begins by outlining the broad issues and providing tools for developing a knowledge-retention strategy and function. It then goes on to outline best practices for retaining knowledge, including knowledge transfer practices, using technology to enable knowledge retention, retaining older workers and retirees, and outsourcing lost capabilities.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Raises the intriguing question: Are companies ready to deal with the loss of intellectual capital that comes from workers' retirement?"—The New York Times

"Whether it's a veteran marketing manager at General Mills or an international tax accountant at Dupont, specialized knowledge in the heads of departing employees can cost companies millions to replace — if it can be done at all. For the serious student of "knowledge retention," DeLong's book is an excellent primer. "—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"David DeLong offers advice and perspective that managers in different settings can use to prepare for expected turnover and attrition of mid-career employees."—HBS Working Knowledge

'Lost Knowledge is readable and is written in a reflective style with a scholarly tone[I]t will help leaders to begin to address the process of developing knowledge retention strategies."—People Management

"...when an employee walks out the door, they are taking with them new types of knowledge that didn't exist a generation agoDeLong's book offers some detailed blueprints for addressing the problem-from making sure your electronic files are not lost on a hard drive to creating programs to keep the retirees connected to the organizationIt's a fascinating read."—The Concord Journal

"An important timely book..."—Library Journal

Library Journal
As long-term members of the workforce retire, what happens to their knowledge and skills? DeLong (Executive Support Systems: The Emergence of Top Management Computer Use), a research fellow at the MIT AgeLab and adjunct professor at Babson College, studies the effects of lost knowledge. The issues he addresses here include why organizations should care about the threat of lost knowledge, the different ways that knowledge disappears, and the effect of lost knowledge on performance. Most important, it considers how organizations can retain more critical knowledge in the face of major turnover, owing not only to an aging workforce but to increased attrition among mid-career employees. Solutions to the problem presented here include storytelling, mentoring, interviews/videotaping, and training. DeLong makes his points by drawing on case studies, e.g., owing to early retirement, NASA engineers lost knowledge on how to land on the moon. Extensive chapter notes list sources for further reading. An important, timely book; highly recommended for academic libraries.-Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195170979
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/9/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 707,133
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David W. DeLong is a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab and an adjunct professor at Babson College where he teaches a course on "Leading Change." He has consulted and lectured in many countries and is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in leading journals and magazines.

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Table of Contents

Part I: The High Cost of Losing Intellectual Capital
1. The Landscape of Lost Knowledge
2. Diagnosing Strategic Impacts of Lost Knowledge
3. A Strategic Framework for Action
Part II: Evaluating Knowledge Retention Practices
4. Developing an HR Infrastructure for Knowledge Retention
5. Improving the Transfer of Explicit Knowledge
6. Transferring Implicit and Tacit Knowledge
7. Applying IT to Capture, Store, and Share Intellectual Capital
8. After the Knowledge is Gone
Part III: Implementing Retention Strategies
9. Stemming the Flow of Lost Knowledge: Stories of Early Adopters
10. Launching Retention Initiatives: Principles for Action
11. Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Knowledge Retention
12. Creating the Future: Thinking Strategically About Knowledge Retention

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