The Mobile Phone is a Knowledge Retention Tool

In KM, one of the reasons we say why we need to capture and share knowledge is that it could walk out the door. It seems though that even when that knowledge has walked out the door, the connection may not. If the parting was indeed on cordial terms, then some organisations still consider the exiting person accessible as a resource, although somewhat less so. A simple phone call to the individual’s mobile phone is all it takes. It appears easier to connect with the individual for JIT answers, as and when the need arises, than to plough through all the documents the person had left behind. While some degree of “thick-skin” has to be exercised here, it has to be said that the benefits work both ways in that the individual could also connect with his ex-colleagues for past information and resources, if these were considered still appropriate for disclosure.

I had visited an office once and found that the fairly senior person I met had been left with several boxes of files which he had inherited from his predecessor three months earlier ie. when he arrived on the job. The boxes were still sealed with masking tape and he said he had not the time to open the boxes to see what was in them. I recall having inherited a whole cabinet of files from a colleague who had resigned, yet although I knew more or less what were in these files, I never had occasion to have to refer to them.

So, is the argument of knowledge walking out the door still valid?

Should KM look for ways to keep connections intact when people leave the organization so that the knowledge is still fairly accessible, rather than to collect it all when they are around?

5 Comments so far

I just received the CDrom of my former employer where they collected all data from former employees… Another example of how it doesn’t work, I believe. At the same time, I have been trying to call someone from my former office and mailing and don’t get any response. I wonder if they can’t see that contradiction themselves. But the conclusion is that it is through keeping the personal relationships (with key people? as you can not keep it with all?)

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 03:09 AM | Comment permalink

Paolina Martin

That’s one I’ve not heard before - I guess it’s like an “alumni of former employees”, which is a great KM intervention if you think about it.

Appreciate the comment.

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 11:25 AM | Comment permalink

mm, it might be.. but I how effective it is if you invest a lot of time in the database, but don’t reach out to those people at the same time?

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 02:22 PM | Comment permalink

Paolina Martin

Yes, it’s important to reach out and keep the connections going.

2 thoughts:

1) Think the information is useful for a period only; there should be a period of expiry as far as the data goes because the business would have evolved and people would also have moved on. So, yes there should be a higher purpose that just maintaining the data.

2) I thought the data might have been useful for the former employees to know how to find each other even after they had left, unless I misunderstood.

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 03:30 PM | Comment permalink

Actually the first use was for the organisation. I just received a copy yesterday of the database, so I don’t know yet whether it will be useful to me to find former ex-employees, but I’m still in contact with most of my ex-employees with whom I want to stay in contact. It might be useful though, if you look for someone in a particular organisation. Will try it out!

Posted on September 28, 2006 at 03:46 PM | Comment permalink

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