Jun 4

Knowledge and The Aging Workforce

Boomer Retirement = Company Knowledge Void

In the next five years, the so-called Silver Tsunami, or Gray2K, will sweep through every company as baby boomers start retiring en masse, taking with them a collective 3.3 billion years of experience that companies are already finding difficult to regain[1].  That knowledge is gone forever and the clock is ticking as the workplace collectively scrambles to capture the information before it retires with the employee.

U.S. Army on the Frontlines of Knowledge Management

Looking to what has worked so far we turn to the U.S. Army, a world leader in navigating turnover and change.  The Army has fully embraced Knowledge Management with their Doctrine 2015 strategy, delivering doctrine to the point of need.

At first glance, the Army may not seem like a knowledge centered entity, however upon further examination, we quickly find that practically all of the “how” and “what” the warfighter is expected to know is found in one of the 600+ field manuals and U.S. Army doctrine publications, each with a 3-5 year life and a 3-24 month revision cycle.  With Doctrine 2015, the U.S. Army launched a revolutionary new approach which utilizes the relevant portions of Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS)[2] to provide a streamlined and up-to-date knowledge system for soldiers and leaders throughout the U.S. military branches.  Using cutting edge technology, the U.S. Army uses collaborative software to significantly speed up revision time to adjust for significant recent operational experience, evolving policy and doctrine, and Joint and U.S. Army transformation as a whole.

Capture Relevant Knowledge

On the customer experience side, the U.S. Army is making the upgraded knowledge available via mobile apps as well as offline.  This is a huge advantage in tactical situations that in the civilian world are easily seen as a business advantage for support and field service organizations by reducing costs and increasing agent productivity.

Companies facing Gray2K are turning to the same model as the U.S. Army with collaborative software, just-in-time updates, and “anytime access” for the end user/customer.  By implementing both KCS and a technical solution that can readily make “knowledge” available over all channels while supporting the core competencies of KCS, critical knowledge can be captured before it walks out the door forever.

By Brandon Caudle

[1] Sources for Retirement Metrics: http://www.cse.sc.edu/~buell/References/BureauLaborStatistics/art3full2014.pdf, https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/oldest-boomers.html#keyfindings

[2] Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) is a methodology and a set of practices and processes that focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the customer/technical support organization. Development began in 1992 by the Consortium for Service Innovation; a non-profit alliance of support organizations. Its premise is to capture, structure and re-use technical support knowledge.