Minimizing Knowledge Drain
– Spread it around
This is why the culture that arises from daily acts takes the place of corporate policies. Instead of writing ourselves down in a set of rules, we evolve slowly based on what we do. – Ricardo Semler
In a Nutshell
Honestly, who doesn’t love the title, “Technical Specialist”? It oozes authority and makes you feel like you’re in safe hands. For, a specialist has the perfect solution to your extremely particular problem. And, everything is pitch-perfect until this expert decides to jump ships or head out into the horizon. When they leave, experts create huge voids that companies struggle to fill immediately, or adequately, triggering a bout of chaos that could have been avoided.
It all boils down to information that a specialist knows and the rest of the team (or company) doesn’t. Their knowledge of a niche not only sets them apart, but also makes them tough to replace. But more importantly, their leave creates a knowledge drain that leaves teams scrambling and the management anxious.
However, both these issues can be easily avoided if leaders realized the merits of spreading technical know-how among team members; and, the short lifespan of “critical” information. Very often, company managements feel wary of sharing information and technical knowledge with employees who aren’t “experts” because they’re afraid such access will cause “leaks” that competitors may cash-in on.
But, if leaders were to really rationalize these fears, they’d understand the illusory quality of such worries. For, the real world doesn’t operate upon “leaked” information. Such information expires real fast because they’re relevant for a very short window of time. Simply put, companies will be digging their own graves if they were basing their next move upon leaked information from their competitors. They will always be one step behind and soon nobody would remember them.
Besides, if someone decides to encash such sensitive information, it’s nearly impossible to stop them today, thanks to the sophisticated technology that anyone can access now. In the end, sharing niche technical knowledge with everyone in the team ensures that the company’s never left groping in the dark when someone decides to leave the company.