Knowledge is people

by daniel on July 18, 2009

People are not pegs

We are in the information age, where the business has become information management. Almost every modern job includes some kind of information handling: software, stocks, banking, etc. This is completely different from the industrial revolution where production means and materials were the critical assets. In this new kind of work, you as a worker (the asset) are defined by what you know and what you can create.

Since what you know and what you can create are so critical, many companies try to script the tasks, to make the worker as expendable as possible. The number of examples is huge: low level programmers in Eastern Europe, call center operators in India and more.

Seth Godin has a post on this issue, people as pegs

But some people are not pegs; they are unique due to creativity, due to being special and remarkable.

Why all this rant? Because management is confused between keeping people and keeping knowledge.

Some managers think that knowledge can be transferred from person to person, at least partially. This is minimally correct, because some information can be passed, but its not knowledge. The sad truth is that when a person leaves, all knowledge is lost to the organization. The knowledge gathered during the period working in the company is lost, especially with remarkable people who motivate others.

The reaction of management should be to try to keep the best people, using as various methods as possible. Unfortunately, this won’t happen and there are many reasons for that.

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