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Indian firm is kickin’ the KM effort *old* old-school

Posted by Gia Lyons on May 19, 2008

In discussing social software user adoption approaches with one of my sales manufacturing customers today, he explained the following (Abhijit, if you happen to read this, please correct me if I’ve misrepresented anything):

In India, his manufacturing sales dealership is experiencing a brain drain of large proportion. He may very well be the youngest person in the organization, and he’s been there several years. Plus, the future seems to be one of constant turnover, as folks come on board, get trained, then leave for higher-paying careers elsewhere. He suggested that this is a common occurrence in India right now.

As a result, it is his strategic mission to acquire and pass the knowledge and experience of those who are about to retire, to wave after wave of new hires. The hope, perhaps, is that they use this knowledge as a way to ramp up quickly and get plugged in to the organizational network faster, but also as a base upon which to build new experiences. Also, the hope is that they share what they learn and create as they go.

TaperecorderSo, how is he passing eminent retirees’ knowledge to the new folks? He has taken to giving new hires and others digital voice recorders, and setting them up to interview the folks about to retire. He then sends the recordings to a transcription service for transfer to a written format. I’ve referred to this as “Be like Oprah” in Twitter. Go interview your experts before they leave, and get their permission to post what is shared, preferably in a tool that promotes interaction (like blog / wiki / forum / etc.) as opposed to passive reading (like a news article).

As an aside, I wonder if posting the transcript of an interview in a social software environment might get the interviewee to participate in same?


This sounds like lots of work, but if passing knowledge from one generation to the next is critical to the survival of your business, I imagine it’d be worth it.




2 Responses to “Indian firm is kickin’ the KM effort *old* old-school”

  1. Hi Gia,
    Just found your site via twitter. Nice work.
    Coming back to this post, and being originally from India, I can relate very well to where Mr Abhijit is coming from. India is dealing with a severe case of “talent drain” and the idea of wiki/blogging/documenting is still very very “foreign” or at times even “scary” to the indian business community.
    I come from a pre-sales background (one of the first to do presales for domino in the rural parts of southern india) and I have seen the fear that a lot of business have towards technology. I do agree at times ignorance (for want of a better word) or rather a lack of exposure is the cause for this. and this leads to talent and knowledge leaving with the brainpool that retires/moves on. I have seen it in my own family too

    Its a very diverse yet at times symetric (if u can imagine that) society.!!

  2. Gia Lyons said

    Rajiv, thanks for the great insight! I’ve never been to India, so I’m only as familiar with the social participation business challenges people like you choose to share. It seems that a truly simple approach – one that leverages existing, trusted mentor relationships – is the best bet right now…

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