Current Issue
Material Handling Wholesaler Cover
December 2017
Enjoy the December cover story as Dave Baiocchi helps you transition from supplier to strategic partner

Industry News

View Material Handling Wholesaler's profile on LinkedIn

Incoming knowledge – Got a clue?
By Robert W. Wendover
Robert W. Wendover has been researching and writing about workforce trends for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Managing Director of the Center for Generational Studies.
Contributed photo
Robert W. Wendover has been researching and writing about workforce trends for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Managing Director of the Center for Generational Studies.

The transfer and management of knowledge will continue to bedevil organizations for decades to come. While technology poses a number of barriers, the successful collection of wisdom and insights from veteran workers, and the transfer of this knowledge to the emerging generations, may well set forth the most insurmountable of obstacles due to the human interactions required. 

What follows are five trends believed to represent the most formidable of these barriers. Consider the questions at the end of each topic to assess how it may impact your actions and the actions of those around you.

Perception of the value and relevance of knowledge

The value of knowledge must be measured in different ways. Skills may be essential to daily operations, but the vision and insights gathered over years of experience set organizational strategy - not to mention helping to avoid crises when they appear. But how will those in the emerging generations perceive the value of knowledge they may not comprehend or appreciate at the time?

Using the case of technology as their guide, some have made the leap that if a certain body of knowledge is not available in a digital form, it  must be no longer relevant. In other cases this knowledge may not appear meaningful, as application of it is not necessarily immediate.

It will be incumbent upon organizations to convince younger workers of the value of knowledge while delivering it in a way that demonstrates relevancy.

Questions to consider: What steps does your organization need to take to convince young users of the relevance and applicability of a particular base of knowledge? What kinds of information within your environment will prove particularly challenging to transfer and manage?

The impact of convenience on critical thinking Technology has always been a mixed blessing. Society appears to be migrating towards a model of menu-driven thinking that replaces traditional problem solving approaches with choice-oriented applications.

On one level, this kind of technology can enhance the delivery of training and instruction by offering applications that appeal to young minds by addressing their expectation of
entertainment and stimulation. At the same time, it can be argued the nuances of critical thinking are lost on those who develop a reliance on menu-driven options to make decisions.

Yes, simulations and games may offer solutions to this challenge, but the technology and true integration of this approach is in its infancy.

Questions to consider: What knowledge bases within your organization are amenable to being managed using a technological platform? What knowledge bases will prove difficult because of their nature of problem-solving orientation? What steps can you take to address the challenges of both?

The influence of impatience and nonstop stimulation

The emerging generations are products of a 24/7/365 multimedia environment that leaves many uncomfortable with silence. The nature of knowledge transfer, especially within non-technical realms, is based largely on patient information gathering and processing. A classic example of this is the passing of wisdom and insights from a veteran to an emerging leader. The methodology for this typically consists of story telling, discussion and repeated exposure to the environment.

For the impatient young learner, this may be a struggle, especially if the mentor is less than effective at investing in the value of what the protégé has to offer. These relationships cannot be forced, but contain the transfer of knowledge critical to organizational health over time.

Questions to consider: How can you best coach veteran managers and leaders to work with emerging professionals in transferring their base of knowledge and wisdom effectively?

How can you convince emerging workers of the value of story-telling, interviews and reflection as an effective menu for learning and embracing a non-technical knowledge base?

Go to Page 1 2 Next Page