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F. Kohlbacher, W.H. Güttel and B. Haltmeyer

conversations within their business. The authors hope that, by beginning the discussion of the ramifications of the issue, some specific strategies and programmes can be developed to provide competitive advantage in the marketplace.

2.3 Think pieces Think Piece 1

The first three think pieces deal with the knowledge management challenge of demographic change and baby boomer retirement. The first paper, ‘Reducing risk: building the business case for investing in knowledge retention’, by DeLong, reports that research shows that executives are increasingly concerned about an ageing workforce and the increased impacts on performance due to lost knowledge. But surprisingly few initiatives have been implemented to directly manage this risk. DeLong contends that a major barrier to improved knowledge retention is the failure to develop an effective business case or Return on Investment (ROI) analysis for investing in solutions. He outlines six principles that will increase the chances of effectively evaluating threats and acquiring the resources needed to retain critical organisational knowledge. One important distinction made is that workforce analysis and workforce planning are not equal to an effective cost/benefit analysis that evaluates potential talent management, knowledge management, or mentoring solutions.

Think Piece 2

The second paper, ‘The Leaving Expert Debriefing to fight the retirement wave of the ageing workforce’, by Hofer-Alfeis, introduces the Leaving Expert Debriefing (LXD) as a planning and conducting process for knowledge transfer from the leaving expert to the successor(s). Various knowledge transfer and development actions for different shapes of knowledge are typically defined focusing on strategic, business-critical knowledge areas. Additionally, the transfer is executed and controlled via the LXD process. An LXD process model is presented and some steps are described in detail. Two real, quite contrary leaving expert issues are discussed and experience from many LXD moderations is shared.

Think Piece 3

The third paper, ‘How Hewlett-Packard minimises knowledge loss’, by Gotthart and Haghi, argues that large organisations are prone to reorganisation and workforce reductions, and many industries are now facing the challenge of an ageing (and retiring) workforce. Organisations are forced to make changes in the employee base, which intensifies the potential for knowledge loss. The need for knowledge retention is becoming more and more apparent. There are of course many methods, like documentation and job mentoring. In order to minimise the impact of knowledge loss when an employee leaves, HP has implemented a documentation process for knowledge transfer at an appropriate time. This ‘Knowledge Briefs’ programme consists of a submission process, a review process, a measurement system and an incentives scheme. The programme has proved to be successful for many years, and shows a significant ROI.

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