I ran a couple of training sessions last week, and in both of them the group ended up in a discussion about the relative merits of “knowledge harvesting”. I have always held however detailed the learning/exit interview with someone leaving a position or an organisation, both parties usually end up disappointed. However, as a salvage operation, particularly one involving a workgroup or community, it is certainly better than nothing, and can reduce some of the short-term risks.

I’d like to think that there are less reactive and more creative contractual ways of retaining access to expertise through phased retirement and voluntary alumni approaches…

Schlumberger have the right idea in the way they manage communities and special interest groups as an integral part of the development of professionals. In order to reach the upper echelons of Schlumberger’s technical professionals – the top rung of the technical ladder – you have to have spent time leading a community of practice. If you have never led a community, then you never become a “fellow”.

In order to lead a community of practice, you have to be voted in, during their annual “community election season” (sounds a little strange, but they manage it very well). Needless to say, in order to be voted in as a community leader, you have to have demonstrated the right behaviours, and been an active, knowledge-sharing member – in addition to having the requisite facilitation skills.

If the community is active and the “expert” is engaged, then there shouldn’t be too much left for the hasty harvest when the time comes for pastures new…

Far better perhaps, to consider your whole career as a 40-year exit interview!


CharlesFred shot of horses and stable doors!