Planning for Knowledge Retention Now Saves Valuable Organizational Resources Later

Source: Linda Blankenship and Terry Brueck, e-Journal AWWA, Volume 100 Number 8, August 2008
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Large numbers of drinking water utility workers are leaving the workforce, as they retire or leave to seek opportunities elsewhere. Unfortunately, a utility’s most valuable knowledge is likely not written down nor is it readily learned by new workers in a written form. Utilities need a blended approach, from structured document repositories to learning and training on the organization’s best practices, in order to successfully retain valuable knowledge.

The article presents information from an Awwa Research Foundation research project on retaining this valuable knowledge. Utilities that successfully address the need for knowledge retention will be better-equipped to cope with the challenges ahead–increasingly sophisticated technology, stringent regulations, higher customer expectations, aging infrastructure, technology pressures, security concerns, economic constraints, and more. With all of the other initiatives, special projects, and day-to-day issues facing utility leaders, a program with long-term and sometimes hidden payback like knowledge retention is a key area that utility leaders must focus on.

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