On Preserving Institutional Memory

People are important. Most companies will tell you that. But what happens when these people disappear?

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What are companies (or even families) doing to preserve institutional memory? How do you dip into the knowledge locked in the minds of your people (or your relatives) after they've left your organization?

You could, for example, require your sales people to keep an internal blog about their accounts. If they're not into writing, require them to file a video report using their computer's web cam.

Keep the videos short. Less than 5 minutes per "report." Then have some kind of video librarian annotate these so that you can easily make a text search.

They can talk about certain peculiarities about certain accounts. Or how they managed to solve some persistent problem. And the advantage that short videos have over quick text reports is that you gain additional info from the nuances subconsciously broadcast by the person making the video.

If you are able to do this in your company or even in your families, you'll end up with a knowledge resource that generations can learn from years after the last turnover rites, or the last reunion.

I wish I had recorded my grandmother when she used to tell us the story of Sohrab and Rustum, as my cousins and I gathered around her sofa during those warm Dumaguete nights. It would have been a treat to show those to my children.

But those days are gone, locked away, hidden.

Too bad there were no easy-to-do videos thirty years ago.

[ First posted on 08/24/2006 by Manuel Viloria ]

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