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Tackling the Exodus of Knowledge as Utilities' Workforce Exits the Labor Market

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Abstract:

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it. ”

Samuel Johnson (1706 – 1790)

This paper presents three knowledge management change efforts being implemented at the San Francisco Wastewater Enterprise to mitigate the loss of knowledge from looming retirements. The first change is to document mission-critical functions using K-map and wiki technologies; second to train our workers to get answers using our wiki technology instead of relying on verbal communications with experienced peers; and third to collaborate regionally to regenerate a pipeline of knowledgeable workers. These are not incremental changes in our culture, but a paradigm shift in how we recruit and train our workforce. The primary finding of our change efforts to date is that to succeed, we must collaborate internally and externally to leverage the limited time, money and staff available to implement these changes.

Keywords: Change; Collaboration; Communities of Practice; Culture; Knowledge Management; Knowledge-mapping; Technology; Wiki; Workforce Development

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864709793900339

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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