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Tools for Teams: Knowledge Retention with a Team Twist

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Where is all of our industry's institutional knowledge going? That's correct…right out the door! Are you capturing this knowledge before its mass exodus? Per the Water Environment Federation's Task Force on Workforce Sustainability, Final Report (2008), based upon current statistics this loss is rapidly occurring and will be peaking this decade. How often have we just passively allowed such knowledge to leave the company without batting an eye? All that investment in training…all that trial and error that equates to experience…gone…without even a raised eyebrow. Consider the time it will take to recover such losses. Wouldn't it be easier to establish systems to capture the knowledge – systems that add value and are self-managing?

Charleston Water System (CWS) has developed several systematic processes that capture institutional knowledge. Some are in the form of written and electronic standards of operation, high-level training programs, and electronic resources available to all associates. Many companies have such programs, but one very special program initiated by CWS is referred to as “Tools for Teams.” The original intent was to bring consistency to the use of teams on a company-wide basis, as CWS has for many years relied heavily on teamwork for problem-solving and to accomplish important company initiatives. The initiative steadily grew to include the capturing of best practices, quality control applications, business development practices, business improvement models, decision-making standards, and industry innovations.
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Keywords: Team dynamics; best practices; innovation; institutional knowledge retention; succession planning; team building

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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