Topics

Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club? #knowledge-retention


Chris Collison <chris@...>
 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com


Don Kildebeck
 

Chris,

I don't have a direct answer to your question, but a comment related to the topic you bring up. It seems that we are suffering from a dramtic contradiction in our culture as to the actual value of knowledge that "retires" from an organization. On one hand when a particular topic calls for it, we race to throw out stratistics and chatter all about the "short-shelf-life of knowledge", the amount of information that churns in the world today (i.e total world knowledge doubles every two years), how in many industries, the working know-how changes 25% every year, and in general how rapid EVERYTHING changes, etc etc etc.

THEN, when topics like retiring knowledge come up, we race the other direction and play up how valuable retiring workers knowledge is and how we must capture it or else we're doomed, etc. So which is it?

My personal belief, having worked the process of capturing retiring knowledge from long-time (avg. 40 years) employees, I found that the retirement "slide" that often occurs, almost guarantees that the knowledge holder retiring is already lacking the most up-to-date knowledge of his/her profession BEFORE they even retire. I have no studies to back this up, just my working experience.

Regards,

Don Kildebeck

 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Collison"
To: sikmleaders@...
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:42:49 PM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks...  Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com


Matt Moore <innotecture@...>
 

Don,

I don't see that as a contradiction but rather an acknowledgement that different kinds of knowledge have different shelf-lives. If you are working with an asset with a lifespan of decades (e.g. a powerplant) then you need to take a knowledge perspective that is longer than any individual's working life (which isn't to say that a particular issue might not have a shorter lifespan). Whereas in the computer software business, you might completely rearchitect your product every few years (which isn't to say that knowledge of broader industry issues doesn't have a longer lifespan).

We need to take a managerial perspective on knowledge lifespan appropriate for the context. And we will probably need a mix of short term and long term views.

As for retiring employees lacking the most up-to-date knowledge about their field. I suspect this is often true - but that's not what I'd want from these people. I want the old stuff.

Regards,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504

On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:57 AM, dkkildebeck@... wrote:

 

Chris,

I don't have a direct answer to your question, but a comment related to the topic you bring up. It seems that we are suffering from a dramtic contradiction in our culture as to the actual value of knowledge that "retires" from an organization. On one hand when a particular topic calls for it, we race to throw out stratistics and chatter all about the "short-shelf-life of knowledge", the amount of information that churns in the world today (i.e total world knowledge doubles every two years), how in many industries, the working know-how changes 25% every year, and in general how rapid EVERYTHING changes, etc etc etc.

THEN, when topics like retiring knowledge come up, we race the other direction and play up how valuable retiring workers knowledge is and how we must capture it or else we're doomed, etc. So which is it?

My personal belief, having worked the process of capturing retiring knowledge from long-time (avg. 40 years) employees, I found that the retirement "slide" that often occurs, almost guarantees that the knowledge holder retiring is already lacking the most up-to-date knowledge of his/her profession BEFORE they even retire. I have no studies to back this up, just my working experience.

Regards,

Don Kildebeck

 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Collison" <chris@...>
To: sikmleaders@...
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:42:49 PM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks...  Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com


Matt Moore <innotecture@...>
 

Chris,

CSIRO here in Australia have a decent programme. I believe that they give their retired scientists deskspace and encourage them to come in and talk to the young 'uns.

I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues. Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.

Cheers,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504

On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:42 AM, "Chris Collison" <chris@...> wrote:

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com


Murray Jennex
 

I think Matt has hit the topic on the head.  I know that there are several alumni networks that are used and have value, but the ones I know are in the utility/power plant industry, or in long lasting engineering firms with long lasting products.
 
I've studied capturing knowledge from retiring workers and as usual in KM, there is not a universal answer.  Organizations with long term products need to capture product knowledge from retiring employees.  Organizations with short term products such as software, still need to capture knowledge from retiring employees, but not product knowledge.  These organizations rely more on process to make them repeatable and this is the type of experience retiring employees have that needs to be captured.
 
So I guess what I'm saying is that initiatives to capture knowledge from retiring employees need to understand first what type of knowledge they need then tailor the initiative to capture that knowledge.
 
Also, I see alumni networks as risk mitigation, they are still useful as a safety net should you fail to capture the knowledge you need as you have the network in place to go find the human repository.
 
Thanks....murray
 

In a message dated 10/14/2010 1:43:31 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, innotecture@... writes:


Don,

I don't see that as a contradiction but rather an acknowledgement that different kinds of knowledge have different shelf-lives. If you are working with an asset with a lifespan of decades (e.g. a powerplant) then you need to take a knowledge perspective that is longer than any individual's working life (which isn't to say that a particular issue might not have a shorter lifespan). Whereas in the computer software business, you might completely rearchitect your product every few years (which isn't to say that knowledge of broader industry issues doesn't have a longer lifespan).

We need to take a managerial perspective on knowledge lifespan appropriate for the context. And we will probably need a mix of short term and long term views.

As for retiring employees lacking the most up-to-date knowledge about their field. I suspect this is often true - but that's not what I'd want from these people. I want the old stuff.

Regards,

Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504
Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:57 AM, dkkildebeck@... wrote:

 

Chris,

I don't have a direct answer to your question, but a comment related to the topic you bring up. It seems that we are suffering from a dramtic contradiction in our culture as to the actual value of knowledge that "retires" from an organization. On one hand when a particular topic calls for it, we race to throw out stratistics and chatter all about the "short-shelf-life of knowledge", the amount of information that churns in the world today (i.e total world knowledge doubles every two years), how in many industries, the working know-how changes 25% every year, and in general how rapid EVERYTHING changes, etc etc etc.

THEN, when topics like retiring knowledge come up, we race the other direction and play up how valuable retiring workers knowledge is and how we must capture it or else we're doomed, etc. So which is it?

My personal belief, having worked the process of capturing retiring knowledge from long-time (avg. 40 years) employees, I found that the retirement "slide" that often occurs, almost guarantees that the knowledge holder retiring is already lacking the most up-to-date knowledge of his/her profession BEFORE they even retire. I have no studies to back this up, just my working experience.

Regards,

Don Kildebeck

 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Collison" <chris@...>
To: sikmleaders@...
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:42:49 PM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks...  Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com


Chris Collison <chris@...>
 

Thanks Matt - that's a great point.

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 14 October 2010 21:48
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 




Chris,

 

CSIRO here in Australia have a decent programme. I believe that they give their retired scientists deskspace and encourage them to come in and talk to the young 'uns.

 

I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues. Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.

 

Cheers,

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504


On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:42 AM, "Chris Collison" <chris@...> wrote:

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com





Stan Garfield
 

Matt, I agree. A current example is that I replied to Birgit's post
because we were colleagues at HP. I would be unlikely to reply to the
same question in the context of a network run by HP.

So communities like SIKM Leaders can achieve results if the right
colleagues are members. Thanks for the insight.


--- Matt Moore wrote:
I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former
employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues.
Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes
themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their
current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.


Arthur Shelley
 

I have been doing some interesting work with the RMIT University Alumni and also with a program I call “Knowledge Succession” through some of my clients, which to an extent is about retaining access to knowledge as well as finding ways to transfer it.  Matt’s comment about CSIRO on the money and Buckman Labs did some great ways to keep former employees actively engaged.

 

My experiment with the University Alumni has been through monitoring Facebook connections between student cohorts.  I have drawn up the network diagrams of the connections I have between students from each intake in the MBA program (I am only involved with them through one of 12 courses in the space of 12 months).  I usually end up being “friends” with about half of each cohort, but the interenting things is there are relatively few connections between the members of each adjacent cohort, despite there being a 6 month overlap “in the building”.  This, I believe, highlights why the Alumni often do not work.  They are not “a group” with a common identity, they are a series of subgroups with a common (and often not overlapping) common “employer”.

 

If we want Alumni to work effectively for us, we need to find ways for them to be involved in the interactions that creates mutual value.  This is why CSIRO has worked so well.  The alumni get access to all the cool facilities they once had (including access to library and on-line services too expensive for a retired individual) and the new recruits get access to the people who have a strong sense of the history of what they are researching.  As Verna Allee would state,  a true value network with positive exchange.

 

I have just developed a mentoring program to create some cross links between staff, Alumni and students of different intakes.  This is an exciting development with some early benefits and will soon be linking more to industry partners.  I believe this will create a stronger sense of identity and build more purpose and meaning for all involved.  Will keep you in touch.  It launches internationally next week (in Vietnam, extending from Melbourne).

Regards,
Arthur Shelley
Founder: Intelligent Answers & Organizational Zoo Ambassadors Network
Author:
The Organizational Zoo & Being a Successful Knowledge Leader
Twitter:
Metaphorage
Blog: http//organizationalzoo.blogspot.com 
Ph +61 413 047 408  Skype: Arthur.Shelley 
Free Zoo Behavioural Profiles:
www.organizationalzoo.com


From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Chris Collison
Sent: Friday, 15 October 2010 8:45 AM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: RE: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

Thanks Matt - that's a great point.

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 14 October 2010 21:48
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 





Chris,

 

CSIRO here in Australia have a decent programme. I believe that they give their retired scientists deskspace and encourage them to come in and talk to the young 'uns.

 

I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues. Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.

 

Cheers,

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504


On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:42 AM, "Chris Collison" <chris@...> wrote:

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com






Andrew Gent
 

I just want to add my agreement to what Matt and Stan said. Matt's original observation "I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues..." and Stan's specific example (since I worked with both Stan and Birgit and would readily help either one at the drop of a hat).

I'd also like to point out an interesting twist to this phenomena. Which is that the KM capacity of any individual employee often multiplies exponentially with the friendships they have made at previous employments. I now work in a very small company -- currently about 14 people. Many who are in their twenties and thirties; some, like myself, older. At least once a week someone asks "does anyone know..." More often than not, the question is answered within 30 minutes by one or more people connecting with former colleagues or people they have met at conferences.

Our company is small. But when it comes to getting information, it seems like we have hundreds of people at our fingertips, all due to benefiting from the opposite end of the sort of "loyalty" Matt refers to.

--Andrew Gent



Arthur Shelley
 

Andrew, Matt and Stan,

 

Completely agree with the power of networking and maintenance of relationships after you leave an organisation.

The real beauty is you get to choose which ones you continue to interact with (although sometimes it is easier to confirm some invitations on social media sites than to block people), as this too has consequences.

 

I have an exercise I sometimes run with students or workshop groups for which the theme is “you are as powerful as your network”.  

This can be a simple set of questions or something more, such as asking them to get something non-commercial delivered to the classroom through only their networks and without voice.  Can be done “for real” or simulated. Mapping the paths through which this happens is interesting.  When we did a social network analysis of the chocolate experts at Cadbury, we started with a group of 10 which quickly developed into a group of 40 and then when this group was surveyed about the sources of technology advice exploded into a list of 248, 58 of which were outside the organisation (including some past employees and some suppliers).

Have a good weekend all!

Regards,
Arthur Shelley
Founder: Intelligent Answers & Organizational Zoo Ambassadors Network
Author:
The Organizational Zoo & Being a Successful Knowledge Leader
Twitter:
Metaphorage
Blog: http//organizationalzoo.blogspot.com 
Ph +61 413 047 408  Skype: Arthur.Shelley 
Free Zoo Behavioural Profiles:
www.organizationalzoo.com


From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Andrew Gent
Sent: Friday, 15 October 2010 11:18 AM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Re: Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

I just want to add my agreement to what Matt and Stan said. Matt's original observation "I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues..." and Stan's specific example (since I worked with both Stan and Birgit and would readily help either one at the drop of a hat).

I'd also like to point out an interesting twist to this phenomena. Which is that the KM capacity of any individual employee often multiplies exponentially with the friendships they have made at previous employments. I now work in a very small company -- currently about 14 people. Many who are in their twenties and thirties; some, like myself, older. At least once a week someone asks "does anyone know..." More often than not, the question is answered within 30 minutes by one or more people connecting with former colleagues or people they have met at conferences.

Our company is small. But when it comes to getting information, it seems like we have hundreds of people at our fingertips, all due to benefiting from the opposite end of the sort of "loyalty" Matt refers to.

--Andrew Gent

 

 


Gobi, Birgit (TS Technology Consulting EMEA KM) <birgit.gobi@...>
 

Hi,

 

Very interesting views….My experience with the Alumni network of my university (in Vienna, Austria - Europe) is in line with Arthur’s network diagram: the connections/loyalty within one subgroup (class) are quite strong (and would probably also continue without the Alumni tool), but the connections of members across sub-groups and existing and former members (students in my case) are quite weak. So, activities to support cross group networking and networking between existing and former members seem to be critical. I am looking forward to hearing about the progress of Arthur’s mentoring program.

 

I have also recently listened to a presentation of the founder of Prof. Dr. Leopold Stieger – founder of the Austrian network “seniors4success” -  a network of senior people (for the time after the pension). The core question here is: What are we winning when we are getting older? -  and also: What value add could we bring to our former employers/organizations?

It’s about starting the process of finding out the answer to this question (and finding it BEFORE pension age comes along).

Unfortunately the page is in German language only. However, there is a survey in progress on the core values we are getting better in when getting older. Here is the current status of the survey:

 

Value

% voting (total: approx. 1953)

Meaning of life

61% (968)

Experience

51% (812)

Wisdom

51% (805)

 

Followed by:

Awareness of health, autonomy, mentoring/coaching others, time budget (awareness of time, slow down in living), detecting correlations, knowledge of human nature, respect for people.

 

However, I observe that some companies (like insurance companies) are still connecting to their senior people. Either hiring them as consultants for specific projects or for other tasks where they need their experience. Some insurance companies use their seniors for looking for stolen cars, interviewing people, etc. ;-)  (really, no joke).

 

BR,

Birgit

Birgit Gobi (name change from Birgit Gotthart)
Knowledge Management Lead 
Technology Consulting - Europe, Middle East & Africa
HP Enterprise Business
Hewlett-Packard Ges.m.b.H.
Wienerbergstrasse 41, A-1120 Wien
Tel.: +43(0)1/81118-6858
Fax: +43(0)1/81118-8080
Mobile: +43-(0)664/8112879
mailto:birgit.gobi@...
http://www.hp.com/at
 
Firmenbuchgericht: Handelsgericht Wien; Firmenbuchnummer: FN94241s
Firmensitz: Wienerbergstraße 41, 1120 Wien

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Chris Collison
Sent: Donnerstag, 14. Oktober 2010 23:45
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: RE: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

Thanks Matt - that's a great point.

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 14 October 2010 21:48
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 





Chris,

 

CSIRO here in Australia have a decent programme. I believe that they give their retired scientists deskspace and encourage them to come in and talk to the young 'uns.

 

I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues. Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.

 

Cheers,

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504

Sent from my iPhone


On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:42 AM, "Chris Collison" <chris@...> wrote:

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com






Gobi, Birgit (TS Technology Consulting EMEA KM) <birgit.gobi@...>
 

Forgot to paste the “seniors4success” URL: http://www.seniors4success.at/  (it’s unfortunately in German language only)….
Birgit

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Gobi, Birgit (TS Technology Consulting EMEA KM)
Sent: Freitag, 15. Oktober 2010 15:39
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: RE: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

Hi,

 

Very interesting views….My experience with the Alumni network of my university (in Vienna, Austria - Europe) is in line with Arthur’s network diagram: the connections/loyalty within one subgroup (class) are quite strong (and would probably also continue without the Alumni tool), but the connections of members across sub-groups and existing and former members (students in my case) are quite weak. So, activities to support cross group networking and networking between existing and former members seem to be critical. I am looking forward to hearing about the progress of Arthur’s mentoring program.

 

I have also recently listened to a presentation of the founder of Prof. Dr. Leopold Stieger – founder of the Austrian network “seniors4success” -  a network of senior people (for the time after the pension). The core question here is: What are we winning when we are getting older? -  and also: What value add could we bring to our former employers/organizations?

It’s about starting the process of finding out the answer to this question (and finding it BEFORE pension age comes along).

Unfortunately the page is in German language only. However, there is a survey in progress on the core values we are getting better in when getting older. Here is the current status of the survey:

 

Value

% voting (total: approx. 1953)

Meaning of life

61% (968)

Experience

51% (812)

Wisdom

51% (805)

 

Followed by:

Awareness of health, autonomy, mentoring/coaching others, time budget (awareness of time, slow down in living), detecting correlations, knowledge of human nature, respect for people.

 

However, I observe that some companies (like insurance companies) are still connecting to their senior people. Either hiring them as consultants for specific projects or for other tasks where they need their experience. Some insurance companies use their seniors for looking for stolen cars, interviewing people, etc. ;-)  (really, no joke).

 

BR,

Birgit

Birgit Gobi (name change from Birgit Gotthart)
Knowledge Management Lead 
Technology Consulting - Europe, Middle East & Africa
HP Enterprise Business
Hewlett-Packard Ges.m.b.H.
Wienerbergstrasse 41, A-1120 Wien
Tel.: +43(0)1/81118-6858
Fax: +43(0)1/81118-8080
Mobile: +43-(0)664/8112879
mailto:birgit.gobi@...
http://www.hp.com/at
 
Firmenbuchgericht: Handelsgericht Wien; Firmenbuchnummer: FN94241s
Firmensitz: Wienerbergstraße 41, 1120 Wien


 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Chris Collison
Sent: Donnerstag, 14. Oktober 2010 23:45
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: RE: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

Thanks Matt - that's a great point.

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Matt Moore
Sent: 14 October 2010 21:48
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 






Chris,

 

CSIRO here in Australia have a decent programme. I believe that they give their retired scientists deskspace and encourage them to come in and talk to the young 'uns.

 

I would observe that I have comparatively little loyalty to my former employers. However I have a lot of loyalty to my former colleagues. Which leads to wonder whether organizations should run alumni programmes themselves or simply provide tools and opportunities that allow their current employees to stay in contact with their former ones.

 

Cheers,

Matt Moore

+61 423 784 504

Sent from my iPhone


On Oct 15, 2010, at 6:42 AM, "Chris Collison" <chris@...> wrote:

 

Lots of companies have Alumni Networks for former employees (LinkedIn is full of them!).

Are any of them are really used effectively as a way to access key "retired knowledge and expertise"?
Or do they really just serve a social function (still valued by the members, but not really prized the company)?

Does anyone have any good examples to share, where an organisation is working strategically with its alumni network to continue to involve them and retain access to their know-how?

I'm hoping that SIs are better at this than your average big company...
Grateful for any examples - good or bad.
Many thanks,
Chris

www.chriscollison.com







Stan Garfield
 

When I was at HP, a wave of early retirees was about to leave the company.  I asked two of them if they would be willing to continue participating in the communities of practice to which they had belonged before retiring.

One was really retiring (not taking a new job), and he said that he would be glad to continue participating in the project management community which he had helped lead.

One was taking a new job, and he said that he would be willing to continue participating in his community for a modest stipend.  I asked if $1,000 per year would be sufficient, and he said that would be fine.

Unfortunately, as soon as these people retired, all access to the internal network, email accounts, and community sites was terminated.  This prevented them from continuing to contribute, and made them feel like they had been fired.

Insights that I gained from this experience:

  1. If people are leaving voluntarily, consider allowing them to remain members of their communities.  You can set a time limit on this, or a qualitative limit such as "as long as you are still making regular contributions."
  2. Communities focused on specific topics are more likely to work in this way than general alumni networks, since there is context and colleagues to continue to help.
  3. If people are leaving involuntarily, then this approach is unlikely to work.  Communities like SIKM Leaders may work better.


Andrew Gent
 

>>Unfortunately, as soon as these people retired, all access to the internal network, email accounts, and community sites was terminated.  This prevented them from continuing to contribute, and made them feel like they had been fired.

Another insight: consider establishing your community infrastructure in the DMZ or even outside of corporate networks. I understand this is extremely contentious with corporate IT and legal, but the fact is much of the knowledge transfer that occurs within a company occurs *across* the firewall. Google, ex-colleagues, industry-wide organizations, etc.

At a minimum, consider establishing/encouraging inter-company communities & channels (such as SIKM as Stan points out) as a supplement to internal networks so the relationships can be maintained.

--Andrew



From: StanGarfield
To: sikmleaders@...
Sent: Fri, October 15, 2010 10:37:25 AM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Re: Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

When I was at HP, a wave of early retirees was about to leave the company.  I asked two of them if they would be willing to continue participating in the communities of practice to which they had belonged before retiring.

One was really retiring (not taking a new job), and he said that he would be glad to continue participating in the project management community which he had helped lead.

One was taking a new job, and he said that he would be willing to continue participating in his community for a modest stipend.  I asked if $1,000 per year would be sufficient, and he said that would be fine.

Unfortunately, as soon as these people retired, all access to the internal network, email accounts, and community sites was terminated.  This prevented them from continuing to contribute, and made them feel like they had been fired.

Insights that I gained from this experience:

  1. If people are leaving voluntarily, consider allowing them to remain members of their communities.  You can set a time limit on this, or a qualitative limit such as "as long as you are still making regular contributions."
  2. Communities focused on specific topics are more likely to work in this way than general alumni networks, since there is context and colleagues to continue to help.
  3. If people are leaving involuntarily, then this approach is unlikely to work.  Communities like SIKM Leaders may work better.


Simard, Albert <albert.simard@...>
 

I fully agree with Andrew’s suggestion.  We happen to use SharePoint with external (invited) access to a space that’s outside the departmental firewall that even our security Nazis can live with.

 

Al


From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...] On Behalf Of Andrew Gent
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2010 10:59 AM
To: sikmleaders@...
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Re: Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

 

>>Unfortunately, as soon as these people retired, all access to the internal network, email accounts, and community sites was terminated.  This prevented them from continuing to contribute, and made them feel like they had been fired.


Another insight: consider establishing your community infrastructure in the DMZ or even outside of corporate networks. I understand this is extremely contentious with corporate IT and legal, but the fact is much of the knowledge transfer that occurs within a company occurs *across* the firewall. Google, ex-colleagues, industry-wide organizations, etc.

At a minimum, consider establishing/encouraging inter-company communities & channels (such as SIKM as Stan points out) as a supplement to internal networks so the relationships can be maintained.

--Andrew


From: StanGarfield
To: sikmleaders@...
Sent: Fri, October 15, 2010 10:37:25 AM
Subject: [sikmleaders] Re: Alumni networks... Knowledge retention strategy or Social club?

 

When I was at HP, a wave of early retirees was about to leave the company.  I asked two of them if they would be willing to continue participating in the communities of practice to which they had belonged before retiring.

One was really retiring (not taking a new job), and he said that he would be glad to continue participating in the project management community which he had helped lead.

One was taking a new job, and he said that he would be willing to continue participating in his community for a modest stipend.  I asked if $1,000 per year would be sufficient, and he said that would be fine.

Unfortunately, as soon as these people retired, all access to the internal network, email accounts, and community sites was terminated.  This prevented them from continuing to contribute, and made them feel like they had been fired.

Insights that I gained from this experience:

  1. If people are leaving voluntarily, consider allowing them to remain members of their communities.  You can set a time limit on this, or a qualitative limit such as "as long as you are still making regular contributions."
  2. Communities focused on specific topics are more likely to work in this way than general alumni networks, since there is context and colleagues to continue to help.
  3. If people are leaving involuntarily, then this approach is unlikely to work.  Communities like SIKM Leaders may work better.