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Article -> Prepare for Baby Boomer Retirement

Date Added: August 2008

NOTE: This article appeared in the July 27, 2008 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

With 25 million Baby Boomers retiring by 2013, this is an opportune time for talent management and succession planning. Unfortunately, research indicates up to 75 percent of firms have not confronted this loss of talent and knowledge.

This is even more relevant as not only will there be a loss in talent and leadership, but also shear numbers of people. There are nearly 80 million Baby Boomers and only 46 million Generation X individuals to fill the gap.

While June’s article discussed relentless execution and the need to have a dedicated role for deploying results for execution, this cannot occur without quality people and knowledge transfer between the generations. This requires organizations become experts on learning by following these steps:

  • Provide learning guidelines. Create processes to share best practices from each other, consultants, articles, competitors and other industries. This needs to be encouraged and part of the corporate culture.
  • Provide collaborative tools. To accomplish the above, employees must have proper tools to share knowledge in real time. Develop learning teams for face-to-face meetings, networking and on-site training.

  • Prioritize and measure. Allow variation from guidelines as long as they are documented. Have teams prioritize critical performance indicators, measure and communicate results. If the variation improves a process, change the process.

  • Practice reflection. Learning can be time-consuming and labor intensive. Be prepared for this and willing to support the effort to reap the rewards.

Becoming a learning organization will help close the gap so your organization is prepared for the future transition of Boomers to Generation X leaders.

If you’re uncertain if your organization needs to be a learning organization, see Toyota . They have implemented a bottom-up Lean/continuous improvement approach following the 4 steps outlined above. And they want other firms to learn from them as they willingly share their strategy and welcome factory tours. 

Preparing future leaders with knowledge is not enough as knowledge without learning is like making a decision without all of the facts.

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