29 March 2015

Intellectual Capital: Mentor or Die...

The Operational Risk Management (ORM) associated with the loss of personnel is real. What mechanisms are in place at your organization to ensure that human capital and intellectual capital is being perpetuated? The education of new employees and the processes, systems and core metrics of the business is vital and in many cases an after thought.

Organizations today that are establishing robust human capital mentorship, education, rotation of duties and continuous training will out last and surpass the competition at some point. That point could be sooner than you think with Baby Boomer retirement or even an unexpected incident that involves catastrophic loss of life within a unit within your enterprise.

What kind of emphasis do you have on teaching the "Craft" and the "Art" of a profession or set of tasks that are the lifeblood of the business you are in? The apprenticeship model is one that has been lost in the last decade to lean work forces and outsourcing tasks that are deemed non essential to the core operations of the business, or are they?

Whether the internship model or the summer staff is how you find the right mix of people for your organization you still must go beyond this to create a sustainable program. Each business unit should then be required to take a percentage of each summer interns to become an apprentice in a business unit or even a section of the public facing organization. There are some leaders at these institutions that realize the risks associated with an aging workforce and the loss of intellectual capital as they retire or go on to another firm for higher pay as a consultant.

Leadership at these enlightened organizations formalizes the ability for units and sections of the business to teach, train, educate and mentor new members of the institution. The understanding that the risk of a loss of personnel is an Operational Risk that can be mitigated through effective human resource capital management and effective staff engagement is the beginning.

Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices (or in early modern usage "prentices") or protégé

The system of apprenticeship first developed in the later Middle Ages and came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A master craftsman was entitled t (usually a term of seven years), but some would spend time as a journeyman and a significant proportion would never acquire their own workshop.

There are several trades that practice this extensively such as engineering, carpenters, electricians, plumbing and other vocations. The whole industry surrounding the medical profession has its specific path including the residency program as a step towards becoming a M.D.. The law profession has its own steps for becoming a J.D. and working your way up to being able to handle a case all on your own, from start to finish.

The concept of transferring the intellectual capital to maintain the "craft" or the "art" of the expert craftsmen or artisan is fading outside the typical union oriented trade groups. Have you seen an apprenticeship program in the core work roles within an Information Technology department? What about the software development teams? And if you really want to determine where you may be most vulnerable in your organization, look no farther than the office of Business Continuity. Do you even have an office of Business Continuity or Crisis Management? What kind of ongoing recruiting is helping to build the expertise and the art of "Continuity of Operations" or "Disaster Preparedness"?

If you think about the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) of your organization you identified the core areas that are vital to your own survivability. These are exactly where you need to start investing in the development of a set of programs that will teach skills, perpetuate the intellectual knowledge and keep your enterprise from being devastated from a sudden loss of skilled personnel.

There are numerous examples of organizations that have prospered and established chapters all over the globe to promote their particular brand of mentoring, whether it be a business entrepreneur to business entrepreneur or a scientist to another scientist. These by all means are important to keep the spirit of mentorship alive. But it is not enough.

Think deep and hard about how much your organization is mitigating the risk of a loss of personnel and intellectual capital. What are the programs you have in place to actually teach the craft or art that is at the core of the persons job or role on a daily basis? Who is the co-pilot to the First Officer on your flight today? Can one of the flight attendants fly the plane if both pilots are incapacitated for any reason? You get the message...Intellectual Capital x Skills Development = Survivability:

How do firms like Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, Dow Chemical, IBM, and Texas Instruments routinely convert the ideas of their employees into profits that sustain the corporation? How can buyers and sellers calculate the assets of the acquired firm in a merger or acquisition? How can an organization affect the firm's stock price using the leverage of intellectual assets? Identifying a firm's assets, especially its intellectual assets-the proprietary knowledge expressed as a recipe, formula, trade secret, invention, program, or process-has become critical to a company's overall vision and strategic plan and essential in such transactions as stock offerings or mergers.

In the era of the knowledge-based company, where the firm's genius and future lies in its ideas, a firm's collective know-how has become a measurable commodity-and as much a part of its bottom line as the condition of its cash investments, plant, and equipment. Extracting and measuring the real value of knowledge is essential for any corporate head who knows how high the stakes have become for corporate survival in the information age-where the innovative idea is as good as, if not better than, gold!

The Operational Risk associated with the mentoring, apprenticeship and skills training in your organization, is a factor of your Intellectual Capital equation. What is yours?

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