Are you “Sharing the Recipes” within your firm?

I was meeting with a group of long-time friends in the OD and training world last evening and the conversation drifted to a family that once owned a well-known restaurant.  This was one of those restaurants we all know; locally owned   by one family for a long time and well attended by the locals because of the great food.  The matriarch of the family knew all of the recipes and was very reluctant to share them with anyone, fearing that her loss of this knowledge would jeopardize her position as the chief cook within the firm.  One day the matriarch died and took with her all of the knowledge about the wonderful dishes that had been prepared by this restaurant for many years.  The entire restaurant had to close because she had not shared her knowledge and expertise with anyone else in the family.  What a shame!

When this story was told I started to think about how this relates to succession planning within organizations.  Just call me weird, okay.  Every organization is  like a family-owned restaurant where every person holds key bits of information that are essential to the success of the restaurant.  In our story above we had one key person who held the most important knowledge, sort of like  Colonel Sanders Secret Recipe of herbs and spices (that is from KFC if you didn’t know who Colonel Sanders was).

What is your organization doing to make sure that the proper knowledge and skills are being transferred from one generation to the next?  Are you doing anything?  Many of you are not.

Over the next week or two I will add more posts regarding how you can keep your firm resilient and relevant by “passing down the recipes” from generation to generation.     This effort, one  of the key parts of knowledge transfer in succession planning, is one of the key differences between success and failure in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

Here are a few questions to ponder as I wrap up this introductory thought:

  • Which individuals hold the key information within your firm?
  • What proactive effort is taking place to transfer this information from one generation to another?
  • What happens if one of those key “knowledge holders” doesn’t come back tomorrow due to death, job change or another reason?
  • Who can you enlist as a partner to help you with this process of knowledge transfer and leadership preparation

Not sure about you, but all this discussion about food has made me hungry.  I think I’ll head to the kitchen and grab something else to eat.

See you soon.