Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Many organizations are confronted with a work force spanning up to four generations that need to work together to share information and knowledge. We're exploring the opportunities associated with a multigenerational work force and how that impacts knoweldge sharing, capture, retention, innovation, and productivity.

This afternoon, we have three presenters on the topic of multi-generational knowledge sharing.

Captain Ralph Soule, U.S. Navy Team Carrier One

Responsible for the USN overhaul program for submarines and air craft carriers.

Capt. Soule shared his experience on a ship with multiple nuclear propulsion plants. Here he was, recognized as an expert in the equipment he oversaw, yet he was not allowed to touch a valve. Knowledge transfer is so important to survival of the ship (and the mission).

Spoke about the strengh of the critique process (another term for after action review) for identifying lessons learned and reinforcing them in real time operations (on a ship). Shared how he educated his crew that this is a core process in learning faster - a source of competitive advantage.

Challenges for intergenerational knoweldge sharing:

> Some of the young people, don't know what they don't know.

Solution: Create a context in which it is safe to share that you don't know.

> High mobility. Career people are less common

Solution: Find ways to keep people engaged; help them grow

> Senior Leaders did not always have good role models

Best practice: Shadowing The Boss.

He invites new folks to shadow him for a week.
They get to observe how he: prepares for the day, for meetings, works with his staff, equips his staff to support him.
They get to ask questions (he has to remind them). Nothing is off limit.
Discussion balancing personal and professional life; great opener; builds trust; makes knowledge sharing easy.
I suspect it also gets rid of some of the intimidation that may be felt by subordinate when working with the Captain.

At the end of the week, he asks the person, :what worked well?; what didn't?
This is a valuable oppotunity because he also gets 1:1 feedback he could not get any other way.

Best practice: Decision Games
- practicing difficult decisions in context
(Gave us a structure for organizing good decision games)

NOTE: Steer clear of the "one correct answer." The purpose is to think though the process and learn from the experience - not just to get the right answer.

Best practice:
Case Studies: In highly reliable organization, where problems are infrequent - studying the problems of other organizations is a good training tool. (e.g. study the challenger or columbia disaster report and see what you learn.)

Best Practice: Listen to stories.
At conferences, take detailed notes on the stories you hear. That's where the value is.

Best Practice: Learn to communicate succintly
. BLUF if you need to (Bottom Line Up Front)

Discussion/Comments (6):

Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

" in the equipment he oversaw, yet he was not allowed to touch a valve." Just to enforce knowledge transfer. Great quote, great mechanism.

Thanks for the write-ups from this conference.


Posted at 09/11/2008 0:41:34 by Reinout van Rees

Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

It is such a shame that they are not posting videos of the session. Thankfully, you are doing doing such a great job blogging the conference.

Posted at 09/11/2008 9:12:11 by Pascal Venier

re: Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

The audio is being recorded and is available for purchase. Otherwise, best bet is to follow my blog and Michael's blog. Glad you are enjoying the posts.

- Eric

Posted at 09/29/2008 20:23:42 by Eric Mack

re: Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

Some of these stories are truly amazing. You are welcome.


Posted at 09/29/2008 20:45:45 by Eric Mack

Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

Thanks for the nice summary of my remarks, Eric. I was not very pleased that the conference organizers made it so hard to access the presentations after the event and did not even make the paper I wrote, covering all the points in some detail, available on the conference web site.

I have uploaded it to my web site. It is available here:

{ Link }

Posted at 09/13/2009 10:37:12 by Ralph Soule

Multi-Generational Knowledge Sharing

I just tested the link and it does not work on my computer. If you go to and the select the link to the file-storage-area, then the link for junior-engineering-duty-officer-guides, the file is called "Skill - Full Contact Mentoring for High Performance.doc"

Posted at 09/13/2009 10:42:49 by Ralph Soule

Discussion for this entry is now closed.