Keep On Learning or Become a Dinosaur

A few years ago, during a Q&A after a conference talk I had given, this popped out of my mouth:

“If you have to do the same things over and over again you might as well stick a fork into your head.”

Of course, there was a context to my somewhat dramatic remark. I was talking about making the attendees’ businesses more sustainable. The attendees were employee-owners which means they own a piece of their company. I pointed out how important it is to capture and document the knowledge that is essential for the company’s success. I call the process for doing that Brilliance Extraction™.

Does Capturing Your Knowledge Make You Dispensable?

One of the questions that came up was: Do persons whose knowledge is captured and documented fear that they might become dispensable? In other words, is there a legitimate fear that they lose their expert status and become less valuable?

The answer is “it depends.” It depends on the company culture and leadership.

We all have heard horror stories of companies that have some of their top experts train someone else. Then that someone else becomes their less expensive replacement. Ouch!

Smart Companies Realize The Value of Protecting Their People’s Knowledge

Yet, smart companies do not play those games. They realize that protecting the knowledge that is critical for their operations and success is vital.

  1. The company grows better.
  2. Scaling up is so much easier because training new people has a systematic, consistent path. It is far less labor-intensive than normal on-the-job training.
  3. Sustainbility of the company is important to all conmpanies.
    • It is especially critical when the company is employee-owned. That is because the employee-owners get the value of their shares paid out as a retirement benefit.
    • What happens when key people leave and take crucial knowledge with them? The company risks losing revenues and profits. Share value goes down, and so do the retirement benefits.

But what led to my comment about the fork in the head? I was a little startled by how that came out. To my surprise, several people came up to me after the Q&A and agreed with me wholeheartedly.

Capturing the Knowledge of Your Experts Creates New Opportunities

Capturing the knowledge of your experts creates new opportunities. Now, the knowledge is trainable. Others in the organization can learn it. New staff can learn it, too. It is faster and at far less cost than traditional on-the-job training.

Here is an additional key benefit: Those experts’ time can be put to even higher and better use. The experts can tackle even more challenging areas of expertise. They can keep on learning new things. The experts can create new aha’s, visions, products, and services.

Brilliance Extraction is not only about duplicating what you already have developed. It is also an opportunity to improve and further develop. Nowadays, companies must do that more than ever. The pace of change in our society, our technologies, and our way of life are staggering. It is faster than ever.

Dr. Stephie


Thus, you can’t afford to do the same thing over and over and think you will keep thriving or even surviving. Sooner rather than later, you turn into a dinosaur and the competition passes you by.

How Smart Is It …?

I’m not sure whether “sticking a fork into your head” was the best metaphor for my message.

But how smart is it

  • To make our experts feel like their job security depends on keeping their know-how close to their chests?
  • To waste their intellectual and creative capabilities on doing the same things over and over? Things that could be delegated to others with a little effort on building training systems?

The bottom line is:
We need to keep on learning and creating so we can stay ahead and not become dinosaurs. (We know what happened to them.)
Luckily, that is fun to do, and with Brilliance Extraction™ it is reasonably easy to do.

I’m Curious

  • What is your experience with this subject?
  • To what extent are you or others in your organziation forced to doing the same things over and over – because you/tehy are the only ones able to do it?
  • What could happen if you made soem of the knowledge systematically trainable?

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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