How to Cope With Corporate Amnesia

What is corporate amnesia and what can businesses do, to improve this situation? This article gives out the answer. Here’s how you can cope with this.

Every time an employee quits his job, a company loses part of its knowledge, the collective values it carries and also its know-how ‘memory’. Since most young workers today change jobs often and fail to pass on their company knowledge, organisations are increasingly falling victim to ‘corporate amnesia’. This phenomenon describes a situation in which businesses lose their memory of how to do things and how to effectively perform. This knowledge and experience that is “lost in translation” is called ‘organisational memory’ and it’s crucial for a business to hold on to.

As Arnold Kransdorff writes in his book Corporate Amnesia: Keeping Know-How in the Company, organizational memory is probably the most important constituent of any institution’s durability. This refers to the knowledge of how systems work and describes the processes that take place in an organisation for its effective operation. When corporate amnesia prevails, it slows down the development internally and makes it difficult for the business to compete in the market.

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If you think your business is suffering from corporate amnesia there are a couple of things you can do to improve the situation.

1. Stay Organised

organised employee

The best way to preserve the memory of your organisation is to stay on top of projects you are carrying out and take good care of important reports. This ensures that nothing gets lost when an employee leaves a position and that all company documents are saved for future use – for the next person who takes over the job. Staying organised can be a life-saver because it means that you can retrieve key documents whenever you need them.

2. Organise Meetings

businesspeople working at meeting

Meetings can be a big time waster at work but when your company is struggling with corporate amnesia, you have to be willing to sacrifice some time to save your company. The good thing about meetings is that they inform every employee involved about important business decisions, changes in policies and give employees access to essential information. If you want to get the most out of your business meetings and ensure employees will hold on to their organisational memory, you need to have a clear agenda on how it’s going to be delivered and focus on the important decisions made.

3. Over-Communicate

business team meeting

In situations like these, over-communication is a must. Apart from scheduling frequent meetings, make sure that every employee knows exactly what they need to do – what it is expected from them, and what processes they need to follow to carry out their job effectively. Instant messaging applications like Slack, can help improve business communications and help you and employees stay up to date every step of the way. Training employees is another useful solution to corporate amnesia as it can help current and new employees familiarise themselves with the business processes and if possible learn to use modern and more effective working methods.

Corporate amnesia is a reality, and you should do something about it before your business starts losing its collective values and identity. If there is any sign your business may be facing corporate amnesia, try out these strategies and see how they can help you out.   

Have you ever dealt with corporate amnesia? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments section below…




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