"tacit knowledge" & "knowledge assets" lost upon manufacturing plant closings

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Mon, 12/17/2012 - 15:36.
A friend recently contacted me: the manufacturing plant where he has worked for years is due to close - because of corporate decisions about different divisions consolidating, etc.  You have heard the jargon...
A few years ago my friend had invited me to visit the plant and tour it with him for an afternoon.   I was facinated by some of the complex production systems and by the people who worked on the production lines - keeping the whole operation moving.     There were a lot of machines required to  run in a more or less harmonized manner.    Which required a lot of humans to run in a  more or les harmonized manner.  Like an orchestra with its bunch of instruments... 
The plant had been in operation for, I'd guess, fifty years, and I know there isn't any book or set of written instructions which make  it all work.    What makes it work was the embedded knowledge experience of the employee team.
So when I heard the plant was scheduled to close, the first thing I thought about was the upcoming diaspora of the "tacit knowledge" team - the almost 600 workers - who made the plant function.   
I thought, who is going to record all that "tacit knowledge" before it vanishes?
Here is a discussion of knowledge management asset categories:
Inline image 1
"tacit knowledge" is another term generally synonymous with the knowledge management concept:
Wikipedia explains:    "With tacit knowledge, people are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact, regular interaction [3] and trust. This kind of knowledge can only be revealed through practice in a particular context and transmitted through social networks.[4] To some extent it is "captured" when the knowledge holder joins a network or a community of practice."

The paragraph above - defining "tacit knowledge" - hits the nail on the head with regard to the manufacturing plant and the 600 people who have a working community there.   

Why does/should Corporate care or give a damn?

While the terms "knowledge management" and "tacit knowledge" are perhaps a bit esoteric,  we all know what they are.  We have all experienced the energy which comes from being included and learning and using and knowing "tacit knowledge".     

Just one benefit from recording the knowledge asssets before the plant closes is that  each individual will recognize that they are  valuable and appreciated.    
See helpful graphics of "tacit knowledge per Nonaka and Takeuchi here at Google images.
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