Institutional Memory

There is an old joke that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch in order to tell you what time it is. Unfortunately, there is an element of truth in this as many questions arise because people suddenly find themselves responsible for products and processes without adequate training or documentation. An outsider, like me, who has experience in that arena can frequently help get things moving in the right direction.

Most of these crises could have been avoided via better record keeping, cross training, and succession planning. It was a bit “too late to do the right thing now” for my clients and the painful process of reconstructing data bases and relearning design methods was required.

You may think you will live forever. You may think you are too busy to write things down. It may all seem obvious to you and your co-workers should already know what they need to know. Or you may feel that keeping things to yourself is a key to job security.

Unfortunately, you are very wrong on all counts. Ask around at an industry event and you will hear many tales of companies put at risk by untimely illnesses, deaths, discharges, and retirements. Of computer programs that can no longer be used because the author is “unavailable.”

I should not have to tell you that your work is not done until the paperwork is done. Professionals pride themselves on good results and excellent communications. Don’t be that guy who took all his knowledge with him.

Make the time to write things down, to take notes, and to share that knowledge with others. This is my 500th contribution to this blog. I have presented four papers at AGMA Fall Technical Meetings. I wrote a book on gear design. I have spoken to many student groups besides contributing to the industry via opinion pieces, Ask the Expert events, technical committees, and mentoring sessions.

There is no excuse for not sharing what you know with others. Someone taught you and you need to help others learn. Gear Technology is always looking for fresh content. Add your wisdom and experience to the magazine and its archive.

About Charles D. Schultz 640 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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