For many years I have worked as a counselor to nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations, governments, and associations. I’ve also worked as an employee for all these organizations, save government.
I’ve noticed that they all share a common, and in many cases, fatal deficiency – a lack of institutional memory and a mechanism for carrying forward and implementing lessons learned.
While these organizations differ in size, structure, mission and business plans, they all share an inability to pass forward the lessons learned by past employees, managers and executives.
As a customer, stakeholder, patient or patient advocate, I experience pain when I witness abysmal customer or patient care; management gone AOL; nonexistent quality control; outrageous misfeasance; blatant malfeasance; or, callous disregard for another human being.
From my professional experience, and from my “customer / patient advocate experience”, I know that all of these painful incidents are totally preventable. Further, I know that somewhere in the history of the hospital, retail business, restaurant, etc., someone in the past learned a very expensive lesson — poor business or patent relations practices can become fatal for the organization.
Additionally, if the organization has been around for a while, someone at some time in the past has tried to remedy these common relationship challenges. It’s likely that a vast multitude of consultants have been hired, seminars have been provided and a huge amount of resources have been committed in an effort to teach and implement best practices to prevent the patient/ customer experiences mentioned above.
So, if it’s common to try to teach best practices, then why is it even more common to painfully experience abysmal customer or patient care?
Clearly, for me at least, an answer resides in poor institutional memory.
Talk with any employee or manager at any institution, retail facility, or global corporation. You will likely discover that the person has little to zero best practices training, let alone an understanding of the learned experiences of past employees and managers.
The simple truth is that the institution has literally made no effort to make sure learned experiences are pasted on to succeeding generations of employees. As a result, all that critical, expensive knowledge has vanished into know-nothingness.
I find it both annoying and perplexing that any institution which expects its employees to close a sale, inspire a customer to return, answer a patient’s question or salve-over a disgruntled patient who believes he/she was poorly served by that institution, so brainlessly tosses that critical, expensive knowledge and knowhow to the trash heap.
Finally, I offer this to the “C-level” executives of our world, entrepreneurs and motivated managers:
In your dumpster, next to your building, you will rediscover invaluable proprietary corporate assets - knowledge and hard-won experiences - buried, but crying out to be put to good use once again.
Mick Jagger - Throwaway