Harvesting Wisdom

How baby boomers can use business simulations and run interactive workshops to develop the future generations.











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Today and tomorrow businesses face significant business wisdom loss as baby boomers retire and leave. Here we explores this issue suggesting that business simulations are an effective and efficient way capture and to transfer baby boomer wisdom to the next generations of business people.

Why Harvesting Wisdom?

I use the phrase “Harvesting Wisdom” because I believe strongly that wisdom is crucial to making the decisions that lead to business and personal success - wisdom that is an amalgam of knowledge and experience. I use the word harvesting as I feel that one’s career metaphorically parallels the growth of a plant. Just as a plant extracts and uses nutrients from the soil a business person extracts and uses knowledge from school, university and training. But, just as a plant needs sun and water to develop, the business person needs experience to be able to use their knowledge wisely. Then, when ripe, the plant is harvested and, if a vegetable, used to feed people. All too often the situation is different for the business person. When he or she reaches his or her peak but before his or her wisdom is harvested and used he or she retires - a situation that is the same as the plant being transferred to the trash rather than to the kitchen!

Why a business simulation?

A way of overcoming this is for the baby boomer to use a business simulation to provide accelerated and controlled coaching for groups of business people. The business simulation provides an environment that is focused on doing rather than knowing and provides guided practice and problem solving and where the role of the experienced business person (baby boomer) is to coach and challenge and in doing make explicit his or her tacit knowledge (wisdom).

Why is this appropriate?

Feedback from companies who have used their own staff to run a business simulation emphasises that having in-company experienced managers run the business simulation ensures relevant and effective learning.

This is illustrated by comments from Schneider Electric (Square D) in-company facilitators who summarised their experience running a business simulation saying “training by Schneider employees was more about having local market knowledge than cost”. Likewise, Gambro (a major supplier of medical equipment) felt that “Each simulation was tutored by a Gambro senior manager (either a GM or someone with an MBA and several years experience) because this person would have the necessary in-depth knowledge of the business, its issues and the financial understanding that goes with it”. Over a year and a half 320 senior Gambro managers learnt from the simulation run by in-company staff and at the end Jamie Stokoe (Gambro’s Director of People and Organisational Development) reviewed the initiative stating “it was very pleasing to see the programme deliver all that was expected and more”.

What might you do?

Baby boomers might have a soft retirement where they spend one or two days a week coaching younger, more junior business people. But one-to-one coaching is inefficient. Using a business simulation allows twenty or so business people to be coached simultaneously and ensures the harvesting and transfer of wisdom.

© 2010 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 01/01/15
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