The genius of Albert Einstein’s quotes seems to be their timeless nature. Einstein is often also quoted as saying, “Information is not knowledge.” Interestingly, the rest of that original quote ends with, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Another great quote on the subject is by John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” I dare say that many industries such as Oil & Gas and manufacturing are flooded with technical information and learning content but are beginning to run critically low on the ‘experience’ part.
There has been a slow drain of experience for several years from technical industries. Unfortunately, the recent downturn in the Oil & Gas industry may have cleanly pulled the plug from the drain, resulting in significant job losses and thus long-tenured technical experience. Much of that experience and technical know-how, lost to early retirement, may not return when the industry rebounds.
Companies will need to find creative ways and new technologies that can accelerate the ability for the next generation of incoming workers to gain experience. It will be a race to turn information into knowledge, knowledge into experience, and experience into a more advanced and productive enterprise.
The Keys to achieving this acceleration in industries where there is becoming a shortage of tenured mentors and experience at the ready are:
• Virtual experience – best-practices must be documented right now by your most talented SME’s before they retire using virtual technologies that allow for multi-faceted articulation. Pen and paper and even static digital documents have simply met the end of their technological value. New apps are available that easily capture tenured knowledge, giving the SME the ability to author skill-building exercises that replicate their experience in a step-by-step, consistent fashion. In addition, the SME can pull reference materials (schematics, procedures, video media, etc.) and integrate them into the exercises.
• Mobility – companies that quickly adopt the ability to provide both knowledge and skill-building experiences at the point of work will lead in their respective industries going forward. The sun is setting on the age of stand-up, classroom training and even hours-long e-learning. The incoming workforce has firmly embraced on-demand learning technologies. Media such as YouTube is becoming a valuable source of reference material, professional opinion and step-by-step instruction that can be employed when and where it is needed.
• Collective strength – technical industries, especially Oil & Gas, have to stop operating as a chain of individual assets, each developing best-practices in their own silo’d fashion. There seems to be an inherent eagerness of this next-gen workforce to avoid starting from scratch, but to seek out the best of what exists and build upon it. This may be a condition of pressure put on them earlier in their career to produce results and solutions at a more rapid pace than has ever been expected before. Companies would be wise to harness this energy and, through technology, give them better and more instant access to those building blocks.
The marketplace is responding with some revolutionary technologies, but many industries have been slow adopters. Virtual tools now exist that blend learning elements with skill-building exercises, employable on-demand, that ensure best-practices are learned and followed consistently. Powerful, intrinsically safe, mobile smart devices allow experience to be gained at an accelerated pace and at the point of work.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
Contact us if you need a resource to help. -Brian Cormier, Key Safety