Corporate memory

Last Friday, my former colleague Josie left work for the last time.

She’d been there almost 44 years; she’d actually started work at the former Leeds City Transport, which was folded into West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in April 1974 before transmogrifying into the Combined Authority in 2014. While it was sad to see her go, it also meant a reunion of sorts for me with people I had known over the almost 16 years I worked there.

Over the last few years, hundreds of years-worth of ‘corporate memory’ has left my old place. I did joke, late last year, that those of us who have moved on could form a pretty good transport consultancy between us. Or, perhaps, it’s not a joke at all…

It is, of course, perfectly acceptable for any organisation to restructure and renew itself how it sees fit. Any organisation that fails to move with the times is doomed to failure.

But what people forget is that ‘corporate memory’ doesn’t mean “we’ve always done it this way.”

It also means “we’ve learned from our mistakes.”

It means “we’ve already identified lots of potential solutions to this problem.”

It means “we know who to approach, when, and how, for help.”

Passing the baton

Good organisations take those years of experience and make sure it’s kept, archived and made available to the next generation, so that the organisation can respond more quickly when similar issues arise or problems need solving. As a Chartered Librarian and serial hoarder, I might be slightly biased on the archival front.

But think how much harder life would be if every few decades we had to reinvent the wheel, or the sextant, or the Internet – because no-one wrote down what we did the first time. It’s the same with organisations. You might want to get individuals off your payroll (especially the curmudgeonly ones like me) but our experiences you ought to document for the future.

You might never want or need us again, but you never know if you need to know what we know.

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