Succession Planting for Retiring Experts

This article is also posted at the International Federation on Aging website here.

As a newbie gardener, I subscribe to lots of gardening magazines and email lists to get up the learning curve as quickly as possible. This morning, I received an email about succession planting for a bountiful garden all season long. For those who have been cultivating a lifetime of knowledge, we also have waves of harvests. And it seems that the rules for succession planting in our gardens also make sense for succession planning for our lifetimes of contribution to the world around us.

Growing meals throughout the season means consistently looking forward, and reaping harvests from your education and experience means looking forward, too.

Let’s apply the 6 tips for choosing appropriate crops for succession planting to succession planning for your ongoing contribution to the world:

  1. Rotate plants in season. After you have harvested the value of your education and experience in one career, use that bed of knowledge to prepare for your next adventure – be it volunteerism, consulting or starting an enterprise of your own. Your prior experience will help lessen the chance for failure.
  2. Sow or transplant a small amount of seeds at one time at regular intervals. Make sure you have several little projects and interests in play for a well-rounded life. Your new business doesn’t mean giving up your volunteering. One thing may always lead to another.
  3. When planting late in the season, choose plants that can be enjoyed young. When you embark on an adventure completely new to you, choose one that you can enjoy immediately, like learning a few chords on the piano that allow you to play a simple three-chord song for immediate gratification.
  4. Switch varieties for switching weather. As your life changes, or as your mind, body and emotions change, be prepared to try a new hobby, interest or career path more in tune with who you are becoming.
  5. Consider how two plants share a space and interplant complimentary varieties. Think about the people around you, how you can build teams and community, and how you can serve others. Life is more fun lived with and for others.
  6. Transplant and sow directly. Sometimes you want to take skills and abilities from other parts of your life and earlier career paths, and use them in your current pursuits. Some other things can be started from scratch so you can always be learning something new.

Life is, indeed, our garden to nourish, grow and enjoy. With some care, you can reap harvests throughout all its seasons as you continue to mature, contribute and participate while sharing your unique gifts, talents and experiences to leave everything better than the way you found it.

Imagining Knowledge in the Age of AI

K35621_cvr  Artificial intelligence, data, analytics, neural net, computer-human interface…these aren’t the future. They are now. For those of us with a foot in the age of human intelligence and a foot in the age of artificial intelligence, it makes us wonder: so what do we make of what we know, if we (as humans) may become irrelevant?

It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds.

This blog will be brief because the idea is huge, and I want to give us all time and space to ponder this one thought.

Humans are finite, at least for now. We have a limited lifespan. For generosity’s sake, let’s call it 100 years. And then we take what we know with us when we go.

Some of us have preserved our thoughts, ideas and creativity for future generations, but let me venture to guess that most of us have not.

For millennia, without that knowledge capture, preservation and transfer, we kept starting all over.

All that changed with the printing press, and accelerated rapidly with video and audio capture. Look at the rapid proliferation of knowledge, now doubling about every one or two years because we are able to continue to build on what came before.

So what is the threat of AI to human intelligence? Here it is…

Computers don’t die. Teach them to think, and they will keep thinking and growing and learning and eventually…well, their intelligence surpasses that of any human simply because their learning curve is theoretically infinite.

This is what all the fuss is about.

I leave you with that.

And encourage your thoughts and debate in the comment section or send an email at workingwithsmes@gmail.com.

Oh, by the way, my latest book, Retaining Expert Knoweldge: What to Keep in an Age of Information Overload, was published in hard cover on May 10 and you can buy it here. I just noticed that a Kindle version has been added. Thank you for your continued interest!

 

Working with Retiree-Experts and an Encounter with a Growing Business Niche

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Experts who know home construction or music production are not usually experts in how to package and sell their services. So when they are facing retirement – whether or not by choice – the desire to continue to serve often burns within them. If you are that retiring expert, how do you offer your services outside the structure that your old job provided?

A 2013 survey by AARP showed that 23.6% of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs 55 to 64 years of age expecting another 15 to 20 productive years. I have personally worked with several vital octogenarians in the past few years who were still actively contributing while taking steps – such as writing books and building training programs – to preserve their legacy.

Some retiring experts find a way to offer their services ad hoc to friends and former colleagues. But others get more deliberate about creating a business of their own. In fact, retiring experts have created a boon in a niche market teaching business skills to people trying their hand at entrepreneurship in their second career. Experts retiring from one field seek other experts who know modern marketing, sales and revenue-generating techniques to handle the business details for them. Last week, I attended a conference of about 200 experts – many of whom were building retiree or second-life businesses – sponsored by a company based in Montreal that teaches experts how to handle the business end for themselves.

Combining Expertise and Business Acumen

Often, successful enterprises are based on the subject matter expertise of person and the business acumen of another, and that combination can make a big difference in the world.

Think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. We know one name so well and the other…not so much. Jobs and Wozniak are the dream team responsible for the first personal computer and the company that came to be Apple. Jobs knew computers but he really understood business, marketing and his customer. Their dynamic pairing demonstrates that many great businesses are built on an expert who joins forces with an entrepreneur who can envision the possibilities.

The experts at the Montreal conference each paid close to $20,000 for business support over the next 12 months from this team of business building experts. Obviously, this company found a lucrative niche by filling in that business knowledge gap helping experts to monetize the value of their specialty, and for both parties I imagine it is a good deal.

Not all experts want or need to monetize their expertise commercially. Sometimes the satisfaction of passing on your hard-earned knowledge in front of a college class or in journal articles is more than enough reward.

But for experts who are looking to build a business on a lifetime of knowledge, there are people building businesses to help you. AARP can’t be wrong. With nearly a quarter of new businesses started by entrepreneurs of retirement age, any expert with a passion can live the entrepreneurial dream in the second half of life.

Perhaps we can start a club: E. R. A. Experts of Retirement Age.

Are you in a corporation losing its expertise to retirement? Your expert may thrive in retirement. Let me help you review your knowledge management plan so your company can thrive after they leave, too. Contact us at workingwithsmes@gmail.com

 

Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

 

 

The Online Course Opportunity and Your Expertise

jazmin-quaynor-392995The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically one that is slow or completely non-existent for business. Traditionally, I use that week to do a lot of offline activities to plan for the upcoming year. This year I took two great online courses, and decided to build one of my own in 2018.

First, the plan.

The last few years, I went through Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever online course and found it very helpful in the way it structures your planning process, challenges your assumptions, pressure tests your goals and is full of logical advice. He has captured the course in a book that launches today, Tuesday January 2, and if you grab it now it comes with some bonuses available until the end of the week, Friday January 5. His bonuses are terrific  and will help you apply what you learn in the book. If you are still in your planning stage for 2018, I recommend it. Here’s a link that will get you the book and bonuses.

As part of my 2018 goals, I am going to build an online course to accompany the launch of my next book due out later this year. The book, Retaining Expert Knowledge: What to Keep in an Age of Information Overload, takes the Working with SMEs series into some new territory. Writing this book met one of my 2017 goals to write a book with a major publisher, and I am very happy about meeting that goal. (More about the upcoming book in later blog posts.) Writing a book is just the first step, however, because it is getting the book and ideas out to the public that is the most important part of the process.

As part of that effort, I am going to build an online course to help readers apply the content of Retaining Expert Knowledge to their areas of expertise and their companies. Which leads me to the second course I took last week.

Executing the Plan

Big plans are accomplished one small step at a time. As Michael Hyatt says in his course (paraphrased), you only need to take the next small step to attain big goals. If your goal is big, hairy and audacious enough, you won’t know exactly how to get there. Hyatt advises that you set goals outside your comfort zone and take the very next small step that you can see, and it will usually appear in the form of resources or some kind of help that you need. That is exactly what happened. I had signed up with an elearning hosting platform, and they offered a course to make the most of your investment.

For three days, I delved into how to use this particular online platform and now I am very excited about building and presenting an online course for Retaining Expert Knowledge.

The course reminded us:

  1. Online learning is mainstream.
  2. Education is now lifelong.
  3. People want bite-sized information.
  4. Information wants to be free.
  5. The size of the online opportunity is about to explode.

Learning from Experts

For those experts who read this blog and the trainers who work with them, that list tells us that we’ve only just begun. As knowledge and information explodes, we have so much to share and people have less time to absorb it. It is a great time to share what you know and do it in a way that you can reach a lot of people.

Massive amounts of information are free or very inexpensive. Because information is free, you have to earn the space you take up in someone’s brain. Keep it short. Keep it relevant. And provide value. Blogs are one of the new “free information” sources, as well as endless streams of webinars, podcasts and more.

That is why when building a course for sale, experts need to build premium courses.  Your Expertise 101 is free, and Your Expertise 301 premium course has some price attached to it as well as support that helps your learners apply the information.

Today is the first workday of 2018. It is exciting to do what we love. And it is equally exciting to share what we love. If you are an expert in some area and have something to share or teach, think about the fact that adult learning is all-the-time, online, bite-sized and much of it is free.

You don’t have to wait to be asked. Get out there and share what you’ve got. People want to know. You can be part of the knowledge explosion.

 

Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever!

. Lost305656_YourBestYearEverHyatt_posts12  No matter how good your life is, isn’t there one thing you want to  achieve that has exceeded your grasp until now? Time to saddle up. With two more weeks to 2017 on the calendar, it’s time to come up with a plan to reach your next highest level.

Let me recommend Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever online course and the new Your Best Year Ever book for goal-setting and goal-achieving.

Many of my readers are experts, executives and people who like to excel. Because I know that you like to make the most of life, that is why I call this to your attention to this program.

Last December, I jumped into the Best Year Ever online course through one of the Best Year Ever affiliate partners, Ray Edwards, top-drawer copywriter for people like Tony Robbins, Jeff Walker and Hyatt. Those of us who took the online course with Ray benefitted from his support, wisdom and humor all year with online support groups in real time. It was fun and provided a level of interaction with others that was truly helpful in moving some of the mountains in my life and getting me unstuck when things got tough.

[To take the course with Ray, here’s a link that will get you support through Ray Edwards International.]

Working through the online Best Year Ever course over five days for an hour each morning between last Christmas and New Year’s Day, I looked at all areas of my life, saw where I was already living large and places where I wasn’t living very well at all. I made some adjustments, I worked hard during 2017 and had a lot of support from Ray’s team. I moved a few mountains…well, at least, got a few scoops of dirt in my shovel…in some important areas.

The 20 pounds I wanted to lose? They went to the Lost and Found. I lost some and most of them found me again.

The book I wanted to write? Check. My first professionally published book combining much of my work is slated to come out early in 2018. More on that as we get closer.

My finances? Meh.

I learned a few things. One is that you can really make massive progress in a few areas of your life and check off a few important boxes. In other areas, you can continue to plan, line things up, course correct and continue.

That’s what I am doing for 2018. Because I took the journey in 2017, I can recommend enthusiastically that if you still have a few mountains to move, this is a great way to do it. You’ll go through a self-assessment and goal-setting process that will reveal some things to you and show you the way forward. And you’ll get year ’round support from people who have done it before. The course has a few options, some with online support and some with a live conference option.

Your Best Year Ever program has been a bright light in 2017 for me. Therefore, it has  been an honor to be part of Michael Hyatt’s launch team of 500 believers who are promoting the book version of Your Best Year Ever. No, I don’t get paid to say this. I do, however, get the satisfaction of being part of something valuable and being an evangelist for something worthwhile.

For those of you who don’t know about Michael…

Michael Hyatt is the grand-daddy of online leadership mentors and a role model for entrepreneurs. Among the recent proliferation of online businesses owners and self-published book authors, Hyatt stands out as the one who cut the trail, the one who went first and showed others the way. He built a very successful online business with a lot of self-discipline, planning and focus. He has broken down his methods in a series of online courses, books and live programs.

Hyatt first came to my attention as the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing, the company I knew as the publishers of John Maxwell’s leadership books. Maxwell is iconic in the leadership industry. If Hyatt led that company, I figured he is the real deal. He is.

To get started making 2018 Your Best Year Ever, click here to take the Best Year Ever online LifeScore survey find out where you stand now in all domains of your life. Then decide which mountains you will move in 2018.

For those who would rather read the book, it will be available January 2, 2018. Here’s a link to pre-order Your Best Year Ever the book.

NOTE: There are several different links that will lead you to the Best Year Ever online course directly through Michael Hyatt, one that will lead you to the online course with support from Ray Edwards International, one that will take you to a page to pre-order the book and one that leads you to a free online LifeScore to get you started.

 

 

Can Experts Teach? Well, Sometimes…

aaron-ang-61849   Yesterday I met for coffee with an expert in operational efficiency. He runs workshops, and he observed that the experts he has met have trouble teaching what they know. He said the best teachers are people who are middling performers – people he described as performing at 60 to 80 percent of someone who is excellent.

Because middling performers have had to work so hard to be good enough, they understand how to acquire their craft, skill or knowledge. They know the steps so well because they figured them out so they could attempt to replicate greatness.

Greatness, on the other hand, just is. And people who are great, just are. They can’t tell you how they do what they do because it is instinctual and innate. Therefore, my coffee companion concluded, it is pretty hard to get a great person to teach a class or teach anyone anything effectively.

This observation is the basis for the Working with SMEs book in which I describe the innately great person as an unconscious competent, they don’t even know what they know, so they have trouble telling others. The book explains why the conscious competent –  the person who knows what they know and how they learned it – is the best teacher of a craft, skill or knowledge. In their struggles, the conscious competent has put the building blocks in place to acquire something valuable.

We can probably all think of exceptions to this situation, but for the most part, he was correct.

Mel Torme – arguably one of the greatest jazz singers of all time – recorded a master class for PBS in the early 1960s where he described some of his technique. On the other hand, when you observe his face and mouth, and listen to his tone, you know how much of what he did was purely instinctive and based somewhere in his soul.

Imagine Picasso teaching someone how to paint. Then look at Guernica and imagine the mind that conceived those images. That greatness came deep from within his soul, and went far beyond paint, brush and canvas to the very meaning of existence.

For a genius in the world of science, read Ray Kurzweil who imagined artificial intelligence and leads humanity to the next level of possibility through technology.

Hard to teach that kind of inspiration.

To find a teacher, look for someone who has broken down the components of a piece of greatness into replicable chunks.

To find your own greatness, look deep inside yourself and find your truth. Everyone is a great something, and your soul knows what that is.

Photo by Aaron Ang on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Vantage Point of the Expert Takes You Out of the Instructional Design Box

ben-white-197668  Twice this week, experts around me reminded me about the unique way they see the world and how it impacts the way their knowledge gets passed on.

In fact, twice this week I faced experts with important lifetimes of knowledge within them who had thought deeply about how best to package and move that information beyond them to others who can benefit from it. In both cases, their solutions are unique and complex but necessary to the tasks they have set forth.

Touchy-Feely

One communications expert is searching for ways to teach his very unique skill set to the several generations behind him. Like any skill, acquiring and mastering it takes physical practice. The value of his method has been proven over decades and he is recognized for his system by world-class organizations. But beyond the one-on-one practice sessions where he teaches his system, the long view requires setting up a practice pattern among participants until the habit is engrained in the students and the system is part of a culture.

In a world where we communicate mostly via smartphones and computers, it is increasingly difficult to engage people for extended periods of time in face-to-face human interaction. Yet in a time of increased human-to-device interface, the human interaction required for interpersonal skill practice has never been more important.

The basic skill set requires two humans –  not a human and a computer-based role play or a human and a disembodied AI voice. While those two options were my first thoughts, this expert makes it clear that the lessons to be taught and the skills to be learned require human beings involved in the process over time.

This expert’s dilemma highlights that learning technologies won’t fit all needs, and we are faced with the limitations of moving this type of skill to an online platform.  Only the expert understands his system well enough to transfer it, and he has come to realize that he will need something akin to 12 disciples who can carry the practice forward by geometrically dispersing the interpersonal skill practice required.

By the Book

The second expert is a process genius. Quite simply, he sees patterns in numbers and relationships where others only see isolated data. He has a lifetime of imposing order on what others perceive to be random information, and doing it in a way that saved and makes corporations many times over his value as a consultant.

Today, as he considers retirement, he is assembling his lifetime of knowledge into a searchable database of information. Each individual business insight is broken down into steps. The project will involve 100 or more related experts before it is through.

This challenge is more about organization than content, as the actual content is straightforward. However, each bit of information relates to the whole in several ways which creates an interwoven matrix of content that must be easily cross-referenced.

The Expert Knows Best

Two experts. Two radically different areas of expertise. And two completely different approaches to capturing, storing and transferring knowledge.

Proving once again, working with experts is as individual as their knowledge, their backgrounds, and the unique characteristics of what they have to offer. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when you are working with true experts with a lifetime of knowledge, skills and attitudes that led to great success. They have put a lot of thought into developing their areas of expertise, many hours teaching others, they know what works, and it pays to follow their instincts when you are capturing it for posterity.

Sometimes your expert is the best source for how to transfer what they know. Best not to try to squeeze them into an instructional design box because their expertise just won’t fit.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The Ultimate Knowledge Management CQI Process for Organizational Leaders

imagesQC7VSL6F.jpg     Knowledge management is an ongoing, living process.

Ideally, it is part of the knowledge management component of your larger business continuity strategic plan. Using the concept of continuous quality improvement, these six-steps reinforce the idea that your knowledge management process is iterative; you will revisit your decisions in the future, make new ones, and change your tactics to align with evolving business strategy.

Also, it is helpful to recognize that parts of the cycle are always in play somewhere in your organization. As you think about your knowledge management plan, consider the 6 Steps of CPI Knowledge Management framework to review the value of the assets you will dedicate your finite resources to preserve.

6 Steps of Continuous Process Improvement Knowledge Management

  1. Discover and uncover KSAs. Drill down to identify the knowledge, skills and attitudes that make your company unique by uncovering your Competitive Advantages.
  2. Categorize critical information. Distinguish among critical information that makes your company, product or service unique in the marketplace, essential information that is general to your industry but necessary to operations, and non-essential information that is nice-to-have. Identify critical KSAs for business continuity.
  3. Search for internal experts. Find your internal experts who are the keys to your success and possess your critical information.
  4. Capture and preserve critical KSAs. Work with your internal experts to capture your critical knowledge, skills and attitudes using methods that authentically capture them and preserve them in a way that they can be transferred and replicated later.
  5. Transfer critical KSAs. Choose the best methods for transferring specific types of knowledge, skills and attitudes to others, especially relying on technology that you can reasonably expect will be available and usable in the future.
  6. Evaluate and refresh. Review your current critical KSAs against the backdrop of your long-term strategic plan considering the rapid pace of change. As you identify new critical KSAs, repeat this process to capture, preserve and transfer updated assets with the aid of your internal experts.

No, execution of this plan is not easy. However, your discipline in capturing your internal expertise is the lifeblood of your current and future success.

Each of these steps is more fully explored in the book, Finding Your SMEs.  Workshops and consulting are available to help you integrate this process into your strategic plan.

If you would like a copy of the 6 Steps of CPI Knowledge Management diagram, write to me at workingwithsmes@gmail.com and I will email a copy to you.

Please comment below and share your knowledge management challenges as we are always learning together.

 

 

From the Mailbag: Working with Generation Z or Post 9-11 Babies Go to Work

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In this space, we usually focus on the knowledge capture part of your knowledge management plan, specifically working with your soon-to-be-retirees so their expertise isn’t lost to some golf course in Tampa. The flip side of knowledge capture is transferring that information to generations two or three removed. That brings us to the realization that babies born after the year 2000 are entering the workforce this year.

And yes, they are different.

One of our faithful Working with SMEs tribe, Hal Alpiar from bucolic Cookeville, Tennessee, sent us an article entitled “What You Need to Know About Generation Z” with seven helpful tips for maximizing your Gen Z workforce. The article is from AMAC Small Business Solutions dated July 11, 2017, and Hal popped it in snail mail along with one of his cute refrigerator magnets “Are You Breathing?”. Hal is a marketing and training guru who occasionally pitches in around here with advice and support, including his business mentoring.

Here is an excerpt from the AMAC article which you can read in its entirety at this link:

“Much as Generation X didn’t get the same attention baby boomers did, [Generational expert David] Stillman believes the current focus on millennials could leave Generation Z feeling ignored and misunderstood…Stillman says the main thing to know about Gen Z is that they’re not like the millennials.

1.       They want frequent feedback. ..Quick check-ins can be plenty for Gen Z workers.

2.       They seek security…They’re willing to start at the bottom and work their way up, as long as they can expect job security in return.

3.       They’re very competitive…Generation Z employees are more likely to prefer working on their own.

4.       They want to personalize their jobs…The more flexibility and customization your company can offer these workers, the better.

5.       They may be entrepreneurs as well as employees…The ease of starting a side business today appeals to Gen Z’s desire for financial security…Try harnessing Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit to create new ideas , products or divisions for your business – and rewarding them for it financially.

6.       They suffer from FOMO. Constantly scanning social media to see what everyone else is doing, Generation Z is suffused with “fear of missing out”…Gen Z may prefer trying out many different jobs or moving laterally to gain new skills…

7.       They’re “phigital”…They expect your business to have the latest technology (just like they do in their personal lives). If you’re at all behind technologically, they’re not likely to want to work for you.”

As you create your knowledge management plan and consider your methods for information and data transfer, look at your youngest workers’ styles and preferences when you shape your knowledge management plan for Gen Z.  After all, they will be fully in charge of your business by the middle of this century.

Thanks to Hal for thinking of us. If you want one of Hal’s “Are You Breathing?” magnets, email him at hal@businessworks.us and tell him you heard about him at the Working with SMEs blog.

We look forward to your comments below.

Do Your Experts Have “Beginner’s Mind”?

203714“None of our men are ‘experts.’ We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.”
Henry Ford

Henry Ford is also the entrepreneur who said if he had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said they wanted a faster horse.

Inventors, engineers, and designers around Ford had the luxury of the support of a boss who believed nothing is impossible. That frontier spirit imbues technology and business now. The world is awash in Fords.

The question is whether the world is also drowning in experts. And the answer is no. A true expert remains cutting edge, and we are accumulating knowledge at such a rapid pace the edge continues to move as you approach it. Your background, education and experience only qualify you for asking good questions in a world where knowledge doubles every two years.

Encouraging Beginner’s Mind

The beginner’s mind sees things as if for the first time. A new approach lives in the novelty. While Ford imagined his customers as the uninvolved and passive consumer, that is not the case today. What’s changed in the last 100 years is that we now encourage our developers and designers to stay close to the buyer and listen carefully to the voice of the customer. The consumer of the 21st century is educated, sophisticated and trained to challenge the status quo.

Your customers experience your products with beginner’s mind, and use them in some contexts you may not have imagined. Employees from sales to delivery to design and engineering are encouraged to stay close to the customer and listen for their responses and recommendations.

If your experts are truly living up to their name, they know less every day. But they are smart enough to know it.

Once again proving that Ford was a man quite a bit ahead of his time.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: One of our Working with SMEs tribe writes to me to relay the following: “The quote that leads your most recent SME mail. . .(t)hat is usually attributed to Roshi Suzuki, the guy who bought Zen to the US, with his book, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” And “Beginner’s Mind” is a Zen concept.” Thanks, Joe! Nice to hear from you!