As a teenager, Mike Pfotenhauer loved to hike, but he hated how uncomfortable he felt carrying the backpacks then on the market. So, at age 16, he created his own, sewing all the pieces together himself.
All companies have subject matter experts who hold knowledge critical to their businesses. As a leader, how can you make sure to not only preserve that know-how for future generations but also multiply its impact?
Across the globe, there is a tsunami of Baby Boomer retirements. This is good news for them and for the younger colleagues who will take their place. But what does this mean in terms of losing business-critical, experience-based knowledge — what we call deep smarts?
While “Big Data,” IBM's Watson and self—driving cars may command the headlines, for the foreseeable future, we will continue to tap the expertise of deeply smart humans to recognize patterns, respond to context, and make final decisions.
Children in the U.S. today interact much less with their physical environment than they used to. Few grow up building fences, designing go-karts or tinkering with their cars anymore; vocational high schools are all but closed. It's no surprise that U.S. manufacturers find it harder to hire workers with tactile smarts.
It sounds like a win-win: Companies hire valued employees back to work as consultants in retirement, giving the business access to critical expertise and giving the worker a nice cash cushion without the demands of the full-time job. But this is a dangerous, short–term solution to scarcity of deep smarts.