Last year, NogginLabs celebrated 20 years of eLearning that doesn’t make learners feel dead inside. How do we do it? Well, there’s the four pillars: instructional design, writing, graphic design, and programming. There’s the office full of smart, funny, and nice people. And honestly? Experience has taught us a lot.
Preserving a Legacy of Learning
But what happens when your employees have been trained? Perhaps you already have some really cool eLearning, and the behavior change you were looking for has not only manifested, but turned into something even better than you’d hoped. Perhaps those people you trained have taken those foundational behaviors and used them to advance your business even further, creating new ideas and processes that you couldn’t have trained them for because, well, they’re the sort of ideas you get from simply doing your job over a long period of time.
Or perhaps those successful trainees have become the sort of people your new employees count on. Every company has them. They’re the go-to people when there’s a problem. They’re the people who can keep their cool, even in the most stressful or unpredictable situations. While they give the impression that nothing surprises them, they truly relish the mysteries the job brings.
So what do you do when that person moves on? What happens to that dependable cool head, their wisdom, or the untrainable ingrained knowledge they gained?
With any luck, some of it has been documented somewhere, or your newer employees figure out their own way to do it. We tend to believe in the importance of preserving the history of ancient cultures, so why don’t we put much value in the legacy of company cultures? Why do we put so little value in preserving the lessons learned from those who came before us?
How to Capture a Brain
Early in 2017, one organization revealed that they were concerned about this problem. They were worried that, as a group of their foundational employees approached retirement, their venerable organization might lose what they’d spent decades trying to build: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech. This group of engineers and scientists had seen the growth of the space program first-hand; but slowly, they began to leave, taking decades of unique knowledge and experience with them. To make sure they didn’t lose any more of that knowledge, JPL turned to NogginLabs.
What started as a meeting about a potential eLearning project turned into something brand new for NogginLabs: We were going to capture and preserve the minds of some of the country’s brightest scientists in a process that would come to be known simply as “knowledge capture.”
“Person after person kept bringing up this major problem of, ‘If only there was a way that we could just capture…the brains and knowledge of the scientists that are leaving,” says NogginLabs founder Brian Knudson of his first meeting with JPL in Pasadena.