When considering knowledge capture from an expert (a retiring person is a sub set of this) you might wish to put the following three steps in place before moving forward
· The expert is made accountable for the knowledge that they possess
· The expert is provided with someone to assist them to record their knowledge
· Internal staff are training in knowledge capture to assist the expert
If you make the expert accountable for their knowledge you should ensure that they understand that they are being made accountable for the content quality as well as its availability. Availability is important as the expert might produce the best quality content in the world but if the people who need to use it can’t access it, then it fails in its objective.
The expert has become ‘expert’ because they are very good at something. It might be something in engineering, marketing, maintenance, HR, legal, procurement, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that they have become very good at that activity but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are very good at capturing what they do and why they do it that way. You may wish to consider providing them with a ‘shadow’ who observes and records what they do and perhaps more importantly for the people who will use this knowledge in future, why they did it that way (the context).
This later point is a great opportunity for you to develop internal capability in your own organisation by training a group of staff in the skills of observation and recording, they become the ‘knowledge capture experts’ who work with experts to capture and record their knowledge for use by others.