Knowledge Retention

When you’re thinking about surviving in the current economy, you are probably not thinking about retaining the knowledge of key workers, but the two go hand-in-hand. No two people possess the exact same knowledge. If you have two VPs of Sales and you have to let one of them go, how do you capture the knowledge held by that person? If you have to halve your IT department, you don’t want to also halve the knowledge held by that department. How will you capture the knowledge of the departing employees?

Lost knowledge can be expensive to recapture, and it can take years. Tacit knowledge in particular may never be retrieved once it is gone. A VP of sales may know the quirks or specific needs of certain clients; a chemist may know to expect a certain color or viscosity of a compound before it is at the peak of its effectiveness; an engineer just “feels” when a mechanism is assembled properly.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) found in a 2008 survey that while most companies believe knowledge retention is important, only a small percentage of companies have a strategy in place.

Companies use various strategies to help them retain knowledge when employees retire, separate, or are lost due to layoffs or downsizing. Strategies will differ depending on industry, size of organization and a number of other factors. Here are some strategies that have proven effective for various companies:

  1. Social networking tools can cut through the chaos of information on the      internet and improve the way workers share knowledge. One 2008 survey      found that 40% of large companies (those with 10,000 or more employees)      used social networking to tap the knowledge of their workers. Smaller      companies may be slower to adopt this practice. Social networking can      reach people beyond the score of a company newsletter or a mass email and      it allows workers to share information in real time. And its scope reaches      beyond the company, so workers can network with peers anywhere in the      world.
  2. Intranet. An intranet, such as a wiki or blogs, is used by      workers within a company to share knowledge and information. This is      especially effective in companies with facilities in diverse locations.      Workers performing the same function thousands of miles apart are given      the capacity to share valuable information and best practices.
  3. Phased retirement strategies are becoming more prevalent as companies      attempt to capture the talent of workers before they retire. There are      many ways to structure a phased retirement program to meet the needs of      the individual company and its employees. The employee may work part time,      on a seasonal basis or on special projects that arise. The retiree may be      called upon to train new hires or to be available to mentor younger      workers. Some companies are even looking at ways to rehire their retired      employees. Phased retirement is beneficial to the employer, who is able to      retain critical talent, and at the same time help employees meet their      retirement expenses, while perhaps easing the worker into a new phase of      life. In the first quarter of 2008, American Express launched a pilot      phased retirement program. Participants gradually give up their day-to-day      responsibilities while they spend their time mentoring and teaching master      classes to their successors, while receiving a reduced salary and full      benefits. This program is being tested in the company’s technology and      finance units.
  4. Learning communities can be virtual or face-to-face, and they allow workers      who perform the same tasks to “meet” and share experiences and      best practices, or questions about processes and procedures. This is also      called a community of practice. Communities may      “meet” on a regular basis, or they may get together      spontaneously as the need arises. The group should have as leader or      facilitator a more experienced employee. These communities are      particularly useful when similar tasks are performed at diverse locations.     
  5. Develop an online data base. Employees will be able to      access it to use for reference. They can add to the data base as an active      participant in the company’s knowledge retention efforts and interact with      peers.
  6. Knowledge maps consist of business process diagrams in which each      step of a process is linked to specific knowledge and training. This      strategy is being used by a municipal power company in California, as its      workforce ages and there is great need to capture and share knowledge.      This strategy captures role names, technologies, and learning reference      materials.
  7. Coaching and mentoring is now widely accepted by      organizations worldwide. Coaching and mentoring are no longer seen as      beneficial only for high performing future leaders, but as baby boomers      inch toward retirement, they have been working one-on-one with younger      workers to impart tacit knowledge. And 77% of respondents to a 2008 DBM      study indicated a high return on investment as a result of coaching and      mentoring, making this strategy even more attractive.

After researching the topic of knowledge retention I have learned several useful tips for knowledge retention. The tips listed above were used by companies to improve knowledge retention in their businesses. But if these tips worked for them, couldn’t they work for school systems?  I believe that you could apply each of these tips to school systems. High school students tend to excessively use social networks, so school systems could take advantage of that to utilize the growth of knowledge. Many other tips on this list have already been implemented in some minor way, like coaching and mentoring as tutoring by other students.  Also teachers have begun to utilize blogs and wikis to optimize learning efficiency.

Some useless things to know for the fact of knowing.

blog 8

The most common last name in the world is Patel.

The most common first name in the world is Mohammed.

No word in the English language rhymes with the words month, orange, purple, or silver.

Our skin weighs twice as much as our brain.

If you are being chased by an alligator or crocodile, run in a straight path rather than zig-zag. They can’t see straight.

If an octopus gets hungry enough, it’ll eat its own arms, besides, it has eight, it can spare one or two.

When you sneeze, the air that comes out of your nose goes faster than that of a hurricane.

It is impossible to keep your eyes open when you sneeze.

Okay technically you can keep your eyes open, but they fall out because of the speed of the air rushing through your nasal passages, which are behind your eyes.

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

A person cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva. For example, if strong-tasting substance like salt is placed on a dry tongue, the taste buds will not be able to taste it. As soon as a drop of saliva is added and the salt is dissolved, however, a definite taste sensation results. This is true for all foods. Try it!

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks otherwise it will digest itself

The ant can lift 50 times its own weight, can pull 30 times its own weight and always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

A cockroach will live nine days without its head, before it starves to death.

Elephants are the only mammals that can’t jump.

A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.

The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.

The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.

Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating

A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue!

Ten percent of the Russian government’s income comes from the sale of vodka.

The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” uses every letter in the alphabet. (Developed by Western Union to Test telex/two communications)

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is “uncopyrightable”.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.

“I am” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades – King David; Clubs – Alexander the Great; Hearts – Charlemagne; and Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

Pearls melt in vinegar.

If you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will keep floating to the top and sinking to the bottom.

It was discovered on a space mission that a frog can throw up. The frog throws up its stomach first, so the stomach is dangling out of its mouth. Then the frog uses its forearms to dig out all of the stomach’s contents and then swallows the stomach back down again.

The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

More people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes.

The 3 most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.

Einstein couldn’t speak fluently when he was nine. His parents thought he might be retarded.

Sherlock Holmes never said “Elementary, my dear Watson”.

A ‘jiffy’ is an actual unit of time: 1/100th of a second.

Every day more money is printed for monopoly than the US Treasury.

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down – hence the expression “to get fired.”

The term “whole 9 yards” came from WWII fighter pilots in the South Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got the “whole 9 yards.”

The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

A Saudi Arabian woman can get a divorce if her husband doesn’t give her coffee.

I have to admit, I honestly did not know any of these random facts, and I can honestly say I don’t think they would serve any use to me.  But I did enjoy my time finding these facts as I found several of them to be rather humorous.  I hope after reading my blog you will be full of fun facts for the classes to come.


How can we measure whether a person knows something?

According to Darwin P. Hunt, “To measure something means to assign a number to a characteristic (knowledge) of an object (a person) or event according to a set of rules”.

It should be noted that the meaning of the number is defined by the set of rules assigned.

“The currently used multiple-choice test or any other epistemetric method (measurement of the phenomenon of knowledge) may be considered as a “set of rules” by which the numbers (scores) or measurements are produced – and thus, knowledge may be operationally defined” (Hunt).

In general, tests created today for measuring a person’s knowledge on a particular topic/ subject are “aimed at composing test items that represent the topic; and are fair and unbiased” (Hunt).

To determine whether a person possesses knowledge on simple addition, we can ask questions that are representative of the topic, such as ªWhat is the sum of 12 + 13? ; Or we might pose the question as a response selection or multiple-choice task:

12 +13 = (a) 7

(b) 14

(c) 24

(d) 25

“Current testing practice is to observe which alternative a person selects and infer that he/she knows (if a correct answer is selected) or does not know (if the correct answer is not selected) how to add two digit numbers.

However, a test taker can select the correct answer without knowing how to add, e.g. in the above example, the chance of being correct by guessing alone is 1/4 = 25 percent. The reliance exclusively on the correctness of the answer implies that the person who provides a correct but unsure answer or who made a lucky guess possesses knowledge equivalent to a person who is correct and extremely sure of it”.

I completely agree with Hunt when he discusses how multiple choice questions can measure knowledge. Basically, there is no foolproof and fair way to give a multiple choice test. Students who may know nothing about the material can still receive the same grade as a student who knows all of the material thoroughly, by chance of course. If you strictly follow the guidelines of multiple choice questions, you would have to infer that the student, who guessed on every question and got a one hundred, knows the material as well as the student who thoroughly knows the material and also received a one hundred.

“Similarly, in today’s multiple-choice tests if an incorrect answer is selected, then it is interpreted simply to mean that the person does not know the answer, i.e. is uninformed. This inference is misleading. Specifically, the person may be extremely sure that the incorrect answer which he/she selected is correct and, thus, may be misinformed– which is much worse than being uninformed. A sure-but-wrong belief, used confidently as a basis for making decisions and

 Taking actions, may lead to surprising errors in performance – sometimes with tragic results”.

To further elaborate on my previous comment, I also strongly agree with Hunt on his opinion about the misleading natures of multiple choice tests. If a student gets a multiple choice question wrong, the teacher/test giver would then have to assume that the student does know that portion of the material. But how does a multiple choice test compensate for a student who believes that his answer is correct (possibly by misreading or received invalid information), but is actually incorrect?

The IQ Test

Intelligence Interval Cognitive Designation
40 – 54 Severely challenged   (Less than 1% of test takers)
55 – 69 Challenged (2.3% of   test takers)
70 – 84 Below average
85 – 114 Average (68% of test   takers)
115 – 129 Above average
130 – 144 Gifted (2.3% of test   takers)
145 – 159 Genius (Less than 1%   of test takers)
160 – 175 Extraordinary genius

An intelligence quotient, or IQ, is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess intelligence. IQ scores have been shown to be associated with such factors as morbidity and mortality, parental social status, and, to a substantial degree, biological parental IQ.

IQ scores are used as predictors of educational achievement, special needs, job performance and income. They are also used to study IQ distributions in populations and the correlations between IQ and other variables.

“Intelligence test scores typically follow what is known as a normal distribution, a bell-shaped curve in which the majority of scores lie near or around the average score”(

Predicted Occupation based on IQ Scores

140         Top civil servants; professors and research scientists

130         physicians and surgeons; lawyers; engineers

120        school teachers; pharmacists; accountants; nurses; stenographers; managers

110         foremen; clerks; telephone operators; salesman; policemen; electricians

100+      machine operators; shopkeepers; butchers; welders; sheet metal workers

100-       Warehousemen; carpenters; cooks and bakers, small farmers; truck and van drivers

90           laborers; gardeners; upholsterers; farmhands; miners; factory packers and sorter

After conducting research on IQ tests and what they measure, I have mixed feelings. I feel like IQ test can measure intelligence, but only to a certain extent. I believe that intelligence cannot be measure by one test. The IQ test does not take into account that individuals other forms of knowledge. The test taker may have received a low score, but is at the top of their class. The test taker may just be a weak test taker. Also the reverse can happen. A student at the bottom of the class may guess on every answer and get a higher score than the first test taker. Also another issue that may occur is the IQ test results. The test draws a line between average (114) and above average (115). By those standards, the test implies that someone only scoring one point higher than another has such a higher intelligence.  Also, I believe that the predictions of occupation and IQ scores are somewhat helpful. The chart says that generally people with higher IQ’s have more “sophisticated” or “elevated” occupations. The problem with this is that IQ does not put a restriction on the occupation.

Find out your IQ!

Works Cited

Human Knowledge No More?

A new idea has emerged that may lead to the downfall of human intelligence. A controversial hypothesis by a leading geneticist suggest that the capacity of the human brain to continue to learn is under attack from an array of genetic mutations that have been accumulating since people began to live in cities a few thousand years ago. It has been suggested that rather than becoming more intelligent, human intelligence peaked thousands of years ago and there has been a slow decline in intellectual and emotional abilities.

Professor Crabtree’s argument is based on the fact that “more than 99 per cent of human evolutionary history, we have lived as hunter-gatherer communities surviving on our wits, leading to big-brained humans. Since the invention of agriculture and cities, however, natural selection on our intellect has effective stopped and mutations have accumulated in the critical “intelligence” genes”(Crabtree).

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues,” Professor Crabtree says in a provocative paper published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

I agree with professor Crabtree and his fellow geneticists. Today we live in a time where artificial intelligence dominates our lifestyles. We don’t have to rely on human knowledge like our ancestors were required to do. If something is lost or forgotten, you can simply Google the answer. Our modern day lives are less intellectually demanding than those who lived thousands of years ago. That gives rise to the idea that human knowledge is going down the drain, it is only time before it runs out.


Hunter-gatherer man

The human brain and its immense capacity for knowledge evolved during this long period of prehistory when we battled against the elements

Athenian man

The invention of agriculture less than 10,000 years ago and the subsequent rise of cities such as Athens relaxed the intensive natural selection of our “intelligence genes”.

Couch-potato man

As genetic mutations increase over future generations, are we doomed to watching  soap-opera repeats without knowing how to use the TV remote control?

iPad man

The fruits of science and technology enabled humans to rise above the constraints of nature and cushioned our fragile intellect from genetic mutations.


“Thirst for Knowledge”

by Gina Rush

Knowledge is a gift of time,

To hoard it an atrocious crime,

For with the transfer of your skill,

Another’s thirst you will fulfill.

Deep-seated our desire to learn,

A raging fire inside does burn,

To quench an unrelenting drive,

Of human fallacy to survive.

The Aroma of Knowledge


Convolutions of fragrant petals,

Obscuring miasma that settles

Bestowed within a corsage of morality

Juxtaposed with honor and vitality

Knowledge is a potpourri of blooms

Propinquity of mismatched perfumes

An affinity that reiterates validity

And reaffirms the aroma of stability

Integrity is the essence of cognition

The scented buds of kinship and ambition

A bouquet of integrated learning

Giving rise to wisdom and discerning

I believe that both poems look at knowledge in an extremely interesting way. The first poem makes knowledge a necessity to life. It is a “thirst” that must be quenched. Without knowledge, humanity cannot prevail. Knowledge is now a basic need to human survival. The second poem looks at knowledge in a lighter, more fragile tone. Knowledge is elegant and beautiful. Knowledge is delicate and must be handled carefully, knowledge gives way to wisdom.


The definition of knowledge is a matter of ongoing debate among philosophers in the field of epistemology. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent to any given subject or entity can be acquired. The classical definition, described but not ultimately endorsed by Plato specifies that a statement must meet three criteria in order to be considered knowledge: it must be justified, true, and believed.

(‘S’ stands for the subject who has knowledge and ‘p’ for the proposition that is known)

“According to TK, knowledge that p is, at least approximately, justified true belief (JTB). False propositions cannot be known. Therefore, knowledge requires truth. A proposition S doesn’t even believe can’t be a proposition that S knows. Therefore, knowledge requires belief. Finally, S‘s being correct in believing that p might merely be a matter of luck. Therefore, knowledge requires a third element, traditionally identified as justification. Thus we arrive at a tripartite analysis of knowledge as JTB: S knows that p if and only if p is true and S is justified in believing that p. According to this analysis, the three conditions — truth, belief, and justification — are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for knowledge”.


According to the theory that knowledge is justified true belief, in order to know that a given proposition is true, one must not only believe the relevant true proposition, but one must also have a good reason for doing so. One implication of this would be that no one would gain knowledge just by believing something that happened to be true. For example, an ill person with no medical training, but with a generally optimistic attitude, might believe that he will recover from his illness quickly. Nevertheless, even if this belief turned out to be true, the patient would not have known that he would get well since his belief lacked justification.


Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. Knowledge can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge can be implicit or explicit and can be more or less formal or systematic. I agree with this definition. In order to say that one is knowledgeable  in a subject one must be familiar with the content and be able to include facts and crucial information about their subject.









I think that comprehension and proficiency are the most important synonyms of knowledge. Comprehension is defined as the capacity of the mind to perceive and understand. Proficiency is defined as skillfulness in the command of fundamentals deriving from practice and familiarity. Both of these words are very descriptive and strong synonyms of knowledge. They are very similar in meaning but these synonyms are very powerful alternatives.












Know – have knowledge
no – opposite of yes

“The desire for knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it” —Laurence Sterne


The Etymology of Knowledge

Early 12c., cnawlece “acknowledgment of a superior, honor, worship;” for first element see know. Second element obscure, perhaps from Scandinavian and cognate with the -lock “action, process,” found in wedlock. Meaning “capacity for knowing, understanding; familiarity; fact of knowing” is late 14c. Sense of “an organized body of facts or teachings” is from c.1400, as is that of “sexual intercourse.” Also a verb in Middle English, knoulechen “acknowledge” (c.1200), later “find out about; recognize,” and “to have sexual intercourse with” (c.1300).

“The existence of this latent knowledge is further proved by the interrogation of one of Meno’s slaves, who, in the skilful hands of Socrates, is made to acknowledge some elementary relations of geometrical figures”. Meno by Plato

“However we may increase our knowledge of the conditions of space in which man is situated, that knowledge can never be complete, for the number of those conditions is as infinite as the infinity of space”. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

“It has been asserted that a power of internal taxation in the national legislature could never be exercised with advantage, as well from the want of a sufficient knowledge of local circumstances, as from an interference between the revenue laws of the Union and of the particular States”. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Common uses:

The first term of the course is largely devoted to ensuring that all students possess adequate background knowledge of computing techniques and programming practice.

We give our clients the ability to update their own web sites without needing any technical knowledge.