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8 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2023 e ongoing retirement of many of our col- leagues has cast a spotlight on this month's topic: tribal knowledge. As designers and engi- neers with 30 or 40 years of experience start pricing condos in Boca Raton, the entire indus- try is wondering: How will we hand down the knowledge acquired by these "silverbacks" to the next generation of designers? How do we know we're not handing down tribal knowl- edge to the new crop of designers? If we're going to discuss tribal knowledge, perhaps a definition is in order. iSixSigma has spent a lot of time studying tribal knowledge, and the company defines the term this way: Tribal knowledge is any information pertain- ing to a product or service process that resides only in the minds of the employees. e informa- tion may reside with one or many employees, and it may vary between employees, but it is undocu- mented in nature. "Undocumented" means the method may or may not be the most efficient way of perform- ing the work. It may not even be an effective or correct way to perform the work. It also means multiple employees are likely to perform the work in different ways, based on their own version of tribal knowledge. I'll buy that; once it's documented, it ceases to be tribal knowledge. I especially like the part about employees all performing tasks in differ- ent ways based on their own tribal knowledge. e term "tribal" conjures up images of island dwellers passing down myths and legends over millennia. Let's face it: Designers are basically a tribe, like the headhunters of Borneo. Your numbers are dwindling, you speak your own The Shaughnessy Report by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 Tribal Knowledge: Friend or Foe?

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