Simply retaining knowledge within an organization is not enough to ensure its survival unless talented employees are ready to leverage that knowledge. Changing demographics within the petroleum industry raises many concerns for the coming decade including the identification, development and retention of an organization's future leaders.

An existing, advanced knowledge management (KM) community gives an organization's upper management a unique view into key employees' ability and willingness to solve technical problems, communicate, innovate, influence peers and lead group consensus. Disciplined review of collaborative efforts captures peer recognition and provides a more impartial means of generating a list of talented personnel who exhibit leadership qualities and technical ability. This informal list can be used to complement formal succession planning, generating a wider base of candidates and enhancing the selection process.

Examples demonstrate how this application of KM identifies ‘natural thought leaders’, evaluates candidates for key positions, and develops succession plans for future leaders who will drive the direction of the organization.

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