You learn plenty of lessons in life if you’re fortunate to stick around long enough.  One of those lessons is that there is often no replacement for the value of experience and the accumulated knowledge that comes along with it.

I was reminded of that today by a line and key plot element description in the Wall Street Journal’s review of the movie Unstoppable… “Unstoppable” is not only a prodigy of kinetic energy, but an eloquently understated tribute to working men and women who do their jobs well… and to older workers with irreplaceable experience…”

Working with real estate owners and managers has allowed me the opportunity to meet many terrific people with tremendous experience and knowledge that just cannot be easily replaced.  I think of people like the chief engineers who know every inch of the buildings they work in like the back of their hands and the tenant coordinators who know each of the tenant office managers and key executives on a personal level.  They are often people who have stayed with the building  though ownership changes and transitions.

In addition to valuing their experience and considering these people as a significant resource, it is critically important that you do everything you can to retain their accumulated experience where possible.  One of the ways to do this is by providing your people with the right technology and tools that not only make their jobs easier to do, but serve as data collection repositories so that you retain that institutional knowledge. The goal is never to replace people, but to make them more effective by letting them leverage their experience by allowing them to focus on higher value activities.

Knowledge retention is often regarded as a “fuzzy” concept. It’s difficult to quantify, but there is a very real and significant cost of having to retrieve, or rather, re-create from scratch the information acquired through years of work and experience that exists in the heads of your people.    This is one of the key and most important benefits of platforms like Building Engines.