Corporate Amnesia - Don't forget to remember!

17th Apr 2018 | Laura Shaw

What I love about this job is that I get to meet lots of interesting people from a variety of industries, especially now that Training-Progress is reaching beyond the veterinary sector.

The other day I was chatting with a lovely man from an organisation which certifies health and safety training. My two take-home messages from the conversation were –

1) Don’t tell anyone you are into health and safety or the invitations to parties will soon dry up!

2) And the concept of Corporate Amnesia.


Corporate amnesia, according to the is –


‘Loss of corporate memory: skills that were not transferred and valuable knowledge which was not (or could not be) documented, due to excessive downsizing, frequent layoffs, or unmanaged employee attrition.’


Why does corporate amnesia occur? In an organisation which is built on the skills and knowledge of individuals, the loss of a team member will potentially take their ‘slice’ of the knowledge with them. This means that subsequent employees have to learn the skills afresh. This brings with it inconsistencies of service and a waste of time and resources as new employees ‘make the same mistakes’ as they learn, rather than picking up the good habits and processes which were already in use.


In health and safety terms, the corporate amnesia can be the cause of a repetition of a serious incident. When an incident has occurred, an organisation may put safety measures in place to prevent its recurrence. These work and so the accident is not repeated. Then, a decade on, there will have been a turnover of employees. The company may look to make efficiency savings, the process is costing them money and no one can remember why it was in place. So the safety measure is removed and the incident recurs.


Prevention of corporate amnesia is one of the great benefits of Training-Progress. The integrated document management system becomes the knowledge hub of the business. New employees learn the agreed processes of the business so that the whole team can work consistently and not repeat mistakes. Training-Progress has the added benefit of archiving all your documents which means you can show the development of your processes. Great for ISO9001, Investors in People and other quality assurance schemes.


One of our top tips for writing a protocol or process is to make sure you state the importance or relevance of the process. In the health and safety example above, it would be appropriate to state – This process is in place to prevent the recurrence of [the incident]. Brief details of the incident could be included if appropriate to keep the memory, and thus the relevance, of the safety measures alive.


So, I issue two challenges to you.

1) Look at what are you doing within your organisation, to ensure corporate amnesia does not occur? Could Training-Progress help you to avoid making the same mistakes twice?

2) Next time you have a party, invite a health and safety expert.

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