A friend just mentioned to me that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple (as if you don’t know who he is), had hired top business school professors to work up a project they call Apple University. It seems as if they are producing business case studies that review and dissect major decisions made by the Apple team over the years in an effort to capture and make available internally the business magic that polishes the Apple.
Major business schools utilize the business case study as a foundational teaching tool all over the world. They are charging beaucoup bucks to earn an MBA and could choose any style or format to present their insights. The big guns choose business case studies. This methodology has been proven to provide a decision-making snapshot that can be the starting point for in-depth discussions, examination, and knowledge transfer.
During the course of my consulting work within the hospitality industry, I come into contact with all levels of management, and I continually overhear the same universal laments: the high cost of turnover, difficulties in ramping up individual responsibility, lack of business sense, and various forms of “didn’t make the catch” or “dropped the ball on that one.”
I have yet to come into contact with a hospitality company that is making use of business case studies as a form of knowledge transfer for their line-level management team. I’m not proposing that any program involving business case studies will solve all your ills, but if you download executive insight or front-line operational tactics from your “best of the best,” you will certainly help to smooth over any gaps if they leave.
Additionally, if stored “in the cloud” you could provide a base of exercises for those eager beavers who wish to hone their business skills away from work. What if you could provide an MBA equivalent for your team solely based on your company’s experience in the marketplace and any additional sources you find notable? We’re not talking about trade secrets here, but if the Syracuse outpost solved an F&B, HR, or marketing problem, why not let those at the Santa Fe property have formal access/make a study of it for years to come. A business case study holds clear advantages over relying on the beat of your organizational jungle drum.
Mr. Jobs may have been jolted into pursuing Apple University by his continuing health challenges, but there is no need to wait for a mortality confrontation to properly spur the examination of knowledge transfer within your group or—even to address legacy considerations. “He/she left us with a lot we can use” is not a bad way to go—out.