The HR executive in a large retailer came back from her meeting with upper management feeling victorious. She had presented arguments in support of launching a knowledge-transfer initiative, and the attendees were receptive to her explanation of the costs of losing deep smarts. “Most of the training we do is ‘nice to have,’” she told us. “This knowledge transfer is ‘need to have’ training. Makes it easier to justify the expense. But”—she paused in thought—“I still have a lot of work to do to get everyone on board.” She explained that dictates from on high could be viewed skeptically as one more temporary enthusiasm, one more program that diverted attention from daily operations. Now she had to get the support of ...

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