Many organizations aspire to becoming a learning, collaborative, knowledge-sharing entity. To make this a reality, organizations must invest in their people and nourish their intellectual roots. Developing a human capital strategy for an organization is people-centric, and as such a learning strategy should be part of this overall human capital strategy. NASA developed an IFM learning strategy that has employee and organization development as its keystone. The NASA Policy Directive 3410 on Employee and Organizational Development states:
To support the full utilization of the NASA workforce in achieving NASA's strategic outcomes, it is NASA policy to make training and development opportunities widely available to employees to enhance individual capabilities; build and retain a skilled and effective workforce; improve organization performance; and maintain scientific, professional, technical, and management proficiency.
Replenishing the intellectual (and emotional) wealth of the employees is an integral part of building a vital human capital knowledge base and developing a learning organization. As employees learn, relearn, and unlearn various methods, practices, techniques, systems, and knowledge, they will undergo various changes in how they internalize and apply their new learning in the organization. Thus, change management becomes ever more important as individual learning is transformed into organizational knowledge.
One way to prevent a perceived threat or loss of competitive edge on the part of the workforce in the process of building a knowledge sharing culture, is by tapping into the organization's retiree community. The U.S. State Department is capturing retirees' knowledge by interviewing ambassadors and other retiring employees with questions related to the specifics of their job and then making this knowledge available online via the State Department's enterprise system. The Air Force is using exit interviews to capture the knowledge of departing personnel in order to train their replacements, according to Bao Nguyen, Chief of the Air Force's information and knowledge management division (http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2002/0107/mgt—culture-01-07-02.asp). NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has also launched a knowledge preservation project to capture key knowledge from retirees and experts in the project management and systems engineering areas. NASA has a Knowledge Sharing Initiative through its Academy for Program and Project Leadership (http://appl.nasa.gov), and has encoded several hundred video nuggets of NASA expert knowledge through its Process-Based Mission Assurance Knowledge Management System (http://pbma.hq.nasa.gov). Retirees can be wonderful contributors to an organization's human capital strategy, especially in the knowledge retention and mentoring areas. Hiring them as part-time retired annuitants, subcontractors, consultants, and through emeritus programs may be formal mechanisms to engage the services of these individuals. Many retirees are pleased to be able to "give back" to their beloved organization, so they may be willing to provide their help and insight for altruistic reasons. They have been overlooked in many human capital strategies, and utilizing their knowledge and expertise could be a real missing link.
In organizational life, change is a variable that is a part of every organization's equation for survival. Companies need to be adaptive and agile in order to handle the changing market forces. In the same manner, government agencies need to be customer-focused, results-oriented, streamlined, and less hierarchical in order to become high-performing organizations. As movement continues in this direction, changes will ultimately take place, and the human capital strategy must reflect how to cope with these changes from a humanistic view. Thus, a change management pillar should be a key foundation of an organization's human capital strategy.