a knowledge retention technique: recognising contributions

Knowledge retention is a big issue for many organisations. This blog first published in 2011 talks about how Sparknow planned for and marked the retirement (his second) of its Financial Controller Roger Doughty. I’ve republished it here since it addresses a key challenge namely that of recognition of the contribution made by an outgoing knowledge worker.

Roger was there in 1997 when Spark began. Through 14 years he has guided us through a maze of fiscal legislation, keeping a watchful eye on our finances and helping us become a limited liability partnership. That Sparknow has been able to develop the stellar list of client names bears testimony to the strength of our backroom support nearly all of which has been done on a virtual basis by Roger.

Our challenge is similar to that we’ve seen with clients when experienced people depart.

  • How to pass on the knowledge he’s gained much of which has been tacit.
  • How to ensure the same level of service is provided. And finally
  • How to recognise his contribution in a manner befitting of our style and values.

Tacit knowledge transfer has been/is being covered by a period of parallel running with his successor Mark Barrett who is also a Welshman with an accounting background. Mark has been shadowing Roger for the last couple of months and now that is reversed and Roger is shadowing Mark. I then hold monthly review sessions with the pair of them to see what issues have arisen and fine tune our processes. Our intention is ensure a smooth seamless transition which thus far it has been.

To recognise his contribution we asked a number of associates, friends, collaboration partners and clients to think of an image that best described Roger and then to write a brief anecdote.

The material was assembled; should we print off a set of postcards, produce a virtual card or make a set of recordings? Webster’s Pictorial provided the inspiration and with the help of Curtis James, a Brighton based ‘letter presser/purveyor of collections…’, Roger’s ‘book of memories’ was born.



A very suprised and delighted Roger was presented with his gift at a garden party held in Lewes.


Many struggle to find a way that recognises the contribution of key people in a business so that when they depart their legacy lives on. Roger reading his ‘book of memories’ shows how much pleasure can be gleaned from a simple gesture.