smashed photo Photo by InnocentEyez [CC]

When an organisation restructures its operations, it runs the risk of losing two core invisible assets - tacit corporate knowledge and established goodwill.

These assets are invisible because they can be hard to quantify financially, and because the effects of their loss in the short term can be conveniently hidden within the larger chaos of the restructuring.

Tacit knowledge

Contextual, on-the-job-experienced, knowledge that is not captured explicitly in manuals and processes. This includes knowing how to complete tasks more effectively, work around systems (without breaking the rules), and who to go for help.

Corporations spend so much time trying to capture knowledge and retain talent. Yet when it comes to restructuring, many seem strangely willing to let these simply flow out the door.

The chaos of restructuring is then magnified by the loss of this tacit knowledge.

Established goodwill

Genuine goodwill takes years to establish and is sensitive to environmental factors. A supportive, calm workplace nurtures goodwill. A chaotic or psychologically unsafe workplace decimates it.
Goodwill is taken into account when businesses are valued for sale. And yet goodwill seems completely unvalued during organisational restructuring.

What is especially disheartening is knowing that the primary reason organisations continue to function throughout restructures is because they ride on the goodwill of the remaining employees. And taking this for granted.This is of course unsustainable.

We can only speculate on why these assets are allowed to be lost. It could be incompetent leadership, poor organisational design, or simply a lack of care.

Unfortunately the loss of these assets can have long-term consequences detrimental to the wellbeing of an organisation. Sadly by that time, the architects of the restructuring would have long moved to other organisations.