I see stories of an impending business brain drain as the Boomers retire. But what will really be lost? There probably isn't a lot of technical information that will be lost as Boomers retire because much of the hardware and software they know about is being replaced over the next ten years anyway. And systems they built that do continue on have been in production for many years so they'll run just fine for many more years (computer code does not wear out; computer code does not rust).
Since technology changes so fast, it isn't the Boomers' technical skills that are valuable. Instead, what Boomers (may) have that could be valuable is a little of that elusive stuff called wisdom. Wisdom requires experience; it builds up over time; it means being there and doing it. Wisdom requires you to be aware of what's happening, and remember it, and think about it, and make something out of your experience that goes beyond just you and the circumstances of your own life.
Most of us agree that technical skills alone are not enough; unless we use wisdom to apply those skills to best effect, it will all be for naught. Here's where people who have been there and done it and learned from it are well positioned to provide value. Here's why Boomers aren't done yet - not by a long shot; we may move on but we won't retire (can't afford to anyway; who're we kidding?).
Wisdom Could Get a Whole Lot More Accessible
The wisdom of the world has, for the last several hundred years, mainly been kept on paper in the form of text and that's been a limiting factor on the number of people who could participate in and benefit from it. We all know there are different ways people learn and communicate; some people do respond to the written word and love to read and write, lots of other people don't like to read and they aren't crazy about writing and they respond better to music, or to pictures, or to movies, or to the spoken word.
And now (luckily just in time) there is this global network that can communicate wisdom in more ways than just text on paper and it reaches many more people than could ever hear the spoken word. So the role and influence of wisdom could actually expand in a big way. That's a good thing. Because wisdom is probably our only hope for overcoming the most dire of human afflictions - the affliction of making the same mistakes over and over again and missing the same opportunities over and over again.
Let me sketch out a relevant analogy. We emerged as the creatures we are today (scientifically referred to as Homo Sapiens) when our cerebral cortex blossomed and grew over the existing structures of our animal brain. In that expansion of the cerebral cortex we awoke and became aware of ourselves. Our planet (affectionately known as Mother Earth) has spawned this whole unruly lot of us, and now she is using us to grow a network over the top of all of us that encompasses all geographical points on her surface. In the expansion of this global network might there arise some new awareness?
The first iteration of that network is now being provisioned with some extraordinarily useful (yet seemingly frivolous at first) features and applications (vaguely lumped under terms like Web 2.0 and Software-as-a-Service) that are inducing us all to get connected to the network and use it to communicate with each other. Is there any similarity between us all being connected to each other through the world-wide-web and the Internet and the cells of our body all being connected to each other through our brain and our nervous system?
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