With the pending retirement of the Baby boom generation, we are about to lose a lot of hard won experience. Many of the Boomers are retiring early. They have the money they need. Why stay in the daily grind if you don't need to? But let's not write them off too quickly. We need to find ways to use their knowledge to help the next generation.
Let me give you an example. Recently, I was in a meeting with some bright young web developers. They were struggling with a client's requirements. Their problem was that a limitation in their web tools was forcing them to do a lot of customization for the client, customization that the client didn't want to pay for. Of course, the original deadline for the project had passed. There was a lot of tension in the room. The team lead wanted to scrap the work already done and go with a new tool. Recognizing that they shared some responsibility for the project, he was recommending that the costs of going back to square one be shared equally with the client. It was turning into a lose/lose situation.
Someone with years of development experience would recognize that this situation was actually normal. The software tool looks like a good fit during the initial phases of the project, but when you find out more about the client's needs and how the software works, inevitably you find some requirements that don't fit. Faced with this dilemma, a normal human reaction is to look to the newest software thinking that it will fix the problem. The risk is that the new system will have other areas where it won't meet the client requirements.
A seasoned project manager might make these recommendations:
- Talk to the current web tools developer - is this a known issue? Are they already working on it? Are there known work arounds?
- Talk to the client - is this issue major or minor for them? Are they willing to defer this requirement? Can they change their processes to do this work another way?
You will notice that the project manager does not have to be a whiz with this software in order to make these recommendations. All (s)he needs is experience.
Let's not let the experience of a whole generation go to waste. If you know a seasoned executive who is retiring, do your best to connect them with someone young. Too many of us go through our careers without a mentor and that's a shame.