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Shelf life: The Latest Troublemaker

Shelf life: the period for which a thing is said to be useful. The term is mostly used for edible stuff and medicine, but often as is the case with English terms, it is used for other things also. It is used to describe the career span of sports persons say about 15 years and movie stars which ends when they reach say 50yrs for males and about 45 for females. Ok agreed Amitabh Bachan at 60 plus is still ruling the industry and Rekha seems to look more ravishing with every passing day. But weren’t exceptions to the rules supposed to lend creditability to the rule. So guess these people just prove that every thing has a shelf life.
No we are not here to discuss how long Amitabh will rule or how many guys will drool over Rekha. We are here to discuss the latest word that has become a victim of this term.


The word is KNOWLEDGE yes it might be a little bit difficult to digest, but the time has come when we’ll HAVE to digest it with a pinch of salt. Certain knowledge like your mother loves you will hold true fore ever, but the knowledge that your girl loves has a far shorter shelf life ( sorry for all those who learnt this through experience). On a more practical note say you know that it is raining out side this knowledge has a shelf life only as long as it is raining. The moment it stops raining the knowledge becomes useless. These are of course examples which have a lighter side to it. The fact however stays unchanged that now a day’s knowledge comes with a “Best before tag”.

In today’s bubbling, churning, boiling torrent of change, some say that all knowledge has a short shelf life that all knowledge is out date and out of power.

Lets us now see how the industry is being affected by this new type of knowledge.

Take away 10 years and the IT sector was fighting for people who were well versed with COBOL and PASCAL, now returning to the present there is hardly any takers for people with knowledge in these fields. And no this problem is not confined to the technical field even people in HR and finance can be a victim. For example people with knowledge of SAP and Tally are being preferred over people who just have field knowledge.
Your latest innovation that made you the market leader may become useless for you in the matter of months.

The scenario is the same in any field. Let’s take the law for instance, with every amendment the knowledge about the previous law becomes redundant in other words the old law out lives its shelf life. There was a time when every one thought the world was flat then some enlightened soul opened our eyes and informed us on the contrary it was round which was further refined and said that it was actually a sphere. The scientific world went crazy when they thought they had finally found the smallest building blocks of matter the molecule. But this molecule character soon lost the lime light to some one called the atom, later on the same lime light was shared amongst three young fellows called electron, proton and neutron.

Now getting back on the industry front, the scene is just as cloudy there. It is clear that knowledge now has a new category, and this type come with a “best before date” or to be more accurate “useless after date” you may argue that both mean the same thing but if we really get down to the rock bottom then you’ll agree to that there is a fundamental difference in those statements.

We now have ourselves a problem statement: “Knowledge is becoming outdated and with it the people whose bread and butter depends on that”. In the earlier days the grand parents had to know how RAM defeated RAVAN with the help of HUNUMAN to be the favorite of their grandchildren. Not today they would have to know operate a bay-blade to gain the approval of their grand children.

No; the problem is not as casual as the example. People have much to lose than their loved one’s affection. People are loosing their jobs and along with it there minds and lives. Yes that’s how serious the problem is. With the rate the world is advancing in every conceivable field this problem can turn into a real trouble maker. The problem has a very realistic solution. Keep yourself updated. It is not as easy as it sound, neither nor is it as difficult as it looks. All it requires is the correct temperament yes that’s what it requires. One cannot afford to get frustrated with the rate the things are changing around them.

The same thing applies to the people in the industry. You have to make sure that your employee is constantly updated in the required fields. The employee will of course have to do their share of the work. They have to adapt the new process of learning “learn –unlearn- relearn”. That is the only way that’ll ensure that one stays up to date.

The industry people can not afford to replace every outdated employee. The recruitment costs will be way overboard, and any way the solution is impractical. After all if your flash drive is full and you cannot add any more data, you don’t through the flash drive and buy a new one, do you? What we do is delete the expired and redundant information and then store the new data. Well the same formula is to be adapted by the companies, the have to keep updating their employees with the latest changes. Let’s face it this trouble maker “knowledge with shelf life” is all set to engulf everything and every one on its way. The choice is ours whether we drown in this wave or we learn how to swim. Our advice…….. Learn make that LEARN how to swim and while you are at it add all the different strokes to your armor, you never know what new challenges tomorrow brings.

Contributing Writer:  Sajiri Chidgupkar & Monimoy Sengupta HR Professionals

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