Archive for the 'Organisational development' Category

Inspirational quotes #7: The practice of change

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions”

Antony Jay, Management and Machiavelli

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Why organisations perpetually get it wrong – if only we had the answer

“Why is it, that organisation after organisation first exposes itself to new revolutionary ideas like employee empowerment… visionary leadership, networking… and all the other concepts that academics and consultants have been touting as the way of the future, then launch crash programs to implement them, yet conclude a year or so later that the ideas did not work out?

Why is it that the idea of empowerment, of involving people in the changes that will affect them, an idea which has been around at least since the Hawthorne studies of the 1920’s, has to resurface about every two or three decades under new kinds of labels and still only take hold here and there?

Or, worse, why do many organisations claim to empower their employees, yet their day to day management practices change hardly at all?

Why is it that McGregor’s Theory Y, the assumption that peole are willing and able to make contributions to organisations…is still overriden in most organisations by the cynical assumptions of Theory X that people are basically lazy and have to be motivated and controlled by management?”

From a speech by Edgar Schein delivered in 1995, text courtesy of ‘The Guru Guide’.

Knowledge management: the tipping back point / how big does a KM pilot need to be?

Great post from Nick Milton of Knoco on the ‘Tipping Back’ point, or when KM fails. Timely also as I’ve been pondering for some time how big a KM pilot needs to be.

Nick says it was suggested to him that once 28% of the people have made the change, and 40% see this, then the tipping point has been reached (whereas conversely when 28% of the people refuse to do KM and 40% of people see them getting away with it the implementation starts to fail.) So how do you apply that in practice?

My approach has always been to move KM forward in those areas where there is a clear appetite for change. If that percentage of the organisation is less then 28% then you have to work with faith that others will see the good work being done and want to get on board. Or you engender a little friendly competition between teams or managers. That one’s a killer and certainly has worked for me in the past.

What’s tough is that there are so many ways you cut a really large department these dates, with myriad teams and groups working within it. If you work towards your 28% figure with tiny, niche teams who don’t have good visibility and/or transparency across the wider organisation, or whose work is stand alone and doesn’t have any impact on the deliverables of other teams, then although it will help those teams doing the KM, you potentially risk losing some of the impact that you need to catch the attention of that magic 40% of observers.

What do people think?

Great post Nick!

Knowledge management: hierarchy vs wirearchy

Quit with this talk of the demise of the hierarchy! If I read one more thing about the ‘increasing realisation’ that hierarchy is not the structure that works for organisations and that social networks are the only and/or new way forward I’m going to have some sort of KM haemorrage!!

You will always need both (and have both) in order to run an organisation / for an organisation to run itself.  Both will always be in a state of tension and ‘creative abrasion’ with the other. I mean, imagine Lennon without McCartney. Exactly. You can’t have one without the other but it’s a love/hate relationship.

Both forms are equally important and have to be present. That’s the deliciousness of complexity. Of fragmentation and connectedness. I’m reading Davd Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order right now so forgive me.

Of course I’d say this given my blog is titled Organised Chaos. I fundamentally believe that you can be organised and have chaos at the same time and that they are interdependent. Much as hierarchy and wirearchy are. The challenge for the knowledge manager is to ensure that they complement each other rather than operating at extremes. 

I also firmly  believe that if we found an organisation that was so innovative, agile and forward thinking that it adapted it’s formal organisational structure to reflect its wirearchy / informal networks / whatever you want to call it on an annual or even monthly basis, it probably still would never be fast enough to keep up with the pace of change required for it to be truly cutting edge, competitive and eminent in it’s field.  That’s life.  (Don’t worry, I won’t break into song!)

So come on knowledge management community. Give poor old hierarchy some slack.  It keeps us in jobs – in more ways than one ;o)


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