What Knowledge Workers Really Need

"Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” George Bernard Shaw

You know, there are times when you read a blog posting or online article and find yourself left simply shaking your head. Such is the case with an article that I just ran across (“Trends in Knowledge Work”) referencing a McKinsey & Company 2010 article (“The Productivity Imperative”). And that McKinsey article supposedly stated that, “while demand for knowledge workers is continuing to grow, the supply isn’t.” Really? Seriously? Give me a break.
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Knowledge Management & Organizational Change

Organizational Change...and Resistance...Happens.

Whoa. That was my first thought when I read a blog post this morning. It started with receiving a comment from someone about one of my own posts, which lead me to that person’s blog, which in turn lead me to another blog. And that’s where I got the whoa. I’m not even going to point out which blog it was, just don’t think that it is really that worth it. But it does give me enough of a whoa feeling that I’m moved to post a bit about how organizational change impacts knowledge management (or is it how knowledge management impacts organizational change?). But the whoa statement was: “Resistance to change is a myth. There is no such thing.” And that was followed by “Organizations are not machines. Organizations are systems. And there is no resistance in a system.”

Again. Whoa. The bad news is that the author of that blog post is a management consultant. The good news is that at least the author isn’t involved in knowledge management. But clearly the author has a very limited understanding of systems theory, systems thinking, and organizational change.

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Taming the Wild West: KM and Innovation

Samuel Colt (19th century engraving).

The first settlers coming to the Western United States carried guns that were capable of firing only a single-shot per minute without reloading. This put them at a distinct disadvantage to those who using bow and arrows were capable of firing as many as 5-10 arrows per minute.

In 1836 that changed with the introduction of the Colt Paterson which could fire five shots from a rotating cylinder without reloading. Others had previously experimented with revolvers but Colt’s was the first design that would upon cocking automatically rotate a cylinder with multiple chambers so as to place a round in proper position aligned with a single stationary barrel. And that changed everything.

“How” that happened is all about the role that new knowledge plays in innovation.

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Socialization and the Need to Take Time to Think

The Thinker, sculpture at the Musée Rodin in Paris

On May 2nd, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry was speaking at a KM conference and told the audience that he felt that managers needed to “engage” their people. He offered up an example of failing to engage by describing managers who were walking around or riding elevators while using their smart phones instead of talking with their employees. He described that as a missed opportunity to show employees that they cared and that they actually wanted employees to speak up and share their views.

While saying that I agree completely with what John Berry said and agree that this is certainly one of those cultural issues that impact organizations all the time, I’d like to take his thought a step or two further. Sort of run with it to discuss what I think is an additional issue altogether. I’m talking about the need to take time to think.

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