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Irene
Rene

The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Why Do Great KM Programs Fail?

Interessant en goed opgebouwd artikel over Knowledge Management en waarom management vaak toch de stekker trekt uit goed draaiende initiatieven op dit gebied. De schrijver maakt hierin ook duidelijk onderscheid tussen traditioneel en, zoals hij het noemt, radical management. Bij traditioneel management zijn nieuwe initiatieven vaak gedoemd te mislukken, omdat ze niet passen in het beeld van wat de organisatie is en hoe de organisatie werkt. Zeker het lezen waard is de alinea "What are the values and attitudes that kill knowledge management."Vervolgens gaat hij in op "What does this all mean for KM?". 

*So what’s a knowledge manager in an established organization to do? How do you protect your program against inevitable death threat posed by traditional management? The first step is to make sure that your ship is seaworthy. Check to make sure that your KM program is well managed, with clear goals, vibrant communities of practice, effective use of IT and social media (though without excessive reliance on IT), and valid metrics of the KM program’s contributions. Without those elements in place, your KM program will be a sitting target for a cost-cutting traditional manager. The second step is to make sure that your KM program is focused on supporting innovation and learning, and drawing on flows of new knowledge, including knowledge from outside the firm, not merely re-circulating the internal dogmas of yesterday.  In this way, your KM program can be a genuine contributor to the firm’s real future. The third step is to check: what are the overall goals of your organization?*

In de reacties staat ook kort nog een goede opmerking: Knowledge is a social construct, not a material one, and until businesses treat it as a social product, KM will fail.

Reacties

1 reactie – 18 juli 2010

Rene
If your firm is built around traditional management--producing goods and services, and making money for the shareholders, through “scalable efficiency”, then your KM program is at risk, no matter how well run it may be, and how matter how much you can demonstrate what it is contributing to the firm today.
Succesfull KM programs are being killed because KM is incompatible with the underlying philosophy of traditional management, which no longer fits the world of today:
  • "The first assumption is that the standard practices of traditional management—hierarchy, command-and-control, tightly planned work, competition through economies of scale and cost reduction, impersonal communications—are a success." "There is an inability to admit that these managerial practices arose as a response to a specific set of social and economic conditions. Now that those conditions have changed, the validity of the principles is a serious issue."
  • "Unwillingness to take seriously any evidence to the contrary." "“They are living a delusion, t’s all the more powerful as it’s a collective delusion, as reflected by the capital markets.". Maar dat was VOOR de kredietcrisis (!)
  • "The third assumption of traditional management is that the marketplace can be predicted and controlled and manipulated. Fifty years ago, this was a reasonable assumption." "But it is a very poor fit with the world of 2010, where global competition and the shift of power from sellers to buyers have transformed the situation." 
  • "The fourth plank of traditional management is to view employees as “human resources” i.e. things that can be controlled and manipulated and exploited." Once the challenge became one of having interactions with customers and creating a steady flow of innovations and new value to customers so that they would be delighted, the firm depended on its employees to generate those innovations and interactions. Smart firms discovered that the energy and enthusiasm and insights of its employees—now often highly educated—couldn’t be bought or directed or commanded and controlled. Instead, employees had to be inspired to contribute—a radically different and more difficult challenge. Again it was a shift from a simple linear manipulation to a complex interaction."
  • "The fifth plank of traditional management is to view the firm as an entity exploiting a static stock of knowledge, through “scalable efficiency”. "Today what is needed is “scalable innovation”, which depends on innovation and flows of new knowledge—the life-blood of real knowledge management."
  • "The sixth plank is economies of scale. Becoming bigger enables the firm to achieve economies of scale. But in the process, traditional management encounters the experience curve and the phenomenon of declining returns."
It is only a matter of time before managers get the chance to bring the firm back into line with the assumptions of traditional management and gut the KM program.
What makes it difficult to change traditional management is the interlocking and self-reinforcing nature of these assumptions, attitudes and values. Once the goal of the firm is established as producing goods and services or making money for the shareholders in a predictable economic environment, scalable bureaucracy and the efficient management of existing knowledge stocks are seen as appropriate responses. The firm develops proprietary knowledge. It aggressively protects that knowledge to make sure no one else gets access to it, and it extracts the value from that knowledge as efficiently as possible and for as long as it can. The rationale of the firm is to minimize transaction costs in deploying these stocks of knowledge efficiently. That way of thinking and acting created huge and seemingly successful companies in the 20th Century. But it is a failing proposition in the world today.
Because of this, "the life expectancy of Fortune 500 companies has fallen from around 50 years half a century ago to less than 15 years. If trends continue, Deloitte’s Center for the Edge predicts that it will fall to 5 years."
What’s exciting is that some firms are proceeding in a radically different way of organizing and managing. They are proceeding on a different of interlocking assumptions, which begin from the goal of delighting clients and providing a steady stream of new value to customers. Once this becomes the goal of the entire firm (not just the goal of the marketing or the R&D department), then bureaucracy and command-and-control cease to be a viable organizational option.
Instead the firm will naturally gravitate toward some variation of self-organizing teams as the default model for organizing work. That’s because it is only through mobilizing the full energy and ingenuity of the workforce that the firm is likely to have any chance of success at generating the continuous innovation needed to delight clients.
Radical transparency between managers and workers becomes a necessary principle for achieving the goal. Happily, when firms get into this mode, the risk of needing to downsize or outsource its core business is reduced: continuous self-improvement is a normal and natural way in which self-organizing teams evolve toward high-performance. Systematically accessing new knowledge flows--aka knowledge management--becomes central to the firm's future.
How to think about Knowledge Maangement? Make sure that your KM program is focused on supporting innovation and learning, and drawing on flows of new knowledge, including knowledge from outside the firm, not merely re-circulating the internal dogmas of yesterday.  In this way, your KM program can be a genuine contributor to the firm’s real future.

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