Friday, October 19, 2007

And the winner is…

IMHO it’s Organization A. And the reason I think so is due to the “knowing-doing gap.” That concept tells us that just because you know something—a strategy, a process, a course of action—doesn’t mean that you actually do it. Similarly, just because you do it without a full appreciation of the strategic implications doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. So in this case, in spite of the fact that Organization A seems to be at a clear disadvantage to Organization B based upon the comparison I created, I’d still go with A to have long term success over B.

While I won’t go so far as to use the analogy that “slow and steady wins the race,” it is a bit of that practically speaking. Organization A has very rudimentary processes in place for knowledge sharing, and their cultural disposition to sharing is about on par with that, but their adherence to good change management principles, process orientation, and even their very mechanical way of executing knowledge management at least keeps them moving forward.

Compare that to Organization B. They have some very complex processes identified. At a high level, they have a picture of the world. Unfortunately for them, at the user level, the identified processes don’t mean a thing. In fact, the big-picture view of the world that Organization B has created for its users is so involved, that to attempt to use it is actually detrimental to getting the nuts and bolts work done. So what does that mean? It means that all the energy put into the identification, development, publishing, and advocating of the processes falls on deaf ears when the users are under daily pressure to get things done. So why does this matter? Well, because everyone is so busy trying to get their own work done, any talk of knowledge sharing also lands on those same overburdened ears.

Consequently, even though Organization A plods along, trying dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s as they attempt to inculcate knowledge sharing into their members, at least the rudimentary requirements of knowledge sharing are acknowledged and practiced. They may not know, but they do. Organization B’s grand plan may never see the light of day (in a practical sense where members are using it effectively). I’ve seen the progress of knowledge sharing in A, and it’s slow and painful, but it’s there. I’ve seen the lack of progress of knowledge sharing in B, and at this snapshot in time, I don’t see how they’re going to get it at all. Any ideas about how both organizations can be helped?