August 22, 2008

Out of The Box - Week Ending 8/22

This week is dedicated to the letters 'K' for krazy and 'P' for patience, because that's what you need when life gets krazy, hahaha.

Sadly, with the exception of Kanye West's BeKanye advert, I had nothing too interesting in the way of celebrity gossip and I usually reserve camping out on Page Six and New York Social Diary for the days when my desk isn't covered in paper (since I can spend hours researching the social elite and their - sometimes sketchy, sometimes impressive, and always entertaining - ways.

Anyway, this week's 'Out of The Box' reads were a total mixed bag.
  • Yet another article supporting the reason organizations need KM. Looking for a way to survive a talent shortage, consider including succession planning and knowledge transfers strategies(Training/Coaching/Mentoring) into your KM initiatives.
  • The days of schmoozing clients may be over for sales-folks, but it can't hurt KM professionals looking to build social capital within their organizations.
  • 'How To' of the Week: How to Hypermile

  • Beacon wasn't such hit for Facebook, but can something like it help you to understand the users of your knowledgebase?
  • Companies today seem to go overboard to stop employees from griping publicly, but knowing what is being said about your organization, inside and out, is part of managing knowledge too.
  • Cool site: e-BIM enables you to share with your peers a method, a solution, a proven best practice that solves your specific problems when you need it solved. It's easy. It's fast. It's free.

August 19, 2008

'Green' KM?

It's official, I have achieved Olympic burnout. After watching the Games non-stop on three channels, day and night, I've just gotta catch some zzzz's. I'm still trying to watch some of the Track and Field events, but no more qualifiers and heats for me...gimme the medal action only so I can finally get rid of these bags under my eyes!!!

Anywho, a few months back I was interviewing for a KM spot with a design firm when I was asked about my familiarity with working in a 'green' environment. I haven't had the chance to work in such an environment and I wondered if, for the purpose of KM, it really even mattered. I mean, when I think of a 'green' environment, off the top of my head I think about making the workspace environmentally friendly (recycling bins, oxygenating plants, maybe a little feng shui in the layout of the space). Integrating a 'green' approach into a design philosophy? I can see that, but 'green' KM?

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was reading some random article on organizational ecology and I wondered if this was (or somehow related to) 'green' KM.

Fingers tapping on the desk...still wondering.

So then, I started working on this post and, originally, I was just looking to explore possible connections between organizational ecology and 'green' philosophies and the implications of being 'green' on KM. But, when I really got into it, I started to realize the potential value of taking a 'green' approach to the implementation of a KM strategy, much in the same I've utlized a 'guerilla' approach in past assignments.

While there seems to be plenty of wrong ways to implement a KM strategy, I certainly don't believe that there is any one right way. It all boils down to the type of culture your dealing with and who you are as a Knowledge Manager. And now I'm eager to explore other socio-political approaches to "selling" KM to an organization and achieving cultural buy-in and adoption. I'll be sure to post here as I discover them.

The 'green' movement - so you don't have to open a new tab and google it - revolves around the promotion of an ecosophy and the adoption/application of environmentally responsible practices and behaviors in order to protect and respect our natural environment. These practices can include using alternative energy and fuels, green building and remodeling materials and practices, organic and natural foods, natural medicine and health, hybrid and electric cars and motorcycles, forestry management, natural body care, recyclable carpet and clothing, eco-friendly diapers, wind-powered appliances, solar water heating and much more.

Politically speaking, Greens, focus on ecological and environmental issues, as well as civil rights and social justice.

So, can KM be 'green'? I'm starting to think yes! In his Lifehack article, Getting Green Done, Dustin Wax suggests that David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is a good guide to Green living "since the principles of Green living are not all that different from the principles we use to help us be more productive."

He goes on to propose these 6 Principles of Green Living:
  1. Simplicty: more stuff means more complexity — more upkeep, more keeping track, more things to do.
  2. Fairness: we consume so much because we can — and we can because we don’t deal fairly with everyone involved.
  3. Community: too much of our world market is out of sight, and therefore out of mind.
  4. Sustainability: a system is sustainable when the negative outputs of that system are accommodated and turned into positive outputs. most of our global production is not sustainable!
  5. Planning: planning means looking ahead towards a desired outcome; it also means thinking a little bit about the community that isn’t here yet and dealing fairly with them. creating sustainability requires planning!
  6. Transparency:decisions these days are made behind closed doors. a green society requires the active involvement of all its participants!
By the by, I encourage EVERYONE to read this article. Not only will it provide more context for these principles, but it's a quick read that will give you something to think about.

Dustin sums up his manifesto with a potent declaration to those who are truly committed to going 'green': "...we can’t do all the work. We can’t even do a tiny fraction of the work. We can suggest, prod, provide tricks and hacks, but in the end, you’re going to have to make some decisions, to think about how your actions fit in with you values, whatever they are."

This statement, which echoes current KM crush Heifetz's views on adaptive leadership, applies equally to the person(s) responsible for developing and implementing KM strategies and the organizational community (both the leadership and the rank-and-file). Ironically, this seems to be one of the biggest challenges for organizations, not just with KM, but with any initiative that seems to clash with or challenge the bottom-line goal of profit. Unfortunately, "profit" is not a value. Although, perhaps organizations need to take a look at what they're willing to do (actions) in the pursuit of profit and how well it squares up with their actual values.

Now, let's apply these principles to KM! And, there's no real order to these, just keep them in mind as you're developing your strategy.

I'm sure most folks are familiar with the KISS methodology - 'Keep It Simple Stupid'. Greens would equate this to measuring and, subsequently reducing, your ecological footprint, which is the impact you have on the natural environment. In terms of KM, I define it as being stealthy and minimally invasive in your KM efforts. One of the ways I attempt to achieve this is by integrating existing technologies that work, rather than trying to introduce a radical new technology or process. When new processes are necessary, recognize and appreciate the potential for disruption, and roll them out in steps.

Almost all of the KM strategies I've been involved with and have discussed with folks are developed, exclusively, from the perspective of the organization and seen as a benefit to the organization and, subsequently, to employees who live to see another paycheck, but a 'green' approach invites you to take a closer look at your strategy and ask (1) how well it acknowledges the true value - to the holder - of the knowledge/information you're asking folks to share and, (2) what your true intentions are with regards to that knowledge/information. It's one thing to say knowledge sharing doesn't diminish an individuals value to the organization, but do you really mean it and do your policies/practices actually support this statement? Be honest, because if you're not sure, then it's likely your employees don't believe it either and that will result in a poor knowledge sharing community or, at best, an immature one.

This is why I preach the merits of KM participation as a means of developing one's Personal Competitive Advantage (PCA). I believe it's critical to help an organization's workers/employees become aware of what this is and how they can and should develop theirs. Being aware of the real value of one's knowledge and the personal benefit of knowledge sharing can only enhance KM efforts. Moreover, organizations that want to remain competitive need to quit "shuckin' and jivin'" and start dealing more fairly with their workers in terms of salary and work-life balance. Contrary to popular opinion, the rank-and-file aren't stupid; they simply give as good as they get. Which, when you think about it is pretty smart; why sweat blood and tears for a business you don't own, that has no loyalty to you, so that someone else can get rich? It's appalling how little regard people can have for others in pursuit of the almighty dollar. The bottom line: as long as your bottom-line is money, don't expect your KM efforts to bear anywhere near the kind of fruit they could be bearing if your bottom-line was people (and that means people other than you, lol.)

Get in the trenches! I know that I'm in love with my knowledge audit and not everyone does one (or, necessarily, needs to) but I'll be damned if it isn't the ever-lovin' dumbest thing in the whole wide world to come up with a strategy from on high at a distance.

Or, maybe that's just how I see it.

After all, I tend to see knowledge management as community development, so I can't understand for a minute how, on Earth, someone could come up with a strategy to develop a community without getting in the trenches with said community. Knowledge management is dependent upon sharing information and resources in community. for this to happen people need to develop relationships with one another predicated on mutual trust, respect, and recognition of their interdependence; the Knowledge Manager should be a force for building that type of community. And, by doing so you can greater insight into how your KM strategy will be most effective.

Sometimes perspective makes all the difference.

Truly, Dustin says it best:
A system is sustainable when the negative outputs of that system are accommodated and turned into positive outputs. Think about your working life — if you weren’t getting paid, would you work so hard? Your hard work — a negative thing — is converted into something positive — a paycheck. Your employer turns the negative output — paying more money — into a positive input — increased revenue. The system sustains itself — or it collapses. If you aren’t getting paid enough, you quit working hard, revenues shrink, the employer goes out of business. Or they start putting in more and more inputs; using military forces to compel labor is not unheard of. Eventually those systems collapse too, when the cost of maintaining them outweighs the benefits produced by them. And they often collapse violently. Most of our global production is not sustainable.
It's not enough to develop and implement a KM strategy, it needs to be sustainable beyond anyone acting in an official Knowledge Manager capacity. In order for that to happen, it needs to accommodate the negative outputs of the organization (knowledge hoarding, fears of diminished value, layoffs/downsizing, change fatigue, working more for less, etc.) and turn them into a positive output (increased Personal Competitive Advantage, ease of access to information needed to complete your job, better workplace relationships, stronger market position of the company which must lead to increased financial rewards for everyone, less stressful work environment, improved work-life balance, etc.).

Ask yourself, how long your organization's formal KM strategy would last if the KM team were no more and what it would take for your answer to be 'indefinitely', then make it so.

As Dustin writes, "creating sustainability requires planning".

I'm reminded here of work I've done establishing mission and vision statements. The mission is what you intend to do; it describes your goals and purpose, your intentions. The vision describes what you'd like to achieve; what the results of your efforts might look like in some utopian future.

The mission is more matter of fact while the vision doesn't necessarily have to be realistic or achievable. In fact, some believe it should have a certain unattainable utopian quality to it, representing the highest ideal and providing a lofty goal to aspire to.

The combination of mission and vision is what drives an organizations goals from quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year.

Planning a susttained, strategic KM initiative should follow similar guidelines.

Operate in the present with your eye on the future, thinking in terms of changes and innovations in technology, the workforce, politics, market forces, the environment, and social movements and the impact on your organization and how you might respond strategically.

Here, I like to think of the impact of file sharing on the music industry. I remember back in the mid-90's when Blockbuster was large-and-in-charge with both music and video stores and they had announced a plan to burn CD's in-store, allowing customers to buy both regular and custom CD's, charging by the song. And then, without explanation, the plan fell through, most likely because the larger recording industry wanted to control the market as much as possible to generate as much profit as possible.

The result: within three years file-sharing had become rampant. And, within ten years, despite a lot of those early lawsuits against universities average Jo-ann college student, file sharing has become the norm and you can hardly find a store that deals exclusively in CD's and records.

The lesson: Change is inevitable no matter how much you want to be in control or "manage" things. Trying to maintain too much control might just cost you big in the long run. Sometimes all you can do is keep an eye on the future and have a plan for riding the wave. The good news is that forward-thinking organizations who keep up with the trends are often able to capitalize on them and set a few of their own.

Two years ago, I was interviewing for a consulting job with IBM and - no lie - I was asked to give the most convoluted, technical definition of knowledge management that I could come up with.

I couldn't believe it.

Especially since, after years of having to explain KM as simply as possible to professors and family...I sorta prided myself on being able to keep things simple and create some sort of understanding of what KM is (loosely speaking) and what it can do.

Idealism aside, transparency in business isn't always feasible and often many stakeholders are asked to participate in the operation of an organization with limited knowledge and involvement. Like it or not, "sometimes it be's like that", hahaha. However, KM doesn't have to be one of the areas where transparency is an issue, particularly if you're dealing with change fatigue and a general suspicion about what KM is and its impact on an individuals value to the organization. As a self-professed authoritarian, I understand that many times it isn't that we can't bring everyone into the decision-making process, we just don't want to drag the process out by being overly democratic.

But guess what? Cultural changes are made and driven by the culture. Ya-huh.

Besides, the goal here isn't so much to give everyone a say and put every decision up for a vote, it's to adopt a protocol for sharing information that supports full disclosure. After all, it's the responsibility of each stakeholder to make themselves aware of what's going on with KM, but it's the Knowledge Manager's responsibility to make that information available, accessible, and digestable (understood) and provide a vehicle for responding to any and all questions, concerns, and comments. It's this approach that promotes and develops community which promotes sustainability.

So, whodathunk it, 'green' KM.

Now, I've got that line from the G.I. Joe PSA's that used to air after each episode stuck in my head: "Now we know!" "And knowing is half the battle."

So funny.

August 14, 2008

Out of The Box - Week Ending 8/15

Has this week flown by or what?? My only complaint is that I've got bags under my eyes from staying up late watching as much Olympics coverage as I can coax out of my telly. Well, I do have one other complaint, about the Olympics: is it too much to ask to see a little more tennis coverage? I'm reeling from the losses of the Williams sisters and Fed, but can we see anything more than swimming, gymnastics, and boxing (that's on one of the 24-7 cable channels every time I fip over to it). Kudos to Michael Phelps though, always a pleasure to watch dolphin-boy tread water. And, passport or no, is it obvious to anyone else that at least two of the Chinese gymnasts are just out of Huggies?!?!?!

Quite coincidentally this week's reads seemed to provide a variety of ideas for KM practitioners looking to branch out into independent consulting or to expand your practice if you're already doing your own thing, as well as innovative marketing and branding tactics.

August 11, 2008

Adaptive Leadership & My New KM Crush

OR, "Is It Time To Take Over The World Yet, Brain?"

Okay, so I'm trying to get into the groove of this whole, weekly blogging thing. Ironically, I'm crazy busy right now (still) trying to launch a city-wide KM survey all on my lonesome and planning a fundraising tourney for 2009, in addition to all that other stuff I do everyday (work, tennis...iron Emilie's linen garments), so you'd think I'd have little to no time to blog, but I suppose my thoughts are also racing and blogging is helping a bit to keep me focused.

Anyway, I was doing some follow-up research on ROWE earlier this week, first reading about why ROWE sucks and then how ROWE Aims to "Rock the Workplace Boat". It was in the latter article that I got stuck on (ROWE creators) Cali Ressler & Jody Thompson's comments on adaptive change vs. technical change and started googling "adaptive change" to get more insight into the theory. That search brought me to the transcript of a 1999 interview with Professor Ronald Heifetz who spoke on the subject.

Professor Heifetz, author of the best-selling "Leadership Without Easy Answers", is billed as one of the world's leading authorities on leadership. He is the founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He's also a physician, a cellist, and, after reading this transcript, my new KM crush.


Though I'm fond of being the quirky oddball (you've got to keep a sense of humor if you want to make it in this world, period, let alone the business world), one of my core values, personally and professionally, is the development of human beings into their potential - spiritually, intellectually, and socially. Every situation is an opportunity to learn and learning is how we grow. Unfortunately, in a society that increasingly places money, "things"/possessions, and a quality of living that is exclusive, rather than inclusive above respect for life, the environment which life requires for sustenance, education and basic human dignity, I'm often left to wonder how the human race continues to thrive......I'm trying to think of a funny joke to support that statement, but the ones I typically use are either highly inappropriate, even for this blog, or just plain sad.

Anyway, the need to find creative avenues to promote and create change in how we perceive the value and worth of people - beyond their ability to make a profit, sell a product, or entertain us - and, subsequently, help people develop into their potential, is one of the primary reasons I was attracted to knowledge management. This is in the spirit of one of my literary crushes, Audre Lorde, and her call to forge new tools with which to create true change in the world.

So, when I have the opportunity to learn from folks whose message is revolutionary in its simplicity and application, folks like author and educator Parker Palmer who teaches in (one of my favorite books) "To Know As We Are Known: Education As A Spiritual Journey" that the origin of knowledge is love, whose message is revolutionary in its simplicity and application, I am inspired to improve myself as a student, a teacher, a professional, and a person.

I'm still swimming in the pool of Professor Heifetz's ideas a little too deeply to string together the best words to effectively present why I'm 'feeling' them so much, but I'll do my best (otherwise, what's the point of this blog!?!?!).

Professor Heifetz's theory of adaptive change is rooted in the principles of evolutionary biology wherein an organism makes determinations about what DNA to keep, what to discard, and what to build as it responds - adapts - to its ever changing environment. Likewise, organizations must make similar determinations with regards to business/cultural practices, processes, and products. Not rocket science, I know, but Heifetz goes on to highlight the importance of conservation - holding on to what works - in this process, and how frequently it is overlooked.

Leadership then, in Heifetz's words, is about the mobilization of adaptive work, rather than transformational change; "(E)ngaging people to make progress on the adaptive problems they face". In this regard, adaptive leadership is not, as I learned, unlike being a facilitator: helping folks to identify the challenge(s), creating an environment in which challenges can be resolved, providing tools and resources to assist in resolution efforts, enabling/empowering folks to be problem solvers, but not taking on the responsibility and burden of resolving the challenge(s) for them. "In adaptive problems, the people themselves are the problem; the solution, therefore, lies within them. If they don't change their ways, then you have no solution - all you have is a proposal." Considering that we live in a country (for those of us in the USA) in which too many folks are all too willing to throw their collective hands up and declare "you can't fight city hall" or "one vote won't make a difference" despite the fact that collectively we ARE the government, you can see how this process can be a challenge in and of itself. Still, I think it's spot on and overdue.

"The challenge with adaptive work, in biology and in organizational life, is to figure out how to capitalize on history without being enslaved by it."
This is an area that I work hard to address in my KM work and one that I often see ignored and disregarded. I stress, repeatedly, that regardless if the term KM is used in an organization or whether or not a documented strategy for managing knowledge/information exists, there is no such thing as an organization that does not have a KM strategy. Understanding in what form that strategy exists and how it exists, how it lives in an organization and is embodied in the culture is key to determining what is and isn't working and what innovations should be considered in helping the organization achieve its KM goals. This approach also makes KM less arcane to the organization and understanding lessens the fear and apprehension associated with change.

Although, after reading this piece, perhaps I should re-think how I use word 'fear' with regards to change. As Professor Heifetz states,

"The aphorism that is commonly bandied about is "people resist change," or "change frightens people." I think that’s wrong. I think that when people win the lottery and win a million dollars, or ten million dollars, they know their life is going to be enormously changed and they welcome that change. They don’t give the money back. Change is hard when it represents the possibility of loss. It’s the possibility of loss, and the apprehension, fear, and anxiety associated with that possibility of loss that generates resistance."
Heifetz goes on to discuss the lack of appreciation and respect given to "the pain of change".

I'm pretty sure I've been a capital 'A' ass at times in my efforts to penetrate organizational cultures and spread the 'good word of KM'. And, God only knows how many Pinky-and-the-Brain hours I've spent developing KM branding strategies. I even have a name for it, Guerilla KM. All of this, of course, isn't meant to intentionally disrespect "the pain of change", but, like many aggresive change strategies, it's predicated on the idea that those whose behavior I'm trying to change, are mostly lazy, selfish, self-interested, narrow-minded, stuck in the past, unsavvy, control freaks. In my defense, however, I do begin my KM branding efforts (Plan A) by educating folks on the relevance of KM to what they do.

Then I get my 'Brain' on.

Once decisions have been made about what to keep, discard, and where to innovate, Heifetz suggests the need for leaders (who themselves must have an experimental mindset) to "mobilize people for a set of innovative experiments," the goal of which is to "graft onto the best of the organizational DNA so that the organization can thrive in the future."

Heifetz makes a lot of really cool points (at least, in my mind they're cool) and you can read some of his thoughts here, here, and here. Ultimately, the goal of adaptive change and adaptive leadership is to "move people from an entrenched set of investments with an entrenched set of loyalties to a more curious, adventuresome, experimental mindset. Then, they are more willing to entertain opposing points of view without feeling that their most precious set of values are going to be lost in the process. With the faith in themselves that they can find and then hold onto what is most essential."

As knowledge managers, we can save ourselves a lot of grief and anxiety by understanding and addressing the actual needs of our organizations and heeding Heifetz's call to an adaptive leadership. Interestingly enough, even with this approach, you'll still get to be the cool kid problem solver. Holla!

I've got to get out of the office to get to a tennis match, so, I'll close with Professor Heifetz's 5 Principles of Leadership from "Leadership Without Easy Answers".
  1. Identify the adaptive challenge (the issues, values and stakes).
  2. Keep the level of distress within a tolerable range so that the group can do its adaptive work.
  3. Focus attention on ripening issues, not on distractions.
  4. Give the work back to the people, but at a rate they can handle.
  5. Protect the voices of leadership in the community that are without authority.
Welcome to my crush crew Doc!

August 8, 2008

Out of The Box - Week Ending 8/8

I think this has to be the first time in ages that I've usd the phrase "Thank-God-It's-Friday", but this has been a totally 'OMG TGIF' kinda week! (I sound like I'm 12.)

Though work was unusually uninspiring, this week's readings hit the spot.

August 6, 2008

ROWE v. Young: Work-Model of the Knowledge Economy?

OR, "Is This The Revolution I Ordered?"

"You say you want a revolution
Well you know we all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world..."
Okay, this work-week has been horribly dull. It's only Wednesday and instead of enjoying my usual hump day revelry I feel like I'm just listening to the ticks of the clock, waiting for the whistle to blow.

I did discover yesterday that my dream of living in a hobbit house is fully realizable - if I'm willing to move to Oregon. That would be a resounding 'No, thanks', but it had me all giddy, nonetheless. (Clearly the venture wouldn't be going belly up if it had been developed closer to the North Georgia Mountains).

Anyway, I suppose my pitiful work-state is the perfect occasion to post my thoughts on ROWE.

For the last week I've been reading and thinking about results-only (results-oriented) work environments and the implications of/on KM.

ROWE, for the uninitiated, is based on the idea of each person being free "to do whatever they want, whenever they want as long as the work gets done". The line of thought being that, especially in our increasingly tech savvy world, as long as folks are able to get their work done, they shouldn't have to be tied down to a specific location or for a specific period of time.

I came across an article on ROWE a little more than two months ago and my immediate response was, "hell yeah". I mean, this week is a perfect example. Are there things I could be doing in the office? Suuure. Do I need to be here for 8 hours a day doing these things? Noooo, not really, but try explaining that to my boss.

Anyway, while my immediate reaction was all, "hell yeah, right on, turn it up", I started thinking about the impact of ROWE on KM and vice versa and, well, to be honest, the jury is still out.

Right off the top ROWE clearly seems perfectly suited for knowledge intensive businesses and professionals - lawyers, engineers, consultants, and salespeople for example. In fact, you could argue that these folks have utilized this concept in some way, shape, or form for years before the concept of ROWE. However (and I'm thinking about my dad and his peers here), this is also during a time when knowledge hoarding was rampant and completely OOC and it wasn't uncommon to leave for a business trip on Monday working as a consultant or a sales guy for Big Blue and come back on Friday working in a similar capacity for Microsoft.

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, arguing against ROWE by suggesting that it will lead to employee turnover and disloyalty. On the contrary, I'm sure it could become a source of tremendous employee loyalty. I can't help but wonder, though, how successful ROWE is in organizations with a strategic KM initiative in place versus those without one. And, for organizations adopting ROWE without a formal KM strategy, how much more difficult will future KM efforts be?

It seems to me that, in the long-run, a successful ROWE implementation is dependent upon having both a strategic KM initative and a strong resource management solution. I don't think that KM is necessary to introduce ROWE to an organization, but, from a KM perspective, I don't know if I would approve of ROWE without it. For no other reason than it puts more pressure on "capture" component of KM. If an organization is already struggling with identifying and capturing information, ROWE is hardly going to make things easier, even though the demand for having access to and sharing critical knowledge and information will be bananas. And yes, it's possible that transitioning to ROWE could help stress the importance of KM, but that's kinda like recognizing the need for a fire extinguisher while your house is burning down.

On the flip side, adopting ROWE in an organization that has had some success with KM is a great way to demonstrate the value of knowledge management. Clearly, other success factors have to be taken into consideration (culture and leadership, for example), but having a managed strategy in place to coordinate a disparate, mobile, results-oriented workforce seems key to me.

I'm just saying!

Anyway, I still have questions about ROWE that I'd need to answer before I'm able to come to a comfortable conclusion on the concept (i.e., What are other organizations besides Best Buy that have had success deploying ROWE?, Does ROWE encourages employees to go above and beyond the call of duty? Or, is it better suited to the more ambitious employees?), but one thing that excites me about ROWE is its potential to become the work-model/management theory of the knowledge economy. Heck, I'm pretty sure that many of the strongest ROWE doubters are fierce adherents of Taylorism.

That is, assuming ROWE is about more than just working flex hours.

See, that's where I get stuck on the fence. I mean, ROWE was conceived as way of enabling folks to work in a manner/place/time-frame that best reflects their strengths, which, results in increased productivity and efficiency, then yeah, I'm down with that. And, I can see where this type of work environment not only promotes work-life balance, but has the potential to take the gloves off for what an employee can do in an organization and professionally, in general. Not the least by re-conceptualizing work and our cultural attitude about work - transitioning work from something you do to live, to something you live to do; because you enjoy it and because it gives you purpose, sense of self, opportunity fill in the blank.

Clarification: It may seem as if I'm saying folks can't change their concept about work on their. Not true. But our society, as a whole, does perpetuate a negative attitude about/towards work that is linked to competitiveness, issues of trust, equality, fairness, entitlement, and an overemphasis on the accumulation of material wealth. This behavior is learned and reinforced in the home, the classroom, on the playground, in church, and in the workplace. In the face of this cultural programming it's not only understandable that most people don't like 'work', it's almost suprising when folks do!

I think that having a new way of working goes a long way towards reconceptualizing attitudes about work. I once wrote a paper championing the idea of allowing employees, within an established budget and over and above any universally necessary org training (e.g., software training), to choose their own T&D/skill-building activities. The idea being that people are better able to learn from activities that matter to them and which they enjoy on a personal level. For their part, each employee must be able to share with their department and/or the larger organization (in their own way/words) what relevant lessons they were able to draw from their chosen activity. When I think about the potential of ROWE, this ability to make work meaningful, enjoyable...personal, beyond a paycheck, is what comes to mind.

However, if it's just about flex hours, mehhh, I'd be disappointed. I'd still see some value to overall work-life balance in ROWE, but I'm looking for a revolution not a reprieve.

August 1, 2008

Out of The Box - Week Ending 8/1

This morning, while doing some research on results-oriented work environments, I was inspired by Rosetta Thurman's 'The Friday Four' on her Perspectives From The Pipeline blog to throw a bit of weekly 'blurb' blogging onto my own site.

Every week I sift through dozens of miscellaneous articles and blogs which inspire thoughts and ideas on KM (and about a dozen more that serve no other purpose than to entertain me with a hearty helping of junk media).

So, while my lunch is heating up in the break-room (clearly not taking Rosetta's add-on advice to the BBC News Magazine article on how to make time to think; does it count if I blog while I eat lunch at my desk?) here's a list of the things that had me thinking out of the box this week (and tickled my funny bone)!

  • Get Creative! Author and marketing and innovation consultant, Cynthia Barton Rabe, introduces the concept of 'zero-gravity thinkers' as a means of promoting creativity and rejuvenating the way organizations think. Rabe defines zero-gravity thinkers "as people
    who have psychological distance from the company or team, people who have Renaissance tendencies...'who think broadly and out of the box on a regular basis'".
  • Celebrity Quote of The Week: "If you notice, since Britney started wearing clothes and behaving, Paris is out of town not bothering anybody anymore - thank God - and evidently Lindsay Lohan has gone gay, we don't seem to have much of an issue." – Los Angeles police chief William Bratton, linking a decline in problems with paparazzi to the good behavior of several high-profile celebrities, to KNBC-TV
  • Tapping the Creativity of Downtime: Excerpted..."In its early days, Chris Wallace's company didn't always have enough work to keep its staff fully occupied designing interactive Web sites for clients. But it didn't want to lose any talent. So he and his co-founders decided to tell employees they could pursue their own interests in their downtime, doing just about whatever they wanted, on the clock."