Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Knowledge management, if done well, leads to a boring life.
If you ensure that teams and individuals in your organisation always have the knowledge they need to make the right decisions, and to anticipate and meet the challenges they face, then you remove all the excitement, danger and uncertainty that makes life interesting. Instead, people can just quietly and effectively get on with work, and deliver excellent results without any of the fuss. Efficient, but boring.
We saw this again last week in our Bird island game, where the teams building the winning towers saw it as unexciting. It was much more fun when they didn't know what to do - when they could be creative and chaotic - even though their performance was far far worse. Ineffective, but exciting.
I remember a drilling manager in BP saying "my goal is for drilling wells to become boring" (no pun intended). He wanted no danger, no excitement, no unpredictability, because (as the Macondo well showed us) the hazards are too great to work in any other way.
Just be aware of this, and think how people are incentivised.
Does your organisation reward the people who single-handedly pull their project out of trouble and disaster?
Or do you reward the ones who quietly and effectively learn, so that their project never gets into disaster in the first place?
Do you reward the troubleshooters, or the trouble-avoiders?
Posted by Nick Milton at 09:21