My friend Jon Husband writes about the turbulence caused to traditional ways of managing by networked people: Knowledge, power, and an historic shift in work and organizational design
I was struck this morning by his citing of some of the established management models, for example the Hay one for job evaluation:
1. Know-how (input) – knowledge and skills acquired through education and experience.
2. Problem-solving (throughput) – the application of the said knowledge to problems encountered in the process of doing the work.
3. Accountability (output)- the level and type of responsibility a given job has for coordinating, managing or otherwise having impact on an organization’s objectives.
I always feel discomfort when I see these things. They have a superficial logic to them, that initially makes me think I must be stupid not to see these deep truths about even this simple aspect of work. And then after a pause, I just gasp at the dreadful banality. Management literature is just awash with these lists and they contribute to a whole way of talking that strips life of its eccentricity and richness. At its worst, it is the language of the abusive bureaucrat – you just know that for all the protocols they spout, there will be a whole shadow side of their personality acting out all sorts of strangeness.
Jon articulates part of the problem here:
These methods set out a fundamental, foundational assumption about the nature of knowledge. They assume that knowledge and its acquisition, development and use is relatively quite stable, that it evolves quite slowly and carefully and that knowledge is based on an official, accepted taxonomy – a vertical arrangement of information and skills that are derived from the official institutions of our society
He goes on to show how flawed those assumptions are. Makes lots of sense to me.
Hat tip: Harold Jarche