Feedback delivers goals. Busy administrators lack the Time and Energy to drive the required Knowledge free-flow in context. IT today is a helpless tool because a one-size-fit-all interaction process is impossible. My all-sizes-fit-one process creates the IT-is-inexhaustible-intelligent-energy paradigm. It fosters a teaming culture for Knowledge free-flow in context. Success follows.
The Goal: A quantum jump in the performance of organizations with the same resources.
- The goal is important since mankind is threatened today as never before. Environmental degradation, climate change, terrorism, accelerating earth consumption, unchecked population growth, populism, profligacy and self-aggrandizement are related phenomena that mankind must tame and quickly. The phenomena demand a superior ability to administer resources.
- The performance of organizations directly reflects the ability to administer resources.
- Policy and Strategy are the main instruments for effective administrative action. However, they alone cannot transform performance. Today, in the absence of a mechanism for application of Knowledge by personnel to achieve goals, there is a huge Policy/Execution or Strategy/Execution gap.
The Problem: The stagnation of Collective Ability
- Even intuitively it is clear that constructive uniting of the collective behind the leadership can transform results with the same resources.
- The civilized world is in the process of exiting the old command and control systems as they are poor in uniting knowledge workers behind the leader. An alternative has not taken shape though idealisms abound.
- Peter Drucker noted (1) in 1992 that productivity or ability of the Knowledge worker has, for all practical purposes, stagnated during the twentieth century while that in the manufacturing sector has grown forty-five fold due to the advent of the Assembly Line.
- Even the best organizations rarely exceed 30% of their potential (my estimates based on findings of Marcus Buckingham (2): only 25% personnel are committed, 50% sit on the fence and 25% work against the interests of the organization; and Jerry Collins (3): the best organizations beat market performance by an average of 7 times). Further, Buckingham’s data shows Collective Ability varies widely across the organization.
- My Barrier 'Absence of a means to exploit the latent collective ability for pursuing success' identifies Trust and Teamwork as the cornerstone of Collective Ability. The barrier states the Conventional Wisdom that governs Knowledge work today: only personnel can organize their Knowledge interactions.
- It is possible the physical upper limit to the time and energy personnel can spare for self-organizing their interactions to raise ability has already been reached. Besides, the first priority of personnel is results and not self-organization.
- The problem of stagnation is severe as the incidence of Knowledge interactions is growing rapidly per McKinsey (4).
It is likely that stagnation of Ability in applying Knowledge has suppressed the trust and the teamwork needed to emerge the reality, concert action and share responsibility. Fear of opportunism by peers, the reluctance to participate or commit, build-up of hierarchies for control, inability to progress the ‘And’ over the ‘Or’, rise of individual incentives, rampant cynicism of management wisdom, executive action disconnected with the Reality, and self-aggrandizement are some of the major symptoms of Stagnation of ability. Most of the problems that plague managements today like poor personnel autonomy, leaving brains at the front door, rising stress levels, internal strife, the reluctance to experiment, and politicization of decision making are amongst the secondary symptoms of the stagnation.
NOTE: The hurdles resolved by this hack are presented as Barriers for easier comprehension. Also, the hack has been abbreviated for easier absorbtion. Notes are linked where relevant. Rapid overview provided by presentation: Solution Overview (Click Here).
My Breakthrough Solution:
My recent hack ‘Solving the ages-old problem of the 'ignorant diagnosis' traces the ills of Management to the vicious Knowledge trap of either wishful thinking or the obvious that snares both Knowledgeable personnel and collectives. The trap is activated by multiple interpretations fitting the same facts and human folly of choosing self-interest over reality. My Hack ‘Achieving the ends of Knowledge with feedback’ explains how free flow of Knowledge in context serves to raise the Collective Ability. My Barrier 'Neglect of the accumulated Management Wisdom' introduces the concept of a compelling Knowledge Assembly Line to reliably assemble the interactions that take place spontaneously on each event as it circulates. The assembly coordinates the interactions to create a pipeline for the natural flow of Knowledge. The flow is quite similar to the popular Discussion Boards on Web News Stories. My hack ‘Creating a common language to unite stakeholders’ explains the development of a language that uses the Knowledge captured by the Knowledge Assembly Line to anchor Dialogue or free-flow of Knowledge. The concept of a language for daily usage explains why the Knowledge Assembly Line is adopted for all interactions.
The following is an insight to my Breakthrough process for converting IT from just a tool for Knowledge interactions to inexhaustible intelligent energy. My work goes on to harness this resource to provide the immense energy required for organizing and driving the Knowledge Assembly Line that tames Knowledge interactions.
The breakthrough does not create technology. It is a science developed from the universal norms, logic and relationships of teamwork. The science is used to harness technology. In brief:
- Civil servants and corporate professionals are end-products of the evolution of teamwork; their interactions are therefore governed by norms. I have identified the finite repeatable Actions with which they interact and the norms for deciding the Actions that follow a given Action. This enables a single rule for administrators to select their next Action on an event. Repeated application of the rule on an event during its circulation creates a single process to coordinate administrators for conducting all their Knowledge interactions. In effect it sets up a Knowledge Assembly Line. The administrators are coordinated even if distributed in space and time. The Knowledge they exchange flows through the pipeline established by the coordination in a manner quite similar to the Discussion boards on news stories. The difference is the emphasis on Facts and Assumptions by the author for converting the flow into Dialogue. The science also conceives a universal organization structure that satisfies the optimum structure defined by Nonaka (5).
The Architecture to conduct interactions and assure delivery of the Knowledge Assembly Line.
The technical breakthrough is based on my published paper (6) on the Science Of Interactions. I have now succeeded in migrating my implementation of the science to the enterprise scale. It consists of two parts:
- Breakthrough Part -1: Development of a flexible and universal Organization Structure integrated with event capture;
Note: The hierarchy in my system is not meant for control but for guidance and mentoring a defined set in relation to a pre-defined domain.
Please CLICK HERE to view full notes for this Section
- Breakthrough Part-2: Creation of a scalable and reliable single process to converge IT with Knowledge work and spontaneous interactions for compelling and systematic delivery of the Knowledge Assembly Line on each decision event. CLICK HERE to see the model for the Line: the Comment Board for news stories. See Doc_2_System Flow or CLICK HERE to view the Dialogue or free-flow established in context and experience its ease of conduct.
The change that organizations need to make in their core processes for adopting my solution:
ONLY replace use of email for business communication over the intranet / extranet with my infrastructure for all work and interaction. (Extranet covers the extended organization of selected customers and suppliers)
- The solution is primarily a communication backbone for the enterprise driven by IT. It replaces email with a smart interface that is over ten times more appealing for business communication and does not sacrifice any virtues of email.
- Once put in place the interface is compelling for the conduct of interactions and coordination on each event regardless of chaos. It offers popular IT tools in context for work and collaboration. There is no disruption. Adoption takes place without incentives as satisfaction of the needs of the Knowledge workers is built into the way of working. The natural flow of Knowledge brought about by the coordination is captured systematically. The Dialogue Board comes to the User. It enables Feedback. See Doc_2_System Flow.pdf in Materials Section. The ease of working and Feedback induce a culture for meaningful collaboration on each event regardless of the interaction load. The culture may be expected to develop the discipline and skills needed to raise Collective Ability or Trust & Teamwork for application of Knowledge. Positive reinforcement cycles for performance gains are set into motion. Further, systematic capture of all Knowledge exchange raises the available Knowledge and provides information for retrospective sense making.
- The flexible hierarchy defines personnel available for mentoring and support activities, the distribution of responsibilities at a point in time, and location of archives for particular event types. Experts can be identified based on their past contributions. The team that actually works on an event can be as dynamic and x-border as needed. The organization thus has the choice to be as conventional or emergent as desired. It can choose to evolve gradually.
- An evolved leadership can leverage the means established to progress the ‘Freedom’ of the personnel for raising the level of their contribution. This is because Freedom of response with access to senior levels of management translates into free-flow of Knowledge as explained in my Barrier ‘The importance of dreaming about the free flow of Knowledge’.
- The 24x7 tireless communication platform required is developed using Replication technology. The technology is as robust and time tested as email, if not more so, since it has developed as an intrinsic component of data management since the late 1980’s. My software smartly synchronizes database changes whenever connection takes place between a client and its server shared by multiple personnel, and between location servers. The smart replication leverages the comprehensive categorization achieved. It takes into account norms of teamwork, hierarchical relationships and processing performed in addition to chronology of database changes.
- Paul Strassman (7) has built up a reputation for a well-founded jaundiced view of IT in service of business administration. The heart of his viewpoint is that the bureaucracy has employed IT to build up its complexity. My work is focused on easing the conduct of Knowledge interactions, liberating personnel from disciplined performance of interaction procedures and empowering them to surface reality. Administrators, particularly in a bureaucracy, do not have to remember dogma or worry about organizing themselves for exchange of Knowledge or observe discipline in doing their work. All time, energy and discipline intensive activities relating to meaningful Dialogue are taken care of by logic and norms driven by IT. The administrators simply have to focus on progressing their own satisfaction and happiness.
- Today there is no process to assure Collective formation, reliably process decisions and refine judgments. There is total dependence on the drive and energy of busy and pre-occupied personnel to service this critical need. For all practical purposes Collectives do not have a means in which they can repose Faith for achieving success. They need it for commitment to the pursuit of success. The Faith is particularly needed where personnel are removed from the action but contribute to it or where the results follow over time. The way of working presented has proven itself for rapidly earning the Faith of personnel. The Faith reinforces the culture induced for superior application of Knowledge by Collectives. It is a strong antidote to cynicism and disruptive individualism.
- Bottom Line: I have taken the delivery goal from a review (8) by Tom Davenport, known as the pioneer of Knowledge Management. It mentioned a study by Calgon Carbon that concluded a 10% rise in trust and teamwork can lead to a 30% rise in the performance within two years. This may not be the norm but it does indicate a way to overcome the stagnation of Collective Ability.
- My work provides a reliable Feedback System, powered by its own inexhaustible and intelligent energy, for teams to effortlessly develop their latent potential and raise their Collective Ability, i.e., trust and teamwork, for applying Knowledge. It also enables leaders to mentor and guide this ability.
- It is to be noted that the leadership acquires the facility to mentor as well as learn, i.e., review and correct its own assumptions, generalizations and myopia. This is quite distinct from the command and control role it often lands up playing today because of the one-way Systems in operation. The improvement in Ability and rapid response achieved by empowered personnel serves to reduce the Strategy-Execution Gap with the same resources. Organizations can expect to raise their Ability by 25% within two years with more gains to follow as the organization evolves.
With support for launch of pilots my work is capable of establishing genuine convergence to transform trust and teamwork. Any organization may easily convince itself of the value-add before going the whole hog.
The testing will require a Windows server, an SQL server, a web server and clients of modest power running Windows operating system, SQL Express and SQL Light (SQL needed for offline operations). Popular software for document development like Windows Office suite is assumed on the clients. The organization would need to provide software for net meeting and calendaring and other popular network tools if it wishes to exploit them in conjunction. The required infrastructure is already in place in most organizations. Two levels of direct testing are possible:
- Level-1: Hands on workshop for top and senior management. To be effective it needs to be conducted in context of the operations of the enterprise. It will take between 3 and 4 months to study the enterprise, select a representative department with distributed operations and incorporate the operations into the system framework extending right to the top of the organization pyramid. Thereafter a half day workshop will be sufficient to present the philosophy of the system, train the participants in the system and get them to conduct interactions and solve a management problem for the selected department in a simulated environment. The participants will also get the opportunity to experience the following in the workshop:
- Transparent offline operations
- Flexibility of the organization structure – hierarchies may be reduced or increased as desired
- Smart handling of housekeeping and structural changes by the system.
- Total and reliable Knowledge Management with an extensive database for retrospective sense-making.
- The conversion of IT from a tool for collaboration to intelligent energy for far superior Knowledge Application.
- Why the system will compel its adoption, improve the work environment, reduce management process delays substantially, help identify and overcome limiting conditions, and drive positive reinforcement cycles for performance gains.
- Level-2: A pilot covering about 50 personnel. This will take an additional 4-6 months assuming that the pilot is implemented for the department selected in level-1 above and a related department. Ideally it would cover distribution of the departments over two locations. The additional time will primarily be absorbed in data development and developing the communication abilities of the personnel. The system is expected to progress its own adoption with help from the management to overcome inertia. In addition to the items stated for Level-1 the organization will be able to appreciate:
- A rise in Collective Ability by the end of the pilot period
- Far superior work environment with happier personnel
- Total adoption of the way of working without disruption of existing systems
- An incipient culture for free flow of Knowledge without incentives
- Ability of the leadership to monitor thinking and easily mentor and influence it where needed
- Implementation of desired security to protect the Knowledge work and interactions
- Personnel working effectively, as though they are in office, while travelling or from their homes.
- Rapid implementation of organization changes per market need or for streamlining operations or for progress towards emergent concepts of management.
Once convinced, the organization can roll out the way of working across the enterprise within a year with in-house teams.
I have developed the hack through sustained R&D over the past 20 years post a corporate career and my work with the Government Of India's system of administration, a legacy of the colonial era. I presented a technical paper on the governing science and the related architecture to transform the power of IT for delivering success at the Third International Conference on Intelligent System Design And Application held at OSU, Tulsa in August, 2003. However, the interpretation of the design and its usefulness for administration as presented in this Sketch is based on several works as well as my successful migration of the original design to the enterprise scale post 2003. The following are the major works referred to in the Sketch in order of appearance:
(1) Drucker Peter, F. (1992). ‘The new productivity challenge’, in Drucker, P. F. , Managing For The Future: The 1990s And Beyond: 79-95. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd.
(2) Buckingham Marcus. (August, 2001). Marcus Buckingham thinks your boss has an attitude problem. Fast Company, Issue 49. http://www.fastcompany.com/online/49/buckingham.html (Accessed July 01, 2010).
(3) Collins, J. (2001). Interview: Good questions, great answers. Fast Company.Com. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/51/goodtogreat.html (Accessed July 01, 2010).
(4) MCKinsey Studies: Employee interactions: creating competitive advantages - McKinsey Quarterly - Organization - Strategic Organization:
(5) Nonaka, I. (February, 1996). Interview: Knowledge has to do with truth, goodness, and beauty. Claus Otto Scharmer. Dialog on leadership. http://www.dialogonleadership.org/docs/Nonaka-1996.pdf (Accessed July 01, 2010).
(6) Kumar, R. (2003). Using IT to assure a culture for success. In Ajith Abraham et al (Eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Intelligent Systems Design and Applications: 353. OSU, Tulsa, USA, Springer Verlag, Germany.
(7) Strassman Paul. (June, 2004). The Impact Of Transaction Economics. Information Economics Journal.
http://www.strassmann.com/pubs/iej/2004-06-b.pdf (Accessed July 01, 2010).
(8) Calgon Carbon. (1999). As reported by Davenport, T. and Cantrell, S. (2002). The art of work. Outlook Journal
http://www.accenture.com/Global/Research_and_Insights/Outlook/By_Alphabet/TheArtOfWork.htm (Accessed July 01, 2010).