It is the application of Knowledge that delivers results not possession. Blindness to personal handicaps and tunnel vision is common. Successful empowerment needs management of interactions for reliable feedback.
It is not enough to possess Knowledge of the way to great possibilities or to be handed the power to change what exists. It is absolutely essential to follow a reliable way for applying the Knowledge and obtaining results. Where people are concerned there is a huge gap between what they know and what they are able to do. To some extent the gap is due to the state of mind. Even champion athletes suffer from it and have to bear inexplicable slumps in performance. It is not my purpose to discuss the state of mind here. My concern is the gap between perception and reality, of perfectly sane and able people or groups pursuing the black cat in the lighted room when they should be looking for it in the dark room:
- In 2009 motor cycle gangs plagued the Greater Kailash locality of New Delhi. Following a public outcry the police cracked down. Success was swiftly claimed. In reality the gang shifted its operation to the not too distant locality of Noida. The oppression was not cleared. Its root cause was never addressed. Unemployment among the educated youth of Delhi is unaffected.
Peter Senge has catalogued the reasons why we routinely misinterpret facts:
- Learning Disabilities. They arise because corporate thinking is not linear but convoluted. E.g., the bureaucrat defines the problem as outside the domain of his position and refuses responsibility and action. Senge has listed seven learning disabilities.
- Defensive reactions. They may be palliative like alcohol taken to reduce stress or part of a defence mechanism to cope with unconscious fears or anxiety, e.g., repression where the person tends to forget the painful thought or experience as in the case of the ill prepared student overlooking the reverse side of the exam question paper. Experts have listed eight defence mechanisms that restrict the comfort zone.
- Assumptions. Difference in assumptions is a common source of misunderstandings. E.g., a family lands up with the children at a dinner where only adults are expected.
- Generalizations. These are the mind sets that often determine our response. E.g., we are naturally distrustful of squint eyed shopkeepers.
- Looking at the part instead of the whole: First, the behavior of the system doesn't depend on what each part is doing but on how each part is interacting with the rest. Second, to understand a system we need to understand how it fits into the larger system of which it is a part. Third, and most important, what we call the parts need not be taken as primary. In fact, how we define the parts is fundamentally a matter of perspective and purpose, not intrinsic in the nature of the "real thing" we are looking at.
Misinterpretation is responsible for the mistakes we commit and repeat. We respond to the obvious and fail to distinguish the symptom from the cause. Thus the tyro doctor may treat the boil that appears on the arm and causes fever with an antibiotic. The boil disappears only to reappear on the shoulder. The cause may actually be the oily food being ingested and till that is discontinued the symptoms will reappear.
The Reactions and Disabilities serve a protective purpose from threats in the environment and that is why they are a part of our armoury. They set up our comfort zone. We live with equanimity within our comfort zones though the world may be collapsing around us or creating choices to lure us. We need this ability to retain our sanity though bombarded daily by diverse choices and threats. The trouble is that real threats may also be ignored and opportunities neglected. A shift of mind is needed to perceive the reality. This learning usually entails stretching of the comfort zone and that is rarely a simple or easy task. It causes discomfort and absorbs time and energy. Any one of them is ample reason for declining involvement. Besides, where teams are involved, team learning is needed for the shift of mind. That is even more difficult because of the common cultural reluctance to share Knowledge. Often the effort is abandoned without attempt for no reliable System exists to progress it.
A good starting point for superior Knowledge Application by personnel is the acceptance that we are part of the System and we can be amiss in our thinking. Deming has categorically stated that the transformation to superior productivity must come from within. The transformation cannot be imposed or grafted on.
Where the starting point does not exist it may be created by openness or the free-flow of Knowledge as explained by my Barrier: The importance of dreaming about the free flow of Knowledge. The Barrier also explains the energy shortfall that makes organizing and driving free-flow of Knowledge a rare phenomenon today.
The hack ‘Creating a common language to unite stakeholders’ defines the urgent need to establish a means for free-flow. It introduces my hack 'Compelling Energy for a quantum jump in organization performance with the same resources' where I have presented my conversion of IT from a tool to ‘intelligent energy’ for organizing and driving the free-flow of Knowledge across the distributed enterprise. The hack's produce of 'intelligent energy' satisfies key personal needs lying unsatisfied today, as explained in my Barrier 'Neglect of the accumulated Management Wisdom', to overcome all obstacles to free-flow. The infrastructure may be rolled out with the ease of email by company personnel. The 'intelligent energy' is easily embedded in the daily operations as explained by my Hack 'Creating a common language to unite stakeholders' and is culture inducing.
The transformation from within progressed by my work shall have limits. While my work shall unite the 16-25% (different sources) personnel that work in the interest of the organization, and shall bring into the collective fold a further 50% or so who sit on the fence (per Marcus Buckingham (1) of Gallup), it may not materially affect the balance who work against the interest of the organization. I am inclined to believe that may not be a real loss for complacency is an ever-present danger and these mal-contents, with perhaps power as their motive, will keep the constructive collective on their toes.
(1) 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).