Today it is easy to acquire quality Knowledge and the power job to apply Knowledge. The difficult part is making sound judgments. Ignorant diagnosis are common. Good enterprise performance demands collectives first organize and discipline themselves to emerge the reality. The immense procedural energy required for a constructive collective is beyond the capacity of personnel.
The terms of entrance to elite educational institutions are clearly established. Students can prepare per the terms and hope to succeed. Good education lands good jobs. The new additions to the Knowledge work force have every reason to feel proud of their success and repose confidence in their Knowledge. However, while Knowledge can be acquired in the classroom, problem definition and problem solving skills pertaining to real life problems come only with practice. They require the ability to see beyond the obvious.
The common case of a doctor’s diagnosis illustrates the ages-old nature of Knowledge that necessitates good Knowledge use skills to avoid the ‘ignorant diagnosis’ trap or a conclusion that nullifies the possession of Knowledge. Knowledge is thus the problem in the pursuit of success. Imagine a person, say a man (could be a woman too) suddenly afflicted with a boil. He begins by ignoring it but when it turns persistent and painful and leads to fever he is forced to consult a doctor. Most doctors respond to the evidence of the boil, the symptom of fever, and prescribe an antibiotic. The fever abates and the boil disappears but not for long. It reappears in a new location. The fix of the antibiotic does not cure the root problem. The antibiotic is the consequence of an ignorant diagnosis in response to the obvious. The reality is perhaps a switch in the diet to oily food. Isolating the change in diet and restoring healthy eating will cure the root problem. The boil will cease and the fever go away without medication. Such is the power of emerging the reality.
A doctor committed to understanding the evidence and symptoms and willing to invest the time will probably engage in the Q&A necessary to emerge the reality. But most doctors apply the rules and have every reason to believe they are doing a great job in administering an antibiotic. For them re-appearance of the boil only means a chronic condition requiring a more severe response, i.e., a powerful suppressant. The result can only be failure with unpleasant side effects.
The ‘ignorant diagnosis’ is a chronic failing. It is widespread and is responsible for the pathetic response of government administrations across the globe. Senge (1) has explained the defensive reactions and learning disabilities that make it endemic in all large administrations. He has reviewed the work done in the twentieth century to emerge the reality and defined the five disciplines that assure its emergence.
A review (2) in 2003 by John Seely Brown (ex-head of Xerox Parc) and E.S.Gray's on the work of Peter Senge (Creating A Learning Culture: Strategy, Practice, And Technology, 2003) illustrates the current state of affairs:
- “Senge’s five disciplines provided instant utility for learning to organizations in 1990, yet learning organizations remain rare to this day.”
The period leading to this review was marked by the rise and fall of Knowledge Management as explained by the following slide:
Note: CAb stands for Collective Ability
The Velocifere picture above captures the way IT was used: as a tool to be driven by man. It could not drive man rapidly to destinations (man on top) because of submission to the conventional wisdom that only personnel can organize their exchange of Knowledge. This is explained in my Barrier ‘Absence of a means to exploit the latent collective ability for pursuing success’. Like the Velocifere, the 'IT is a tool' paradigm failed to enthuse though a select class tried to make do with it.
In the 2006 edition of his magnum opus Senge has lamented the poor interest amongst the CEOs and holds them responsible for the neglect of his acclaimed work. The body of the book acknowledges that the practice of the disciplines requires the personnel to overcome genuine and high priority demands on their time and energy and somehow manage the load imposed by globalization, specialization and the chaos of multiple interactions and relationships with numerous personnel. It is beyond normal leaders to play God and energize and motivate all the personnel all the time against such odds as depicted in the following slide:
The problem is that hopes and expectations are raised by the success of charismatic leaders like David Packard of Hewlett Packard and Ken Iverson of Nucor Steel.
Feedback first established its success in engineering systems for delivering the goal over time. Its impact may be understood by the process adopted to get the right temperature of hot water for a bath in winter. We rapidly test the water with our hand and operate the cold and hot water taps as needed. A few iterations or Feedback loops gives us the temperature we desire. Senge has opined that Feedback is the key driver for practicing the disciplines and developing the skill to emerge the reality. It helps to diagnose and cure the root of the problem as depicted by the following slide:
The slide shows Feedback is a product of Free-flow of Knowledge. Free-flow is possible only in an ‘Open’ environment. My hack ‘Achieving the ends of Knowledge with feedback’ explains the power of Feedback.
My Barrier ‘The importance of dreaming about the free flow of Knowledge’ presents the exclusive power of Dialogue to deliver Free-flow of Knowledge.
My hack ‘Compelling Energy for a quantum jump in organization performance with the same resources’ explains my breakthrough all-sizes-fit-one single process that converts IT from a tool to compelling and intelligent energy for forming constructive Collectives and assuring Dialogue in context. The concept of the Collective derives its meaning from the delivery of Feedback, i.e., a group of personnel distributed over space and time are called a Collective because they engage in Feedback. The Collective is formed dynamically in response to the discretion of the Knowledge worker. Technology is used to guide the selection of personnel for progressing the Dialogue in context.
Mine is perhaps the first work to interpret that Senge defined the way to escape the clutches of Maya. It uses the concept of Feedback developed by Senge to invest meaning into a Collective as an effective weapon against Maya.
(1) Senge, P. M. (2006). The Fifth Discipline. NY: Currency Doubleday (First Published: 1990)
http://www.johnseelybrown.com/intro_learningculture.html. (Accessed Sep. 01, 2010).