Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lenses, what are we filtering?

I've been pondering what to say in Wiki presentation that I'll be making to my colleagues and wondering what I should highlight in the 15 minutes I have allocated.

Less is more, is a maxim that makes a lot of sense to me as a designer, and is also indicative of a Knowledge Management philosophy that uses such paradoxes when knowledge is in play - complex, yet governed by such simple rules.

So I'm thinking that rather than talk about the 'how-to's' and getting amongst the trees, we should stand back and see the forest. This may help us get a sense of how our changing paradigm of work is altering the tools we use to do this work. That a large shift from Information to Knowledge work is occurring, and its only the way we look at something that makes it visible or not.

Let me give you an example. I was doing the shopping the other night and had picked-up a basket rather than collect a trolley, as I expected to be in and out fairly quickly. I soon realised my mistake when I looked at the shopping list and had already filled my basket with toilet rolls. I knew the trolleys were stored at the other end of the store (tisk), but thought while I'm down this end I'll pick-up some disinfectant. So I did - only there was a trolley in the way that one of the packers had left after unloading their products. I saw this trolley as something in the way, because I was on a mission to pick-up the bottle of disinfectant and then go to the other side of the store. It didn't fit with my model of what I was doing at the time, it was no longer a trolley but an inconvenience to move. Luckily I widened my focus enough to see what a goose I was.

I guess I'm saying that we judge things by our internal rules, those unquestioned assumptions we use as the stage to examine every objects from. A wiki will not be seen as an innovation if viewed from the light of 'previous' work habits. How does it more efficiently replace the 'Policy and Procedures' manual stored on a shared drive? Should the question not be about how to contribute amendments to the 'Policy and Procedures' manual?

This moves it from the old paradigm of Top-down hierarchy to a flatter structure (or Nonaka's Matrix structure) that can provide additional benefits, such as:
  • Employee Empowerment/Engagement
  • Information Capture from the coalface
  • Open Comunication
  • Expert Input
So that's my post today - seeing one thing makes you blind to others, its what lenses you wear that determine what you see.

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