Posts filed under ‘Organizational Culture’
I came across a new blog today, courtesy of my Info Week Daily newsletter. The retrospector has a well written post about how to motivate geek employees. One would think that more managers would realize these key points by now.
A lot of these apply to those of us that are in the “quasi” geek realm — we don’t do a lot of coding but are involved in the structure and internals of internet, intranet, portal sites.
A point I would add is to allow your geek to provide a solution that works! I’m encountering business users (upper management) that insist that they know the solution and that it must be done that way — even if there is another approach. These are people who refuse to discuss or view any ideas, current features, approaches outside of the their prescribed solution.
I completely agree with the point about allowing tools needed. I have encountered this problem in my current organization. Our network is, of neccessity tightly secured. I fully appreciate the need to test and research new applications to be sure that they will not present virii, malware or other nasties. It is also undestandable that we must run new and updated applications in a test environment prior to deployment. However, the rules can become so binding that common sense is abandoned. I requested a *free* open source application to experiment with putting our taxonomy into XML. This was THREE months ago. They insisted upon runing it in a test environment, even though I would only run the application locally. There is only one place you can download it, you can communicate directly with the programmer and there is no budget issue. I had to fill out a canned form that insisted upon answers that are not applicable because this is a free application. There are, in some organizations, too many templated processes and not enough intelligent interaction.
I also encounter issues in retaining the applications I need. Our organization has a policy of removing users from licenses if they have not used an application for x time. This seems to be related to cost cutting measures more than security. While this makes sense on paper — it doesn’t work for me. I have to be able to open and manipulate any file I recieve for our digital library. Since I may only see 2 of those particular files a year, I inevitably appear on the IT list of “users that do not need x application”. Thank goodness my administrator is supportive and will argue with IT on my behalf.
However, I disagree with the way the list generalizes what drive geeks. Too many of our own Information Services and Technology Services people have not kept up to date and are unfamiliar with some of the new approaches and technologies. I am including all facets of information services, such as: programmers, developers, network engineers and security engineers. I have not encountered many employees that actively stay aware of developments in related fields. For example, I’ve stayed on top of the development of AJAX — I’m not a programmer, but it will affect my selection decisions in the future. I stay on top of new security issues: I create crawlers and feel I need to understand network security. I am not an expert in any of these things, by any means! But, it does seem that not all geeks are curious. Perhaps not all techies are geeks? Perhaps past experiences with managers that discouraged creativity and experimentation stifled their curiousity?
One of my favorite librarian bloggers, Meredith is thinking about KM needs in her organization.
Knowledge management in a growing and change averse organization
Clearly, though, the solution to these problems is not so simple as creating an Intranet or a wiki or whatever. There has to be a real change in culture or people won’t use the tools they are given. That’s really where the managers have to come in. Management style is so crucial to KM. The way you manage people will make them more or less likely to share what they know.
What Meredith is looking for is to simply get all of the information she and the copyright checker need in order to ensure that students have access to materials they need for classes.
Jack has an idea that might be less threatening by requesting the information in a format familiar to the staff and faculty. However, setting any requirement or standard still requires effort and change on their part.
Unfortunately, there are those that simply do not like change of any kind. I used to completely resent these types of people. However, I have come to learn that they can serve as brakes to slow down those of us at the other end of the spectrum. They make me stop and think — what am I trying to accomplish? Is this the only, or even the best approach? What can I keep from what they are used to?
I too have encountered change resistance. I have encountered those who will insist upon doing things in an unbeliably awkward and inefficient manner. In my experience, I have found there is usually a reason (often political, social, psychological or all three).
Meredith also points out that many people view their specialized knowledge as a form of job security. That is an issue that I think trips up every KM and/or collaborative organization and/or learning organization approach. This is a hold over from the 20th century, industrial viewpoints that said that people are cogs and are replacble. Couple this background idea with the request to share information, and you can understand why some people will resist!
From Geek News Central:
Geek News Central Revealing Technical News and useful links
Paid Product Evangelist that hide they are getting Paid
I have a friend that is a pretty popular blogger, and I asked him today why he had been talking about a certain product so much. He confided in me that he was being paid to be a product evangelist. When I told him that I had never heard him disclose that he was getting paid to evangelize the product he said that his contract had forbid him from disclosing this.
This is insane, especially considering how bloggers have been working so hard to be given journalistic rights! Ethical journalists are expected to disclose any possible conflicts of interest.
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Ok, a bit off topic. But, i often think and read about how old media such as newspapers, magazines and marketing are dealing with the 21st century.
It might come from my experiences as a Communications major that focused upon PR. The ideal of PR that I was taught was that you do what is best for the organization's image. Often, that means being honest and upfront. Focus upon solutions not upon excuses. But…how often does (and did) that happen?
However, the new paradigm of the 21st centure is a culture that has stood things on it's head. The web has provided an easy, quick way for people to share information and experiences. How often have we seen executives and politicians swear "I didn't say that"? They are still doing it…and obviously keep forgetting that our tools now allow us to not only store old footage — but to better find and retrieve what we want. I guess I'm not so far off topic — information retrieval is one of my passions after all!
An empowered public has become weary of one way ads that talk at them and increasingly cynical of claims made by those who want money and power. They are tuning out, turned off.
One major marketing co. seems to really get it — and they are helping a their clients along the way. In this particular case, Dunkin Donuts I came across the Hill Holiday blog via Slate's ongoing series of Ad Report Card. Brilliant! They really get it. Here is their blurb about the blog:
About the blog
Yep, we've read all the headlines, digested all the stats. The foundations of mid-20th century marketing are eroding all around us.
So what are we going to do about it?
Michael is responding to one of my comments:
MPOW is in the process of implementing a new telephony system that will include all employees — not just call center agents. This software adds VOIP, headsets, presence awareness and messaging for all employees. These are disruptive features that will require quite a bit of training. I know that if it could have been done incrementally — it would be better accepted. Yet — how can one do this in this example?
Michael posts: Great question and one that, in my opinion, illustrates that no matter how hard we try to integrate change into our regular organizational structure we will at some point always face moments of disruptive change. Disruptive change is not always bad! The situation you describe, moving to VOIP telephony, will be good in the long run. There may be growing pains, certainly, but the end result should prove the effort worthwhile.
But moving to a VOIP system is not something that is planned overnight, and it is this sort of big move that can benefit from having a structure already in place that allows an organization to implement change smoothly and with as little stress placed upon customers and staff as possible.
Read the full text, I'm only including snippets!
There are many ways to integrate change into an organization’s structure, but my favorite way to is to create an environment where customers and staff are involved in facilitating change and maintaining the ability to change at all levels.
Michael makes a good point that even a large project does not come "out of the blue" and will generate a better rate of change if multiple levels of stakeholders are involved in the process. In this case, it comes down to the work environment and leadership style. If the environment is not open and transparent, it is more difficult to implement Michael's very good suggestions. (more…)