This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

We are responsible, and yet ...

Who's Responsible, Who's to Blame

[Update: I can't believe I forgot the post that got me thinking like this - see below]

What are professionals responsible for?  How does management help bring the most out of those professionals?  Several recent articles on diverse topics have me thinking about this.  It's always interesting to me when this happens in my mind.  Here are my threads:

  1. Last week I wrote about the Manager Tools piece on the responsibility of people to do the work AND report status and progress.  It's the responsibility of the professional to report their status, but this doesn't happen without explicit direction and guidance from management. 
  2. Earlier in July Nick Milton wrote about the responsibility within knowledge management and the idea that "KM is everyone's responsibility."  This takes off on a 1997 piece by Tom Davenport on the "Common pitfalls of KM" from CIO Magazine (anyone have electronic source?).  They discuss the idea that while everyone should be doing KM (or Safety or Financial management), there are roles and accountabilities that are needed to help oversee the overall effort and tweak the process / tools as needed. 
  3. And then this TOC animated video about Overcoming Resistance to Change comes out and a discussion on one of the TOC mailing lists runs around whether it is the right approach.  I made a connection to Great Boss Dead Boss (my review) with the fact that not only must we deal with "What's in it for me" but we must also ensure security and value of the collective / group / tribe is maintained or improved.
  4. Yesterday's discussion of styles (generational or otherwise) ties in here too.  Individuals need to be responsible for seeking out the information and people they need to learn on the job.  But left to themselves, they don't necessarily seek out the right people and information.  They may not even know who to talk to or where to look.  Management are there to help create the right conditions and situations to facilitate that.
  5. And today, Dan Keldsen pointed out Carl Frappaolo's post about junk in the ECM and ReadWriteWeb's article on Error and Accuracy in E2.0 systems.  I already commented on RWW, but this article inspired all these connections.  Here we have information systems which accumulate lots of crud over time.  In my mind, rather than expecting the software to solve a problem, I think we need to adjust our perceptions and find ways to do a better job of gardening.  In other words, we need to set up the right structures for people to deal with the fact that there is imperfect information in the world, whether that be in a book or something found in the corporate intranet.

So how does it all tie together? 

Individuals have their jobs to do, and they may know the right thing, but if the larger organization doesn't provide the right level of direction, it is difficult for the individual to follow through.  There is some back and forth here too.  Leaders (whether by role or by action) also need to help the groups act in the right direction, providing direction and guidance that will help the whole group grow and strengthen.  For leaders, this may even include the designing of the groups that are desired by creating natural affinity point for people to gather around.  This also reinforces the right behaviors for individuals to maintain their own standing as individuals as well as members of those groups.

We are each responsible for our jobs - all pieces of it - and need to act with integrity.  Leadership / the organization need to create and maintain and correct conditions for groups and individuals, so that everyone can get on with their work.

[Photo: "Who's Responsible, Who's to Blame" by Thomas Hawk]

Lessons from implementation practice

Styles not generations