Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…
It seems like an age since I last blogged, but, after fulfilling a promise to my wife and not doing any work during our first holiday in three years, I’m back…
I’m currently putting a new toolkit together for an organisation we are working with in the US and I thought I would share with you our O.P.I.E (Organisation, Process, Individual and Environment) congruence tool. I developed this as a macro KM diagnostic/visualisation tool to stimulate discussion on the scope/scale of Knowledge Management challenges in the organisation. This isn’t highbrow science, just common sense that is often overlooked and sometimes an organisation just needs something simple to stimulate a moment of realisation.
Organisations looking to develop knowledge based advantage (informing dynamic capacity, agility and adaptive capability) need to find alignment between the needs of the organisation as it positions itself in the marketplace (the environment), the processes that bind these organisational needs with the needs, and agency, of the individuals who fall within the organisation’s boundaries. Organisations that find congruence between these four elements (Congruence Conditions – see below) are on the path to success.
The following are examples of four basic conditions that occur when congruence is not maintained.
Extinction conditions: Where all four components decouple the organisation cannot survive. It doesn’t align with the needs of the environment it transacts in, the people within the organisation do not align with its needs and nor are their needs, or agency, as knowledge resources, considered. Processes fail to bind the elements together and the organisation is primed for extinction. We have seen this once over the last four years and the organisation was out of business within twelve-months.
Leadership failure conditions: The people within the boundary of the organisation align with its perceived, but misguided, needs and their agency, as knowledge resources, is considered. Processes have been designed that align individuals with the organisation (harmonisation occurs at individual, group, team, department and divisional level). However, the organisation does not align with the environment it transacts in. The market has moved on, the organisation has drifted and is probably experiencing diminishing returns. The organisation is going to have to go through a period of punctuated equilibrium to realign. The problem being that if the change is not managed correctly there will be a total decoupling and the organisation could move towards extinction conditions.
Process failure conditions: This is the failure condition that we find to be most significant within the organisations we work with. The organisation aligns with its environment, consideration is given to ensuring the right individuals are brought within the boundaries of the organisation and their needs and agency, as knowledge resources, are given consideration. However, problems with process failures reduce efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to the acquisition, storage, sharing, use and development of knowledge resources (process flows are disrupted, to varying degrees, at individual, group, team, department and divisional level – the disturbances at one level do not sit in isolation, but instead create a cascading impact). This has a significant impact on the agility and adaptive capacity of the organisation.
Resource failure conditions: The second most significant failure condition that we encounter. Here the organisation aligns with its environment and has even developed appropriate processes for the acquisition, storage, sharing, development and use of knowledge resources. However, the needs of the individuals within the organisation are overlooked, which can often present itself as process failure, but, upon closer scrutiny, it is the individual need that is being overlooked. The expectation on the part of the organisation is one where the individual will function as a resource, without understanding the agency of the individual as a knowledge resource.
I hope this helps visualise your challenges, get in touch and let me know your thoughts.