David Kay is one of the best knowledge management consultants (if not best consultants) I’ve known. As anyone who knows him will attest, David’s one of the few consultants that ‘gets it’. Real change in organizations, particularly with knowledge management, is not as much about technology implementation as it is about process transformation. And, process transformation rarely happens unless there is an organizational culture that is amenable to change.
Over at his blog, David has an excellent post about warning signs he’s seen in corporate cultures over the last decade of consulting. While he’s focused on the knowledge sharing process, the post could apply to just about any corporate transformation effort. Representing the technology vendor’s point of view in many instances, I found myself nodding with each of his eleven points, especially point number eleven:
11. A lousy work environment, food service, and coffee. Look, we’re not all going to work in the Googleplex with free gourmet lunches and company-branded ice cream treats. But we spend a lot of time at work, and our mental state there matters, and our heads are influenced by our environment. (There’s a reason they spent so much time building cathedrals in the Middle Ages.) If I go to an office building that’s dingy, dreary, sterile, and cut off from natural sunlight, I know something. If the coffee service comes out of 1950s-style glass carafes and hotplates with generic pre-ground beans in foil packets, I know something. If people resign themselves to the depressing burger-and-fries or meatloaf options at the cafeteria, I know something. And if the company hasn’t spent the money for decent computers, double monitors, comfortable ergonomic chairs, and IT that works, I really know something. I know the company doesn’t really care about the employees, no matter what they say, and it’s going to be wickedly hard to get the team excited about taking on a new challenge.
The cafeteria comment made me laugh as I was reminded of a large company cafeteria I visited where there was a five cent up-charge to use plastic utensils (for EACH utensil). You can only imagine what the morale level was at that now defunct large company.
Check out David’s post, I’m certain it’ll remind you of places you’ve seen as well.
2 responses to “David Kay on knowledge sharing challenges”
Nitin – Thanks for the good words! Given the caliber of consulting you’ve done over the years, that really means a great deal.
Wouldn’t you love to spend time with the pricing guru who decided charging five cents for a plastic spoon made sense? (By which I mean, real sense, not ‘economic sense.’)
Oh well…lampooning a bad culture is the fun part. The hard part is making a good culture–I’m looking forward to working with you on that at the Consortium and with joint customers.
I bet the finance person who was responsible for calculating the ‘cost’ of each spoon had a bonus dependent on reducing spoon costs…rewarding the wrong metric, a chronic disease in organizations.