Learnlets
Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

23 February 2007

Know-Why

Clark @ 2:49 pm

As I look at the larger picture (I’ve been reading Verna Allee’s books on Value Networks; great stuff), I’ve been thinking about the type of organizations we need. One of the rubrics is that it’s no longer about ‘know-how’, but about ‘know who’, since what we need to know how to do is no longer static. We need to be able to do new things and we need to ‘know-who’ can help us. Which is all true, but even if you know what you need to do, you may not be as well-equipped to perform as if we include another factor.

I first heard David Batstone talk about his book Saving The Corporate Soul at an eLearning Forum meeting in downtown San Francisco. I’ve become a subscriber to his ezine and enjoy his regular columns on ways in which corporations are and can be (or are not) socially responsible, as well as the other work he points to.

In his most recent edition, he points to a piece of work talking about “know why”. The point is that even if workers know what to do, if they don’t know why they’re doing it, they’re not going to perform as well.

This ties into organizational vision and values. In Financial Times (I think, I read it in transit to/from Norway), someone was talking about how business goals are more than platitudes about strategy, but instead you need to know what you’re doing and why it’s the right thing. The CEO has to be about more than cold logic, but have a vision, and an organization has to communicate it’s passion throughout the enterprise. This isn’t core values unless it’s lived (I worked for an organization that talked about three core values, and then reliably violated one in dealing with employees!).

The Cluetrain Manifesto tells us that lack of authenticity will come back to haunt an organization, and I think that, in addition to other factors, unless employees live and breathe the organizational values, the company is doomed. Values-driven performance will trump sheer smart execution (it’s simple Wisdom after all).

2 Comments

  1. I take that as a recommendation to buy Verna’s book? I was considering buying it quite soon, as the concepts interest me.

    Comment by Harold Jarche — 23 February 2007 @ 3:24 pm

  2. Absolutely!

    Comment by Clark — 15 May 2007 @ 8:40 am

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