management must move first

This morning I gave a presentation at the IOM Summit on digital work. My topic was — Digital Work is all about human connections. The key messages are ones that have been presented here.

digital is all about human connection

I focused on the systemic barriers to getting work done and sharing knowledge between workers, more so than the individual skills necessary for work that requires — curiosity, sensemaking, cooperation, and novel thinking. These are skills that can be developed through the discipline of personal knowledge mastery.

I did not dwell on individual skills. If the organization is open to fostering more creative work and enabling cooperation across siloes, then individual skills will emerge through peer influence. People want to learn, especially if their work depends on it. This does not mean that people want to take more courses.

As W. Edwards Deming noted many years ago from his extensive observations and experience — 94% of work performance issues are a result of the system, not the capabilities of workers. This was the focus of my talk, even though I did not want to infer that developing individual skills does not take time and effort.

As Lilia Efimova noted in 2004, “To a great extent PKM [personal knowledge management] is about shifting responsibility for learning and knowledge sharing from a company to individuals and this is the greatest challenge for both sides.” This is true today. Taking responsibility for our own learning can be a challenge when we have been trained and educated to learn only what we are are told to. However, the power resides in the organization and its management. They have to move first.

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