Beware the explicit

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Interesting post by David Wilcox – Why Manifestos Don’t Work. David quotes David Snowden’s aphorism

“We always know more than we can say, and we will always say more than we can write down.”

Large amounts of our implicit knowledge never make into the books and manuals which many organisations depend on to manage their lives. I have become antipathetic to long business books that seem to carry an implicit belief that the explicit is all we need to know. (See also my post The Tyranny of the Explicit)

The irony is that people often keep quiet about things they do know, especially about supposedly “negative” emotions like fear anger and boredom. Instead they make noise about stuff they don’t know but which sounds suitably rational. Which makes for safe but boring meetings. I see Mark at fouroboros has been in good ranting form on this:

Yep. We lie about our motives and mistakes and wrap them in piety and patriotism. Or in Powerpont? and bullshit ROI, TCO or rosy M&A forecasts or boardroom koolaid rallies. Hmmm. Wait a minute. Near 1/2 of the executive conversations I’ve participated in consist of nitty gritty, and the remainder is brainstorming sweet bows to wrap screw-ups or sniggering self-interest in. It’s kind of surreal, really like grandmothers earnestly knitting little woolly hats to pretty up those icky spare toilet rolls waiting their turn in the bathroom.

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