Our chat about the shadow side of organisations branches off here into looking at the role played by Knowledge Management (and Human Resources) in organisations. What part do they play in managing the shadow side of the business?
Annette starts this off with some teasing questions about Knowledge Management which provokes a little outburst from me against some of its pretensions. For those who enjoy my Dr Rant posts here’s a chance to hear what he actually sounds like.
For me the best bit comes about 7 minutes in, when Annette asks: what’s useful to an organisation about having a department to bully? Another highlight is Matt’s suggestion of Knowledge Courtesan as an alternative name for a Knowledge Manager.
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Here are the show notes with the same caveat as for part one: The timings are approximate and this is my paraphrasing of what was said. Don’t take them it too literally. This was a conversation and not as linear as even these rough notes might suggest.
0.00 Annette asks Matt, with what I’d say is a slight sense of irony in her voice, what knowledge management really is. Is it a gatekeeper? It sounds like a very powerful position…
1.00 Matt says knowledge managers don’t wield a lot of power but they do wield influence. It’s about linking people together. Matt toys with the alternative label of “knowledge courtesan”. Some of the best knowledge managers were those women who ran the salons in eighteenth century France, who created environments for others to have conversations in.
2.50 It struggles with issues of control and secrecy.
3.05 Johnnie and Annette banter before Johnnie slips into Dr Rant mode. (So that’s the connection to the shadow, then.) What’s the problem with these knowledge management people? Are they just trying to raise their status with fancy language? Johnnie drags HR into the fight too.
5.15 Annette asks if Johnnie’s feeling better now.
5.25 Matt talks about how some professions are marginalised, and adds communications/PR to the list. In organisations some divisions have the power and everyone else wants a piece of the action and get into the limelight.
6.25 Annette: how did we end up vilyfying HR etc?
6.35 Johnnie tries to put his rant in context. (Nice try.)
7.10 How could the put-upon divisions be more in their power? Annette asks (great question): what’s useful about having a department to bully? How does that contibute to the established power systems in an organisation?
Annette talks about how HR can get stuck with giving out the bad news for others. Maybe HR, marketing and KM are saddled with trying to manage the mucky stuff of relationships that others don’t want to deal with.
8.55 What role does knowledge manager take up as a gate keeper? Matt responds. Problems of managing intangibles. How KM gets saddled with document management.
10.25 Annette: so there’s some truth to my idea of knowledge managers as gatekeepers.
11.15 There’s anxiety about control of information.. is it about controlling identity?
12.00 We can create the conditions in which stuff is produced but we can’t control what happens. It’s easy to blame the gatekeeper/scapegoat than look at what’s really going on. How do you get out of being the whipping boy? Looking at both sides of this – what’s the “problem department” doing to put itself in this role, and what’s the organisation’s investment in keeping it there?
14.20 Bringing conversation to a close and marking the anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s death.