The 7 tests of worthwhile advice

The Chris Argyris book Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They're Getting Good Advice and When They're Not is an uncomfortable read. Mostly because it pretty much accuses all workers, and particularly managers, of being skillful liars!

But it's difficult to argue with his conclusions. Just one of the tidbits worth printing out and sticking on your wall as a constant reminder is Argyris' 7 tests for whether you are receiving worthwhile advice:

There are three tests for the validity of advice:

1) If implemented correctly, the advice leads to the consequences that it predicts will occur
2) The advice's effectiveness persists so long as no unforeseen conditions interfere, and
3) The advice can be implemented and tested in the world of everyday practice.

There are four tests for the actionability of advice:

1) The advice specifies the detailed, concrete behaviors required to achieve the intended consequences
2) The advice must be crafted in the form of designs that contain causal statements
3) People must have, or be able to be taught, the concepts and skills required to implement those causal statements, and
4) The context in which the advice is to be implemented does not prevent its implementation.

(paraphrased slightly for clarity)

The modern customer and the modern company

There was an important and insightful post from JP Rangaswami last week. JP is far ahead of me in incorporating the work of the recently-deceased Ronald Coase into his worldview (but I'm trying to catch up), and he absolutely nails why resilience and preparedness for change is increasingly essential to organisational survival:

My Upcoming Masterclass: 5th Annual National Records and Information Officers' Forum

I'm excited to announce that I will be delivering a Masterclass on "Developing a Roadmap for the 2015 Digitisation Target" for Liquid Learning's 5th Annual National Records and Information Officers' Forum on 21 February 2014.

Download full brochure

[If you're coming, tell me what you want out of the day]

The psychology of risk avoidance

This isn't a post about the NSA's extensive efforts to defeat any attempt to communicate securely over the Internet, although it may appear that way at first blush.

ICT is not always a source of productivity

One of the commonly-held beliefs of managers is that productivity improvements can be best done through the development and implementation of new or upgraded ICT systems. The McKell Productivity Report (2012) writes:

The Excellence Theory in PR and its relevance to KM

In 2006 James Grunig wrote a lengthy, somewhat self-congratulatory, but compelling summary of his and others' work in researching strategic public relations over four decades, resulting in what is known as the Excellence study.

The resulting article, Furnishing the edifice: Ongoing research on public relations as a strategic management function, is well worth a read. From a Knowledge Management perspective there were some very interesting echoes in some of his conclusions:

The Three Laws of Employment

Isaac Asimov, the legendary science-fiction author, famously invented the Three Laws of Robotics: a hierarchy of three rules which governed the behaviour of the robots in his stories:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov's laws served a narrative purpose: he needed to move his stories beyond the "Frankenstein" trope of robots turning on their master which was prevalent at the time. By ensuring that robots would always serve the best interests of their human masters (albeit as determined by the robots themselves), the impact of robots on society could be explored without worrying about their destructive capabilities.

[Have we considered the implications of the three Laws of Employment?]

Are staff costs or investments?

Do you agree or disagree with this tweet? ("They" refers to an organisation's staff.)


(Hat tip: Henry Blodget)

Do what I say, not what I do

Do what I say, not what I do

(View larger image.)

A brief follow-on to my earlier post about Bain & Co's Management Tools and Trends survey. Each of Bain & Co's surveys provide a very unusual source of data by asking managers to identify which management tools they currently use as well as ones they are forecasting they will use.

KM is dead ... long live Knowledge Management!

David Griffiths has noted that Knowledge Management is no longer one of the 25 most popular management tools as measured by Bain & Co's biannual Management Tools and Trends survey. In a post titled "Is KM relevant anymore?", David writes: