Finding myself situated between two very linked courses, I’m surprised at how much of my focus these days is on how we perform in positions of leadership in the organizations where we’re employed. Just completed teaching – with my colleague Dale Stanley – a course in measurement and metrics for knowledge services, and next Tuesday we move on to The Knowledge Director: Competencies and Skills.
So it makes a certain kind of sense to be thinking about what some of our responsibilities are, if we’re employed in a management position. As managers, we have responsibility both for supervising the knowledge services business unit and for establishing metrics about how well service delivery is implemented. It’s a big job.
When I’m thinking about these things, quite naturally I take a look at some of the Drucker ideas I have been exposed to and come to the conclusion that these two directions are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are very much bound together, and the best thing I can find to demonstrate how measurement and management link up in the knowledge services environment is Drucker’s comments about decision-making (and coincidentally the excerpt included in today’s page of The Daily Drucker just happens to be given over to describing the elements of the decision process). The connecting link – from my perspective – has to do with two concepts that form the baseline for decision-making and at the same time lead to that goal all executives strive for. The first is to know when a decision is necessary. The second is to build implementation and effectiveness into the decision-making process.
As effective executives, knowledge leaders recognize that measuring performance and the connecting knowledge strategy and business strategy are critical factors in their list of criteria for success. Whether they are designated – as continues to be the case in some few companies and organizations – as the company’s “chief knowledge officer” or whether they are knowledge professionals with management and service delivery responsibility for a single knowledge-focused business unit, knowledge managers recognize that they must follow Drucker’s first rule: know when a decision is required. For many of us, beauty of our academic learning leads us to make attempts to “move forward,” to see if we can’t do something better, just because we can visualize just – as the old phrase has it – “how good it can be.” But judgment and caution are sometimes called for, not to inhibit our desire for innovation but to determine if the situation – the predicament we’ve identified – requires a decision at this point in time.
So the first question to ask, if the knowledge services director is going to be effective, is simply this: “Is the decision necessary?” If it is, and if we go through the decision-making process (Drucker recommends that we define the problem carefully, then think through what the right decision would be, and understand that some level of compromise might be necessary), we move on to planning out how we will implement the decision and how we will determine the decision’s effectiveness – how we’ll measure its success.
It all seems pretty clear-cut, doesn’t it? I wonder if we can come up with a scenario or two that demonstrates how we put Drucker’s decision-making “elements” into practice in the KM/knowledge services workplace. Examples and experiences are welcome.