Handling ideas to improve performance

Jul 05 2006 by Janet Howd Print This Article

According to Accenture's recent High Performance Workforce Study, organisations that want to be situated in the upper performance league are going to have to spend time and money on the "effective capture and sharing of knowledge."

Hold on to that idea of capturing knowledge: because if we did, literally, capture ideas on file cards and held onto them as we shuffled them around and mulled over their contents we'd be much more likely to separate vacuous ideas from valuable ones.

Handling thoughts imbues them with spatial qualities. Written down on cards, ideas can be stacked, shuffled, laid down, turned over, mulled over, reshuffled and dealt out in any number of ways until those that are worth retaining emerge.

Unfortunately, since computer packages took the physical hassle out of looking good in print, the mixing and matching of ideas which is crucial to high quality, innovative outcomes too often gets lost in a skitter of keyboard frenzy to get stuff on to slides and into presentations.

It's amazing how imposing complete tosh can seem once it is well packaged and presented.

Slick formats fool people into thinking that because the information looks elegant it must be worth having. Never mind the fact that bullet points bouncing off belly buttons is about the nearest thing to a gut reaction such trite material ever provokes.

By contrast, ideas that have been tussled with, sifted and put through a bit of rough stuff when thrown down in frustration, often reveal intuitive connections and trigger the flow of creative juices when gathered together in a new configuration.

If the key to capturing knowledge lies in shuffling the cards, the effective sharing of knowledge lies in the ability of experienced players to lay out and explain their hand to any one who comes to the table.

The study by Accenture suggests that executives believe that such trainers are in short supply.

Could this perceived scarcity be because shadowing - which tends to be willingly paid for when executives need help - is not seen as key to empowering employees further down line.

Without proper awareness of the culture of the organisation their clients hail from, how can experienced practitioners effectively share the knowledge they own. How can they induct clients to best effect into new processes, let alone persuade them to have the courage to leave the order of the familiar, go through the chaos which absorbing new ideas entails, and be assured that the new order will eventually become the norm?

A few file cards with information on 'best practice for learning' set out on each Senior Executive's desk might just do the trick.