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Knowledge Turns: A Quick Check

Industrial Era companies focused upon increasing their "inventory turns", the rate at which they transform raw materials into finished products.

In the Knowledge Era, manufacturing and service companies, non-profits and governmental agencies need to focus on how well we transform raw ideas into finished products and services. Our "knowledge turns" rate is a decisive indicator of our long term success.

In working with many companies around the world, we have found two decisive elements that indicate an organization's position in its journey into the Knowledge Era:

  • Our ability to build upon the strengths of others
  • The level of trust in our organization

First, how well are the people in your organization able to build upon the talents and knowledge of their colleagues, be they in the same group, other functions, other lines of business, or in supplier, customer or customers' customers organizations?

Second, what is the level of trust among and between people in these different elements of business life?

Why are these critical?

The Industrial Era has generated a problem finding culture. We focus on what does not work in order to make it better. Too often we also focus on what our colleagues can't do, their weaknesses and mistakes, instead of seeing and appreciating their strengths.

The Industrial Era, with its hierarchy, has created a sense of scarcity. Either you reach the next level or I do. Therefore, I have to watch you closely, noting all your weakness, so that I might have a better chance of moving up the ladder.

These two elements lead to caution and distrust. I am not going to let you know my mistakes, uncertainties and questions, because you might use them against me.

Yet, a focus on weaknesses and the ensuing distrust means that our organization and the people have less access to one another's knowledge, insights and experience than should be the case.

Try an experiment. First, look at the scale that runs from .1 to 10. The middle, 1, is neither good nor bad. The numerator on top focuses on "finding weakness" or "finding strengths." The denominator on bottom focuses on the level of "trust" or "distrust."

In general, do the people in your organization generally tend to looks for weakness in one another or their strengths? If they tend more to look for weaknesses, you might choose .4 or .6. If they look more for strengths, you might pick 3, 5 or 8.

And in general, what is the level of trust between individuals, is it positive, then you would choose .8, .5, .3 or any other number along this scale. If it is negative, and there is more distrust, then you would pick 3, 5, 6 or 9, etc.

Do these same things for the way departments interact with one another and their level of trust.

Continue with the lines of business in your organization (if there is more than one business), and also include suppliers, customers and your customers' customers.

The interactive form will graph the results. To see the results on an absolute scale, push the "Absolute" button.

If your results are below 10 or 15, there is enormous opportunity for improvement in the way your organization uses its knowledge. You are not alone, because most companies come in under 10 across the six elements.

What would it take to get people in your organization to look for the strengths in one another instead of the weaknesses? And what would it take to increase the level of trust in the organization?

Try the interactive form now!

We would like to hear your ideas. Please send us an e-mail on ways to answer these questions.

charles.savage@kee-inc.com or sundrum@ecultureteam.com .

If you wish, let us know what you thought as you looked at your scores. No record is kept of anyone’s scores. We would be glad to send you a PowerPoint slide which shows where most companies stand on this scale.

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