PKM trust, faith & fear

For the KB PKM workshop at KM Europe yesterday, I provided a teaser to get conversations going that originally was entitled “trust vs suspicion, faith vs fear…aaaaaagh the feelings” to get us talking about emotional responses to Knowledge Management and the implications for Personal Knowledge Management.

My motivation was really to get the conversation going at all as I’ve so often found that fear ends up being the ultimate barrier to change and to knowledge sharing but even talking about it is taboo in many corporate cultures.

The notes I scribbled before standing up to introduce the conversation went like this:

Fear as a barrier to change

Fear of: Discovery; Making mistakes; Ridicule; Victimisation; Loss of power; Loss of control; Telling the truth (where this is not the norm)

Isolation vs Connection

As I’ve often found with Open Space type events, it’s very difficult and probably not desirable to try to report in detail what we talked about. While we talked people were also putting thoughts on post-it notes which Ton promised to transcribe on the wiki, so the conversation might continue there.

The big insights for me were:

  • Very few people actually go to work intending to inspire fear in their team.
  • Some uber-gurus are quiet, shy and deferential
  • A lot depends on what your reward and value system is like (and I don’t mean PM Systems etc, I mean the more informal personal ones – how do I know from people around me whether I’m doing a good job)

What I wasn’t prepared for was for my definition of PKM to become the focus of the discussion and we ended up in a bit of a trial of my ideas on PKM rather than a broad discussion and I felt (perhaps wrongly, but I’m not sure) that people wanted me to give them the answer. I think this is entirely understandable in a situation where people are constantly bombarded with presentations where people stand up and say “I have the answer” I’m happy to say I don’t have *the* answer, but I have some possible answers and I’d love to keep having the conversation.

The bit I entirely forgot about – but perhaps we can talk about next time is how expressions of fear are not acceptable but expressions of anger are. I can’t remember which guru said that when people are being angry in the workplace s/he always asks “what are they afraid of?”