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Henley: The unconscious at work

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 25, 2010  ·  Conference blogs

201002251138.jpg  Daan Andriessen a Netherlands based professor of Intellectual Capital. Arguing the need to look at what is happening in organistions beneath the system (the iceberg picture is shown). Another metaphor, the surface current and the under current. The under current comes from human need for connectivity, recognition, safety, respect based on intuition, creativity, instinct, emotion etc. But how to study the under current?Assume you have a team with three people. The first is Anita a librarian, who wants everything to be perfect, is a critical parent, hates sloppiness and is angry. The second is Arjen, an ICT specialist who tries hard, dominated by fear, an apaptive child and allergic to lazy people. The final is Henk a HR specialist who wants to please others, dominant emotion is happiness is a adaptive child and allergic to people who are impersonal. [a surfeit of steriotyping categories here]. Finishes there but just says that the problem in the organisation is like that for the team. References Victor's negative talk from yesterday.

Back to the undercurrent again [I hope we are going to get something other than description before we end]. More metaphors, currents range from thermohaline to turbidity, each has an equal number of causes and functions. Ocean currents are caused by temperature differences, so what is the temperature in your organisation, what is the salt content, the spiciness; turbidity is the haziness of a fluid caused by individual particles, so which particles in your organisation determine the under current.


201002251151.jpg Argues that most of the research into under currents sees them as negative {{dubious}} and he wants them to be seen as positive. Somehow (not sure how) we then get onto Maslow's hierarchy. [I'm never sure why people still use this given the degree to which it has been discredited, Vroom is much better given the incorporation of expectations]. Good point on the way in which general rules can be used to avoid individual confrontation [first real insight and worth it]. [Arguing that KM is self-actualising is aspiration at best, absurdly idealist at worst].

Screen shot 2010-02-25 at 11.48.35.png Now to the drama triangle (his second model) from transactional analysis shown, this is his second model. He elaborates a story of people moving around the triangle. Valuable point that everyone gets a lot of attention with the game, and also its another way of avoiding dealing the the individual. Soap operas are built around this pattern.

Kampen (2007) seeing commonalities between raising children and managing professions. Creates a long list of characteristics of a neglected organisation [going to fast for me to capture] over 14 and the assumptions is that the more present the more neglected you are. [I am very dubious about this, in my experience all the 14 characteristics listed are present to a degree in all organisations. The danger here is lack of context, lack of understanding of flow and expectation, per my Maslow comment]. This leads to the leadership model on the right.


Screen shot 2010-02-25 at 12.02.05.png

  • Uninvolved is neglecting
  • Authoritarian reaction is a repair style with a risk of fake adjustments
  • Permissive is risk of spoiling neglect
  • The best is a authoritative [has to be its the top right quadrant!], a curing style but only to be used on a case by case basis

SO, why does KM not work?

  • basic needs not met
  • people caught in games
  • people have been neglected for years
  • suppressed emotions
  • not enough positive and negative conditional strokes are given and the two are not in balance

So what do I think?

Metaphors are good ways to initiative perspective shifting conversations, but they can be taken too far. Also metaphor is a much richer intervention mechanism, better to do something more substantial. I am now thinking of salt mines hence the picture (that is one of the metaphor downsides). Some interesting insights from the leadership model, but this is all focused individuals and ideal behaviour. The models are hierarchical and categorizing in nature. The actions are aobut moving to an ideal future. We need to start managing the Now not some ideal future.