Know-it-all knows nothing!
26/06/2009 - "Know-it-all knows nothing!" by Donal Carroll
Easy isn't it, to point a finger...

Take the banks: Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, owing the US Government $10bn, has told staff they can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140 year history... (Observer 21 June) Now apart from the business model that guarantees bonuses to already highly paid staff... are we surprised?

It is as if the Banks are saying they have learned so much from their mistakes they want to make many more. One even claiming to be a learning organisation! But haven't they missed a stage? To be a learning organisation (or learn anything) isn't the first stage actually acknowledging mistakes!

I hope you weren't too entertained by that paragraph because it's all very obvious. External commentators (like me) claiming others don't learn. Implying it's easy, they don't, so what's the problem? Well, let's apply this to you –or me.

Recently we finished a challenging, stimulating consultancy assignment –exactly the sort of change-brief we thrive on. However, we ended abruptly, untidily, not feeling great. As experienced consultants we sat down and asked what have we learned. Lots, we noted. Mostly bromides. None of it making much sense –not 'value' sense anyway. So we reasserted the learning demand, said don't try harder, think harder.

Then richer, more divergent ideas emerged: an (ignored) invitation to shadow a senior manager for a day; an early recognition that developmental leverage alone was unlikely to succeed; the possible 'negative' messages we sent in how we constructed a range of activities; how to 'rescue' already risked positions, by taking more risk...

Maybe these were not key but they could have made a great difference. They were all missed because of our mindset –already knew that, already tried that. So, our new learning is: tentative signals require louder listening. And replacing 'our' with my new learning. As for the know-it-all –you can guess who that is.

Looks like I may have reached the first stage of learning!

Visitors' Comments on this Post

01/07/2009 Comment posted by GP
see They have learnt that creating dependance is their lifeblood, and now, witness their drive to buy out Govt bale out funding,learnt to increase their room for manouevre & independance by moving back to 'deregulation' - the good old days, and give bonusses to who ever and whenever they chose. Who are the loosers here, us or them? Is real learning the holy grail of some management consultancies or is it four legs bad two legs good? pip pip if I have found the right blog!!! old fellah

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