Copyright © 2004-08 KMCI
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Distance Learning Workshop 8: The Open Enterprise: A Strategic Vision for Knowledge Management
Organizations are born free, but everywhere
they are in chains – chains forged from constraints on who within them is
authorized to detect and recognize problems, propose solutions, and criticize,
test and evaluate ideas once they have been proposed. Mostly, as organizations
develop, they increasingly confine problem detection, solution formulation, and
the critical process of testing and evaluating new ideas to a small decision
making elite. This results in mistakes in recognizing some problems and outright
failures to recognize others. It results in the emergence of fewer and lower
quality solutions. And, finally, it results in solutions that produce unintended
consequences that may threaten the very existence of the organizations whose
adaptive processes are constrained.
Thus, Enron adopts a solution to the problem of maximizing its market value that, after initial success, in the end destroys nearly all of its market value. And it does so, in great part, because it hides critical details of its market strategy from employees and Board Members alike, and concentrates knowledge of it within a very small band of insiders. Similar stories apply to Worldcom, Tyco, Global Crossing, and many, many others. For these companies, steering the course of adaptation was relegated to the hands of a few in relatively closed conditions. Learning and the adoption of new knowledge was restricted to small groups within top management. Stockholders and other parties were excluded, even though their vested interest in the quality of knowledge produced and integrated into practice in these firms was enormous.
Knowledge Processing in such firms is carried out by innovation oligarchies, whose tight fisted control over the power to produce and adopt ideas is only exceeded by their authority to compel their subordinates to carry them out. This is a recipe for letting our worst ideas live until they kill the organizations that originate them.
The reality is that successful, and sustainable, adaptation is driven by distributed Knowledge Processing, characterized by individuals whose self-organizing patterns create organizational knowledge in an atmosphere of openness in problem recognition, solution formulation, and solution evaluation. The type of organization that is characterized by such agents operating in such an atmosphere, whether private or public, is called The Open Enterprise. An Open Enterprise can sustain innovation, maintain integrity, and reduce errors and risk. In this workshop you will learn about this normative model for organizations, its propensity to produce these key benefits, and the practical, incremental, strategy that can get you to it, producing benefits at every step along the way.
The Workshop Syllabus is available here.
The Workshop is taught by Joseph M. Firestone, Ph.D. Dr. Firestone's credentials are available here.
Text and other materials for the workshop include:
Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy (2003) Excerpt #1 from The Open Enterprise: Building Business Architectures for Openness and Sustainable Innovation, Hartland Four Corners, VT: KMCI Online Press, available at: http://www.dkms.com/papers/
Joseph M. Firestone's forthcoming book, Riskonomics: Reducing Risk by Killing Your Worst Ideas (.pdf file)
Firestone, J. and McElroy, M. (2005), “Doing Knowledge Management,” The Learning Organization, Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 189-212.) This is an Emerald Journal and is available online for a fee. A pre-publication version is available at: http://www.kmci.org/media/Doing_KM.pdf
In addition, a set of extensive course notes will be provided, and a
Certificate of Workshop Completion will be issued upon completion of this Workshop.
The Workshop is available weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can reserve it one week or earlier from the date you want to take it. After that time, you may still be able to enroll in the Workshop, if others have already scheduled it. But if it hasn't been scheduled, you still may not be able to enroll if another workshop has been scheduled for the same day. Register here for The Open Enterprise Workshop.