Céline Schillinger – Podcast with Edwin Morris
This was part of a series of podcasts entitled Because You Need to Know, which is available via the RealKM site. This is a site run in Australia and it’s well worth paying the Patreon subscription because you gain a lot of useful information from it. As well as access to some good KM papers.
I’ve added some thoughts in italics
I hadn’t been aware, that. Céline is a knight in France and had just won the Jay Cross Memorial Award.
One of the key people that Céline has worked with in the past is Myron Rogers. She’s worked with him for many years, and he wrote the foreword to her book.
Céline, went on to say that Organisations need to evolve in the ways that they work to reduce worker frustration.
Most workers feel that they are constrained and don’t have an opportunity to use their innate. Creative skills. This is most relevant when you think about the digital revolution- this has empowered consumers but hasn’t fully translated to the workplace. Céline highlights social changes and demographics over the last 30 years
For example, speaking personally, I come from the generation that basically did follow orders., whether this is result of being an English boarding school or just my own personality
An interesting comment that Céline makes is that we all have to be change agents. If you’re in a unionised workforce, it’s not just relying on the unions to drive change because. She pointed out that occasionally unions often can be unwitting accomplices to the managerial status quo. Managers are the ancien regime who have worked their way often up through the system and now want to reap the rewards they may have worked 25 years for and want to maintain those privileges
We are also moving away from the leader as a saviour – the world is too complex for that nowadays – however in many organisations the workforce sits and waits for instruction. There is the paradox that organisations want people to be creative, but it must be within the rules. This comes up in the Liberty section below where we act in relation to our organisational position and power. In this by and large workers expect you to tell them what to do.
(I see this in some organisations and certain cultures in the world- perhaps people need to be able to be given forgiveness if they’ve tried something and it hasn’t worked. There is also the tyranny of time where a project has to be completed by X and there may not always be the time or the funding to be creative- important that we allow this time at say a project inception meeting.)
An interesting observation is how external ideas which may be more fluid – like agile becomes more mechanistic when they encounter a bureaucratic organisation – for example – if you are having a drive on diversity equality etc you need a department to manage it. (To a hammer everything is a nail.)
Céline then highlights some of the themes in her book. The aim is to highlight potential new pathways. It isn’t utopian as its based on her experiences and experiments over the last 30 years or so. It is based on:
- Liberty – (Universal Values)
(I was reminded of Arup’s Key Speech which sets out their values)
- Fraternity (through the building and operation of Communities)
Its about self-emancipation- and being willing to question- why am I being asked to do this. It also depends on managers to be humble enough to invite their workers to be more involved in the process, Céline highlights the work of Barry Oshry and the concept of moving from systems blindness to systems sight.
Highlights that more often that not people checked out their brains at the door and didn’t speak up if there were issues.
(This has always been a phenomenon – but I wondered if we are seeing it again under the banner of quiet resignation – or if there is a recession- you follow the old head down ass up don’t rock the boat approach.)
We need to have a movement of volunteerism and to use our innate creativity not only for ourselves but also in the service of our business
Also, with liberty come Trust- we are all in this together.
(If Covid has taught us nothing then its by and large you can trust the majority of your work force to deliver without being micromanaged).
People resent domination and can seek these opportunities via networks be they technical or in their day-to-day work.
Céline isn’t an anarchist and recognises that there does need to be some hierarchy- but that it needs to make space. In effect using Kotter’s work a dual operating system
(Macs for the Creativity and Windows for the hierarchy)
Though an organisation isn’t a machine it is perhaps preferrable to see it as a living creature.
Benefit from the diversity of thought it can offer
(though they can slip into groupthink)
It works on the view that by and large people want to work and collaborate together.
(Though I’m always reminded of Sartre’s phrase that hell is being with other people though perhaps he meant it to be other people are hell for us if our relationships with them are bad.)
The communities can be a driver of innovation and with engaged people who want to be there. Not everyone will want to be there though if they see that their peers are enjoying their work then they are most likely then to participate. They do need space as some managers can see communities as a threat to their position because it is outside of their control
(but also can span boundaries within the organisation)
Communities are volunteers and you need to invite not conscript them. Also, by using the community you can open up your own creativity by it providing confidence that you can do things differently
(the community as a safe place to test out ideas.)
As Céline says about KM its about using the community and the people in it to want to share knowledge
(and then apply it to your work).[Céline’s notes: warm thanks to Andrew for his active listening and insightful comments; and to Edwin for the interview! Love these conversations]