Meshing knowledge power and organizational power
The computer engineer who is steeped in the latest technology possesses knowledge power. The receptionist who knows the questions clients most frequently ask possesses knowledge power.
The people who shuffle resources and set budgets possess organizational power.
In ‘Only the Paranoid Survive,’ Andrew Grove of Intel writes about how hard his company worked to break down the walls between those with knowledge power and those with organizational power. He says promoting constant collaboration between people with the two powers creates the best solutions in the interest of both.
In a time of crisis
Whether it’s new competition, rapid growth or deterioration, this meshing of knowledge and organizational power is important for survival. You are trying to define what the organization will be and what the organization will not be. You need to let chaos reign to explore alternatives.
That’s respect and civility from both sides—those with deep knowledge but narrow focus and those with a larger organizational perspective who can set a context.
An organization that has a culture that can deal with these two phases—debate (chaos reigns) and a determined march (chaos reigned in)—is a powerful, adaptive organization.
Such an organization has two attributes:
1. It tolerates and even encourages debate. These debates are vigorous, devoted to exploring issues, indifferent to rank and includes individuals of varied backgrounds.
2. It is capable of making and accepting clear decisions with the entire organization then supporting the decision.