sábado, 6 de diciembre de 2003

Hoy creo que voy a estar un poco mejor informado. Habia caducado mi suscripcion a Financial Times on line y un teleoperador, en la lengua pura de la Reina Madre, me hizo una oferta que no podia dejar pasar: un año por 75 €!!.
Asi que, si alguien nos lee, va a poderse nutrir de "copy pastes" seleccionados del ft.com .
Y para muestra, una columna de mi admirada Lucy Kellaway, lista e ironica donde las haya, comentando un articulo de la HBR de noviembre, en donde señalan que la ignorancia, resulta a priori, mas interesante empresarialmente que el conocimiento, dado que es un bien escaso y una vez que se pierde.......(¿?). Dejemos de estudiar, dejemos de informarnos, todos al bar!!,

Lucy Kellaway: Blissful ignorance
By Lucy Kellaway
Financial Times
Published: November 30 2003 18:36

It is not often that reading the Harvard Business Review makes you feel better about yourself. But in the November issue there is an article that makes me sense my time has come at last.

Ignorance, it tells us, is the new knowledge. This is exciting news for people like me, who despite a lot of formal education and two decades' work experience, still know nothing at all. The scale of my ignorance was rammed down my throat a couple of weeks ago at a starry media quiz night when I was unable to answer a single question, save supplying the botanical name for a potato.

Now my self-hatred can stop. According to the HBR, ignorance is a precious resource that organisations should cherish. For the past 10 years companies have worshipped at the temple of knowledge: they have told us we are all "knowledge workers" and have devised knowledge management programmes run by chief knowledge officers. They should all be fired and replaced with chief ignorance officers.

The brain behind this theory is David Gray, director of Boston Consulting Group's Strategy Gallery. I can now come right out and admit I have never heard of his outfit. Saatchi Gallery, yes. Strategy Gallery, no.

Why Mr Gray is such a fan of ignorance is that he thinks knowledge encourages everyone to think in well worn ways. Ignorance allows us to be creative and to question things. His argument goes like this. Knowledge is everywhere; ignorance is a scarce resource. It is a one-shot thing: once ignorance has been displaced with knowledge it is hard to get it back.

As I said, ignorance is something I know a lot about, enough to confirm that it is something Mr Gray knows nothing about at all. Ignorance is not a scarce resource. It is as plentiful as air - it is in my own head, on the street, on the TV, at home, in the office. Neither is it precious. It is stupid. It is not a one-shot thing - ignorance gets displaced by knowledge and then comes back effortlessly. I find I learn something and then forget it again. The waters of ignorance close over only too quickly.

The author is aware that ignorance has some unfortunate connotations. So he has discovered the word "nescience" (never heard of that, either), which means the same but is without the negative brand values. He then provides a four-step guide to managing nescience. The principles are: Deferment, Prematurity, Irrelevance and Waste. I'll keep you in ignorance on exactly how these work. It would be better for you not to know.

If Mr Gray is anywhere near right in his general theory, it is very, very bad news for his employer, Boston Consulting Group, and all management consultants. The only excuse for employing consultants is that they have seen it all before and may know something about best practice. In this new ignorance-is-bliss world there is no place for consultants at all.

Hiding under all the nonsense about nescience is one - fairly obvious - truth. Managers should not get so hung up on knowledge that they think they know everything. They should recognise that the past may not be a guide to the future.

But this should come as no surprise - surely anyone with any knowledge knows all this already.

Mr Gray may be right that ignorance at work should be rehabilitated, but for quite different reasons. The problem with ignorance is how paranoid we all feel about letting ours show. We strive to look knowledgeable and are terrified that the scale of our ignorance will one day be found out and massive humiliation will follow. This fear is worse than the ignorance itself and leads to some pretty sick behaviour.

Instead of admitting when we do not know something, we bluff and bluster. Think of all those meetings you have sat through, in which everyone was interested only in demonstrating how much they knew. I remember going to grand boardroom lunches with colleagues at the FT when a chief executive of a large company would be invited. Instead of trying to get our guest to talk, my colleagues and I would show off to each other and to our editor by trying to ask the most arcane questions. The result was that no one ended up finding out anything.

By contrast, an admission of ignorance is almost always disarming. It is easier to bring this off if you are young, bright and dashing. I once went to a training day for financial journalists held at the Bank of England. We sat through several hours of detail on the ins and outs of banking supervision (not a word of which I remember, by the way). At the end of the session one of the journalists put up his hand and asked in a loud voice: "What is a bond?" He went on to be very successful. I admired him for ever.

The problem arises if you are neither intelligent, knowledgeable nor young and if, for example, you are president of the US. Then ignorance can be a problem. When George W. Bush says "increasingly our imports are from abroad" he looks an idiot. But for him to admit his ignorance, and ask what imports are, would not do either.

In the end the HBR article does impart some knowledge. It tells us where we have got to in the cycle of management thought. What happens is that the pendulum hovers over glaringly obvious fads for a bit (knowledge is good) and, when everyone is tired of banality, it swings to the opposite extreme. I have more evidence that this is what is happening now. In the same post as the HBR came Strategy and Business, the rival heavy mag from Booz Allen Hamilton. Its cover story: What Sartre Can Teach Business Strategists.

You may not be surprised to know I am fairly ignorant about Sartre. But in my ignorance I can confidently tell you that Sartre can't teach business strategists anything at all.