On March 2, 2011, Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated. Like others before him (including Benazir Bhutto), he was killed for standing up for the right of Pakistanian citizens to believe in whatever they wanted to believe. In this case, Bhatti was a Christian, and (to his detriment) was outspoken about it. There are leading Muslim clerics who will say that the Koran is precise about the consequences of “blasphemy” which I suppose being Christian is. Whether or not this is true is not for me to decide as I have no basis in Islam, the Koran, or as a religious scholar of any sort. However, I do this to simply point out that people the world over feel a compelling need to manage what other people think and believe. We can take another example of China and the shutting down of Google months ago. (Google actually pulled out I think – but at any rate, the internet is government regulated)
There are some organizations that are quite liberal with knowledge management. Many technology companies deploy blogs and wikis and actively encourage employees to write and participate. Many brick and mortar companies won’t deploy enterprise social platforms because they are afraid of what might come out. Rather than encouraging the discourse (ALL of which will happen anyway), many of us have suppressed it based on a fear of “bad behavior.”
The problem about this is not about trust. It’s about generations. Unfortunately, many of us (I’ll just draw a line at 35 years old and up), realize that large corporations have not been democratic societies. We work in states that are oligarchical at best. Even in companies where the corporate center does not have much power over divisions, the individual divisions can command the employees at will. Those in the workforce in their 20’s have no acceptance of such a model. We’ve always talked about them as being insistent on having access to decision-making, being vocal and contributory, and demanding the be part of the conversation in general. They have grown up in a world where technology has democratized the world, and it’s their expectation that data and information is part of their realm.
Evidence supports that actual instances of “bad behavior” are so low that it’s really not worth being afraid of – and the community will generally self police itself. People realize for the most part that the conversations that happen in the workplace are different than the conversations that happen without – and the 5 horror stories you hear each year are insignificant compared to the potential for collaboration you have. We can’t control the thinking. Nor can we control the content.
Between everything that has been going on in the Middle East and of course the earthquake in Japan, I think April will be a current events month. My thoughts and best wishes go out to all those throughout the world as they struggle in their various ordeals. (written a while back obviously – sorry)