Monday, May 28, 2007

Working in Public: Linking Knowledge to Action

In discussions about using networking tools for school district business, Kate Greeley and I discussed several advantages and challenges. In looking for a reference link for a paper I am drafting, I discovered another advantage.

Bob Sutton and Jeffry Pfeffer identified a widespread problem in institutions and businesses that they called The Knowing-Doing Gap: managers know what needs to be done but very frequently do not implement the practices. Recently, Sutton reflected on an innovation described by Diego Rodriguez at Metacool To Do Lists: A Way to Link Knowledge to Action:
"Diego at Metacool has an instructive and inspiring new post. He has a picture and a great discussion of a 'To Do' list that was publicly displayed by the staff at the Denver Art Museum, which showed the things that they still needed to get done on a new addition. I love this because it not only advertises to donors what things they need money for, it also creates public pressure on the staff to get things done. As research on commitment shows, public proclamations are far harder to reverse than those that are made in private."
Sutton got one part of the innovation but Rodriguez took it another and more powerful step:
Even better would be to open up that to-do list to anyone. So when I find the typos on the FAA website, rather than writing a snarky post on my blog, I help 'em out by entering an item on their to-do list wiki. Now I'm part of the solution, and probably part of the brand. It's about leveraging the power of the many to create the best pile of real evidence possible about what works and what doesn't. At some point along the line this starts to feel a lot like open source. Might Mozilla really be one be one big public to-do list in disguise?

Back to the Denver Museum of Art. I wish they had a publicly addressable to-do list. I would add an entry right now. Something like "fix those crazy interior angled walls that everyone kept tripping over."
Hmmmm. Shall I add testing this idea to my public to-do-list?

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