New from the Institute: Converting Knowledge into Action, cont’d

Last week the Drucker Institute hosted the Drucker Innovation Forum, an intimate, cross-industry, cross-sector gathering of leading managers of innovation. Our aim was to inspire each of the two-dozen participants to implement one new management tool, approach, or practice at his or her home organization.

Regular readers of the Dx will notice a theme here: so much of what we do at the Institute is geared to change how managers manage and leaders lead. It’s fun to inspire people, but what we really love to do is instigate.

Last month, on the heels of a meeting of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, I asked Dx readers: What kinds of organizations excel at being a source of knowledge that other organizations convert into action? This month, on the heels of our Innovation Forum, I’m thinking about the same question, but in the micro: What kinds of organizations excel at being a source of knowledge that individuals convert into action?

[EXPAND More]Grist’s David Roberts warns that the common assumption — that inspiring ideas will inspire action — is all wrong:

“Many, many (many!) people cling to the notion that the way to motivate behavior change is simply to give people more information. Untold sums of money have been spent sending people brochures or sending them to websites where they can learn more; the results of those programs are almost uniformly dismal. Information is not motivation.”

We’ve run our fair share of conferences and symposiums. Or, as I like to think of them, “information transmission events.” David’s clearly correct; those  probably helped the local catering industry, but they didn’t do much to improve attendees’ management practices.

Starting with events like the Drucker Innovation Forum, here’s the new formula we’re testing: Collaborative learning + Peer-to-peer accountability + Engagement with actual, current management challenges + A sprinkling of Drucker pixie dust = An opportunity for positive behavior change.

That’s an expensive and delicate formula to produce. And the end result is still, on a good day, only about 50/50 odds that we’ll succeed. But those odds are infinitely better than the ones we had when our recipe was simply Speaking ideas + People listening = Action.

— Zach[/EXPAND]

Zach First, Drucker Institute managing director