Wanker Management: The IT Plague

In response to a comment by John Udell What if being non-communicative weren’t an option?, itself part of an extended conversation spurred by a Fortune article on Esther Dyson about institutional information sharing, or “knowledge management” if you want to be jargonish, Dorothea Salo, of Caveat Lector, blogs:

Wanker management believes that the company has One Voice; that voice comes down from On High and must neither be contradicted nor amplified nor qualified—and it must particularly never admit a mistake. Wanker management believes that smart workers exist basically to feed knowledge upward so that it can be properly incorporated into the One Voice—at which point, of course, any trace of the worker originating the knowledge is extinguished.

Salo has accurately described a phenomonen that seems heart-rendingly common in IT organizations, where the life blood of the organization is information, and systems of hardware and software rely on living intelligent actively engaged people to share information and work collaboratively. Information is such cases must be shared if the organization is to thrive. All too often management subdivides the organization into cells, deliberately destroying lines of communication, and even forbidding information sharing so that all information flows in one direction, up the hierarchichal org chart, and never circulates naturally throughout the organization.