Strengths,Flow and Knowledge Management

Couple of articles in FastCompany on the need to focus on strengths and on Flow (Based on work by American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) reminds me of a much ignored dimension in managing talent – Identifying and focussing on the strengths of employees and ensuring that the right people are in the right roles.One of the challenges in implementing a successful KM initiative is to foster a culture where people act on the knowledge they have access to. While there could be a number of reasons like culture,organizational/structural barriers,mental models of managers etc., that prevent people from acting with the knowledge they have access to, individual skills also impact effective decision making. Having the right people in the right roles(read aligning with strengths) is a pre-requisite to move into the “flow state”.Chances of people taking the right decisions with the knowledge that they have access to could increase multifold once this alignment and transition to the flow state happens.

Here is what the article has to say about Flow:

In the flow state, Csikszentmihalyi found, people engage so completely in what they are doing that they lose track of time. Hours pass in minutes. All sense of self recedes. At the same time, they are pushing beyond their limits and developing new abilities. Indeed, the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to capacity. People emerge from each flow experience more complex, Csikszentmihalyi found. They become more self-confident, capable, and sensitive. The experience becomes “autotelic,” meaning that the activity actually becomes its own reward. “To improve life, one must improve the quality of experience,” he says. One of the chief advantages of flow is that it enables people to escape the state of “psychic entropy,” the distraction, depression, and dispiritedness that constantly threaten them.”

The two discussed Mike’s belief that flow has several necessary preconditions. These include having clear goals and a reasonable expectation of completing the task at hand. People must also have the ability to concentrate, receive regular feedback on their progress, and actually possess the skills needed for that type of work.”

And Marcus Buckingham in his article says: “The signs of this stalled revolution are many. For example, only 25% of working people say their managers actively coach them in how to use their strengths at work. Even worse, only 17% of working people say that they spend most of their day doing things they really like. I know work is supposed to be “work,” and that only a naive idealist would expect 70% or 80% of people to say they spend most of their time at work doing things they really like. But, still, 17%? What a waste of human potential, not to mention productivity.

When 83% of working people dont spend most of the day doing things they enjoy, it sure will have an impact on the decisions being made and the action being taken.Managing talent from a strengths perspective and a fresh focus on helping people move into the flow state seem to be important from a talent management perspective.This in turn will have huge implications on how people act based on the knowledge they have access to.


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