Shakespeare in a Corporation or Job Interview

…there are throats to be cut and works to be done. From Shakespeare's Henry V “…there are throats to be cut and works to be done.”

(King Henry V, act 3, sc. 4)

Probably, Shakespeare would not fare well today in a job interview. For example, it is assumed, especially in a sales or marketing position, that the candidate must “like people”. Silly words for a silly concept. Some people are likable, some aren’t for whatever reason. To pretend otherwise under the mantle of “liking people” is to expect a lie even before you start (working).

I have not run accurate statistics, but it is safe to say that the majority of Shakespeare’s characters are not people we would like as friends. It is possible that to the question, “Do you like people?” Shakespeare might answer, “Almost all men are scoundrels. Those who aren’t must have had unusual luck, both in their birth and in their upbringing.”

But in current managerese that would not be a good answer. Here is a more up-to-date alternative, “Human beings are completely exempt from undesirable behavior-patterns only when certain prerequisites, not satisfied except in a small percentage of actual cases, have, through some fortuitous concourse of favorable circumstances, whether congenital or environmental, chanced to combine in producing an individual in whom many factors deviate from the norm in a socially advantageous manner”.

Exaggeration? Not really. The industry is filled with new terms that let you suspect, because of their vague indefiniteness, an arcane discipline, only understandable by the selected few. Take “Knowledge Management” for example. Most of us succeed in surviving the day only because we “manage” our “knowledge” – that is, what we ought to do or not, from the trivial to the sublime.

Hence, the requirement of being “skilled in knowledge management” is bound to leave baffled more than a few applicants. What does it mean? What secrets do those words shroud?

Now then, I quote, “Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. It refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organizational objectives by making the best use of knowledge.”

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel greatly illuminated. For one, who is the arbiter of “best use”? How many “disciplines” does it take to share knowledge?

I dig further. Here is a supposedly clearer definition. “…Quite simply one might say that Knowledge Management means organizing an organization’s information and knowledge holistically, and surprisingly enough, even though it sounds overbroad, it is not the whole picture.”

Wow! Knowledge Management is even holier than holy. The explainer further explains, “Knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” And he adds this encouraging statement, “This definition has the virtue of being simple, stark, and to the point.” Good for him.

However, not totally certain of having made the point he continues, “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”

Digging still a little bit further, if the layman understands correctly, Knowledge Management is a big software file that contains everything about everything and everybody who works in a corporation.

That, in itself, seems a good idea. Out of which have grown very complex and labyrinthine software programs, whose intent is to inform everybody about (almost) every content that is (hopefully) useful. And about what everybody else is doing (barring the usual exceptional people whose doings are confidential).

Except that the effort required to master the steps in the software labyrinth is such that at the end of the effort there is no energy left to master the content. The criticism is probably overbroad – but if you were to review a few of the “Knowledge Management” software packages promoted today, you may form a similar impression.

I am not suggesting that knowledge should not be shared, but if sharing the knowledge becomes more complicated than the knowledge shared, what is the advantage? For example, you do not improve the visual and inspiring effect of a Van Gogh by making a complicated or distracting frame.

Still, even if you agree with this assessment, you may refrain from expressing it during a job interview about “Knowledge Management”.

Where masochism is bliss, it is folly to eschew it.

In the play. The Welsh Captain Fluellen wants to cut talk short and move to action just before the battle of Agincourt.

Shakespeare at Work. A semi-serious motivating statement, equivalent to “Let’s get back to work”, or similar.

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