Undercover Boss, a now three-week new CBS television series—follows CEOs undercover as they pursue alternative realities in their organizations: realities at levels far afield from the corporate board room. Checking in and working with the little guys for a day is a noble and worthwhile idea, if not a particularly original one. Still, Undercover Boss brings good stories (while hardly randomly selected) and carries more learning value than Housewives ever will.
In the Hooters episode, we see a perfect example of what can happen in the next executive generation when a retiring (now deceased) CEO either chooses not to share or is not asked in serious ways what his keys are to corporate success. One of Duly Knowted’s™ missions in a nutshell! But there is broader, relevant advice for knowledge capture—from both episodes.
Point #1: Avoid making assumptions about whose knowledge has value. HUGE benefit can arise from the seemingly small, smart things that the folks at the lowest pay grades see, hear, know, use and learn every day.
Point #2: Great learning can arise from the rotten apple-examples. (Beans with no hands, anyone? I would have fired this guy, flat out.)
Point #3: Avoid making assumptions about the ways and places we capture. The back of a garbage truck works for me if insights gained there are good ones—maybe these are the small dots that connect the big ones.
I’ll keep watching, for a while. Reality TV, sure. Contrived, sure. But I’m not going to make assumptions about where and who I gain insight from.