Every so often there is are buzz words and phrases introduced that are used so often they cease to have any meaning for me at all. Innovation is one of those words. Web 2.0 is another. This means that this weeks work proved highly problematic for me. On one hand I found it very interesting; the connection between innovation and creativity is fascinating, especially for someone, like me, who wishes to work with children in order to foster their creativity. The fact that I could on some way help create “the next big thing” is inspiring. On the other hand every mention of the word innovation made me want to throw my computer at the wall. This is why I liked when they started to discuss change management. I could absorb the information, I found it interesting, I even liked the chicken and egg situation which they discuss regarding change and innovation. What I did not like? The continued use of that word.I could not absorb the information. Had the author been innovative and used a thesaurus whilst writing this article than maybe my reaction to this article would have been different. But he didn’t. As a result I could not connect with this work. Maybe I have “issues” or maybe, these innovators need to innovate and come up with a new word for innovation.
This weeks readings reminded me of the urban legend surrounding the recipe of Coca-Cola. Apparently the recipe is so secret that only two people in the entire world know it in its entirety. As a result of this they are never allowed to travel on the same plane just in case the plane were to go down and losing the recipe forever.
This seems like some pretty bad knowledge management. What if both planes went down? Or what if Pepsi decided that they didn’t want anymore competition so they were going to “take them out” and not for dinner and a movie?
Knowledge management seems to have to straddle a very fine line. On one hand the more people who understand the workings of an organisation the smoother the organisation can be run. On the other hand the more that people know the more likely it is that this information can be leaked to competitors.
I do not feel that this too much of an issue within library management. After all, one of the fundemental purposes of the library is to dissimate knowledge throughout its community, be that in a public, academic, or business setting. To all intents and purposes that means that knowledge management is a cornerstone of librarianship. With that in mind it makes sense that KM would be important in the day to day running of any library facility.
So what is the most important type of knowledge that needs to be managed within an organisation? In my opinion, tacit knowledge is vital. Moreover, it’s interesting. Everyone likes picking up on the tricks and shortcuts involved in performing a task. It gives us a sense of belonging. I worked for a big multi-national corporation. To be perfectly honest we didn’t give a damn about the company. We were on the very bottom rung of the corporate ladder and were all merely there to collect our paycheck at the end of the week. We worked in the missing packages department of customers services. That meant that we spent 12 hours a day getting shouted at by frustrated customers who we could not help. We were in Ireland, our customers were in France. All we could do was tell them to wait. This is where the tacit knowledge kicked in. We all learned very quickly that there are certain words that you never use, problem, delay, mistake etc. as this would serve to infuriate the customer. Instead you spun a lovely story using only positive words. The outcome was the same. The customer would still have to stay home and wait for their package to arrive, yet they would be happy to do so and would use the company again.
We were never taught this in training. This was something that we learned on the job and then passed on to the new recruits. In doing so we formed a bond with each other, if not necessarily the company. This still worked in the comapny’s favour. They had an educated work force and happy customers.
The importance of tacit knowledge can not be underestimated. We live in a world where graduates are forced to spend increasing amount of times in internship programmes before they are able to find the holy grail, a paying job. These are young adults who have spent a minimum of three years studying an area in great detail, yet they are seen to be unhirable. This is because they have no on the job experience. i.e. tacit knowledge. The internship enables them to pick up on these elements of knowledge which are lacking in their formal education and thus prepares them for the workforce. This is opposed to the other forms of knowledge which can be gained by studying the subject area or indeed the company and their ethos.
KM is clearly important as it not only facilitates the work done within any given company it also helps serve as a bond between employees regardless of their loyalty to the company itself. If the employees have a strong bond they are likely to develop some form of loyalty to the company in the long run. This undoubtedly encourages innovation as even the laziest employee, in fact most likely the laziest employee, is likely to try and come up with procedures to minimise the levels of work that they need to do in order to get a job done and once they have figured this out they are likely to spread the word amongst their friends thus improving efficiency within the work force.
This week’s articles are based around strategic planning within libraries. I found that this tied in well with our reference and information class where we are in the process of writing collection policies. Although they are not exactly the same, they do share some of the same elements.
One of the more interesting points about these articles was that they could not decide how necessary a strategic plan is within a library. Although they stated the benefits of having one they were not sure if it was worth the opportunity cost. Personally, I believe that they are worthwhile as they show a library what direction they should be heading in. However, one point that was made was that libraries are advancing at such a pace that it is not worthwhile to create a long term strategy plan as it would be out of date before the time frame of the plan has reached a conclusion. This seems to be a very real problem considering the ongoing technological advancements which are changing the way that the general public interact with information.
I do feel, though, that certain strategies can still be made regarding the planning of future library goals and services. These could cover possible changes, based on the trends that we have seen in the last decade, and, thus, would prevent the policy from becoming too outdated.
I did not like the army metaphor which was present in some of the articles as I feel that this regimented view of strategy planning could serve to hold library organisations back. If libraries hope to collate data in order to help move their organisations into the future I feel that a creative approach in planning could be more useful than a systematic approach which relies to heavily on the concrete role of libraries in a time when libraries should be becoming increasingly fluid and adapt to the changes in the world around them.
This week we have been asked to reflect on the process of reflection. In order to do this I feel I should explain a little background information. My mother is obsessed with inter and intra personal skills. Thus, having grown up in a house with a mother who may or may not have read every self help book known to man I was raised to be extremely self aware. A huge component of this is to constantly reflect on every aspect of myself; social interaction, learning styles, motivation etc.
This is not an issue for me. What is,however, is to write it down. I do not like to write in the first person. This has always been an issue. In secondary school I was the only girl in the class who could not and would not use “I” in my English essays.
The guidelines for writing these article journals state that the highest marks are given to those who can relate their real life experiences with what it is they are studying at the time. This brings me back to secondary school English. The only way that I am able to do this is to completely disassociate myself from the experiences that I am writing about, which to all intents and purposes nullifies the point of this exercise.
I am aware that this is something which I need to work on and maybe this journal will be the place where I finally learn to be comfortable writing in the first person. Who knows? After all, we all want good marks or why would we bother to go to college at all?
I do, however, feel that to grade these blogs could be counterproductive. This is summed up perfectly in one of the readings by Sister Craig,
‘How can you mark an individual’s own personal development? I think it’s a right and
proper part of education for us to encourage students to express their feelings so that
they know it’s alright to have those feelings. However, for me to mark those feelings
seems inconsistent and incongruent. Marks can also create a barrier or obstacle to the
person finding his or her own voice…’
(Sister Craig cited in Dillon, 1983)
I could find my voice by Christmas. However, finding it does not mean that I would do any better than faking a more appropriate voice. So the question remains, do we be true to ourselves or do we strive for the highest mark possible?
This week’s readings concentrated on group and team work and the benefits and problems associated with both. I found that the text-book gave me the best grounding in both the advantages and pitfalls of working in a group. The amount of group work that we have been given as a part of this programme was extremely daunting and I am glad that I now have a greater idea of the concepts involved in group work as I feel it will serve me well in my various projects this semester.
I found the concept of groupthink particularly interesting as I had been worried about a situation where everyone would be struggling to be heard and that this would result in conflicts within the various groups. Now that I know that there is an equally dangerous extreme I feel a I have a greater understanding of what we, as a group, need to avoid.
I am glad that all of our readings clarified a difference between teams and groups. I have had to work as part of a team in several of my old jobs where being a part of a team was a means of indoctrinating you into the company mindset. As a result of this I am not hugely fond of the term and everything that goes with it.
Both the text-book and moon focused heavily on the individual within the group. I felt that both had some interesting and worthwhile points to consider. I found myself increasingly preoccupied with what type of group member I am as I progressed in the reading. I think that maybe that means that I may be one of the self obsessed ones. This combined with our VARK test means that I have spent a substantial amount of time contemplating my personality this week. According to the test I fall very firmly into the aural category. I have come to the conclusion that working in a group would be excellent for me if I find myself struggling with my course work as I will have people to discuss it with. I will however need to figure out my strengths so that I can add to the group without feeling the need to be in control.
I have not really touched on the main ideas in the other articles. That is because they deal mainly with teamwork and I am more largely concerned with group work at the moment. I will, however, say that Vandeveer makes some interesting observations which I intend to keep in mind as I work within my various project groups. Although I have zero intention of encouraging us to make t-shirts or the like. I find that far too cheesy and too similar to the company indoctrination which I have already mentioned.
In conclusion, this weeks reading has given me a lot to think about in relation to group and team work, most of which was extremely helpful. In the weeks to come I can imagine myself returning to these articles as I try to figure out where I am going right and wrong within my projects.