KM

Chun Wei’s article, “Working with knowledge: how information professionals help organisations manage what they know” is written for a conference of librarians, but it focuses on business organisations. In her explanation of explicit knowledge (codified knowledge being the domain of libraries), she discusses how intellectual assets indicate the worth of an organisation, often because they’re the source of innovation. My question is, how does this work in libraries? Aside from a few exceptions such as private law libraries, libraries are public service institutions; they don’t earn money (aside from fines that commonly cover the cost of a loss), they don’t cost money to use, and they also don’t usually have intellectual assets. So how do we determine the worth of a library in terms of KM?

You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

You’re All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack

Libraries do not own the intellectual property that has led to recent innovations in information science, such as the digitalization of print media and increasingly convenient access points to information on the internet, so how can they bank in on the worth of it? Libraries have certainly benefited from these innovations and their needs and the needs of their users have stimulated new knowledge management innovations, but the only value is in the third point Chun Wei discusses, an increase in the organisations reputation and accountability.

One of the other articles we had to read this week was “A Review of Knowledge Management in the Irish Civil Service” by Joanna O’Riordan who displays KM in a completely different way. O’Riordan focuses more on KM as a process rather than the types of knowledge being managed. In fact, the KM process reads a lot like a system analysis of the type I’m learning about it my Systems Analysis and Design class where you study the system in place, identify issues, design a solution, test it, and implement it.

The case study of the Knowledge Audit at SEI wasn’t very helpful because I don’t know anything about the kind of data an energy organisation would be working with so even though this was a real-life example it was still abstract and theoretical to me. As such, I’m having trouble thinking of a KM project that I’ve been involved in personally. I have done plenty of inventories in bookstore and libraries, which at a stretch could be described as a knowledge audit, but at best these were audits of the codified knowledge. Basically, I’ve only ever managed the containers of knowledge.

I also found this article by Failte Ireland really interesting: http://www.failteireland.ie/FailteIreland/media/WebsiteStructure/Documents/2_Develop_Your_Business/1_StartGrow_Your_Business/Knowledge-Management.pdf.

References

Chun Wei, C. (2000).Working with knowledge: how information professionals help organisations managewhat they know. Library Management, 21(8), 395.

JoannaO’Riordan. (2005). A Review of KnowledgeManagement in the Irish Civil Service. Institute of Public Administration.

Halftime

We’re now halfway through the term and it’s an ideal time to look back over my reflections of the past five weeks and reflect on my voice, writing, and how successful I’ve been reflecting on my readings, what I’ve learnt, and our discussions in class. It’s that point in the game where the players stop for water and the fans line up for beer; I’m not sure what crowd I belong in.

Our instructor has asked the question, what makes us uncomfortable about this type of writing? and my answer is that I’m uncomfortable about how comfortable it is. I struggle with the ingrained idea that academic writing should be a struggle and should require a lot of editing and research. To borrow the opening metaphor from Watton, Collings, and Moon’s Reflective Writing: Guidance Notes for Students, I feel like I’m in a Pensieve when I should be hooked up to that machine from The Cell. I’m made even more nervous after reading some of the resources for reflective writing and learning journals provided by my instructor because they all focus on the academic requirements, the Grading Rubric for Reflective Assignments even has a suggestion for page length. As much as I focus on making my assignments readable with an engaging voice and good ‘flow’ it’s always been a comfort to me that if I follow the requirements for font size, paragraph style, length, and references then I’ll meet some expectations. In university, the arts is always the hardest area to achieve 100% in because unlike maths or sciences there is no right answer.

In Jennifer Moon’s document on Learning Journals and Logs from UCD’s Teaching and Learning Department, she discusses deep reflection and a phrase jumped out at me that made me think of VARK, “familiar forms of learning” (Moon, pp. 8). She writes,

“We
 tend
 to
 use
 reflection
 when
 we
 are
 trying
 to
 make
 sense
 of
 how
 diverse
 ideas
 fit
together,
when
 we 
are 
trying 
to 
relate 
new
 ideas 
to 
what 
we 
already 
know 
or 
when 
new
ideas 
challenge
 what 
we 
already 
know” (Moon, pp. 8)

and I immediately thought of what I wrote about my Kinesthetic result from my VARK test a few weeks ago. I interjected myself and added the following note,

Note: I would say that I prefer Kinesthetic because I have trouble grasping abstract concepts and I learn something faster if I can relate it to an experience.

So even though I’m uncomfortable with mixing the academic concept of reflective writing with the personal nature of reflection and the blogging format it’s perfectly suited to my learning style. And I find that what I enjoy most is being able to include asides about humourous aspects and connections to popular culture.

For example, in another class last week I used Jim Carrey’s famous Self-Defense skit to describe the pitfalls of controlled experimentation in usability testing.

References

 

Albert-Peacock, Betsy. (2007). Grading Rubric for Reflection Assignments. Educ 1100 Human Diversity. Retrieved from http://www.d.umn.edu/~balbert/humandiversity/grading_rubric.html.

Moon, Jennifer. (2010). Learning Journals and Logs. UCD Teaching and Learning: Resources. Retrieved from https://elearning.ucd.ie/bbcswebdav/pid-870447-dt-content-rid-60191_1/courses/IS40370/Learning%20Journals.pdf.

Watton, Pete, Collings, Jane, and Moon Jennifer. (2001). Reflective writing: guidance notes for students. Retrieved from https://elearning.ucd.ie/bbcswebdav/pid-872987-dt-content-rid-2101328_1/courses/IS40370/reflective-writing-guidance.pdf.

Strategic planning is like worrying

We had a lot to read this week, but each article (or blog) was short, to the point, and was on the same subject. Matthew R. Fairholm’s article ‘Leadership and Organizational Strategy’ outlines approaches to strategic planning in a hilariously frenetic increase in question words (I was waiting for How-Why-What-Who-and Where?-Where will we hold this meeting now that L303 is booked) but what I took away from it was the concept of strategic thinking and the organisational philosopher. I’ve attended a few Strategic Planning sessions over the years and I recognised the need for a focus on creating or unifying values for the collective staff. In my mind, strategic planning is one of many products of strategic thinking.

Of the two blog posts I found the L.S.P.P. Overview entry went in one ear and came out the other as ‘PLAN, CHANGE IS COMING SO PLAN’. However, the L.S.P.P. Management entry was a lot more helpful, especially the definition of strategic management and all it’s duties, which I would say sums up a job definition for a typical head librarian.

Two seconds into Mott’s piece I stumbled over the clause, “to logically decide” (Mott, 20) and winced. However, I brightened up when I realised it was describing how to avoid a strategic planning meeting and still come up with a strategic plan. Strategic planning meetings take aaallll day, and yes, you usually get fed, but all work ceases and you have to find someone to man/woman the circulation desk in the meantime. I particularly like what I’ve dubbed Mott’s ‘throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks’ angle; plan when you have most of your information, experiment, and try strategy on like you would different styles of jeans.

Many of these articles hint at a growing trend of Not planning, which I found best outlined by an article in the Wall Street Journal by J.S. Lublin and D. Mattioli called ‘Strategic plans lose favor’, which you can find in print at UCD, online at UCD, or read for free here. That being said, having a strategic plan has some benefits; for example, it may be needed for funding and it provides accountability. Also, it means that when money does suddenly appear, there is a plan in place to take advantage of it. I’m thinking in particular of plans for renovations which are waiting for money in the budget to move ahead.

References

Lublin, J. S., & Mattioli, D. (2010, Jan 25). Theory & practice: Strategic plans lose favor — slump showed bosses value of flexibility, quick decisions. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/399091834?accountid=14507

Matthews, Steve. (April 14, 2011). 21st Century Library Strategic Planning Overview. [blog post]. Retrieved from http://21stcenturylibrary.com/2011/04/14/library-strategic-planning-process-overview/.

Matthews, Steve. (January 31, 2012). 21st Century Library Strategic Management. [blog post]. Retrieved from http://21stcenturylibrary.com/2012/01/31/21st-century-library-strategic-management/.

Mott, L. (2008). Planning strategically and strategic planning. [DOI: 10.1108/08880450810875738].

A Shameless Plug!

We had Niamh O’Sullivan from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service come and speak to us on Tuesday and I was inspired!

I’m running the Dublin Marathon in a few weeks time and I’m raising money for the Irish Red Cross (Check out the good work they do!). If you’d like to sponsor me a few Euros I’d be ever so grateful. Personally, it’s not the amount that’s my goal, it’s the number of sponsors, because I know money’s tight for everyone right now but enough pennies will fill a piggy bank right?

Click here to go to my sponsorship page or come and find me in person.

Click here to go to my sponsorship page or come and find me in person.

Individual Focus Study Topic

My topic will be uninvolved or absentee management in software development companies and my case study with be Valve, a game developer from Seattle with a flat management structure.

References

Traveling without direction. (1992). Supervisory Management, 37(7), 8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214227305?accountid=14507.

– Luckily I saved this offline because suddenly ProQuest won’t let me log in. 

Brazen, V. (2009, April 28). Tips For Dealing With An Absentee Manager. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2009/04/28/tips-for-dealing-with-an-absentee-manager/. Accessed September 29, 2013.

– Blog posts are turning out to be my major source because academic journals appear to avoid the topic. It’s almost as if journal articles are mostly written by Management.

Daley, D. M. (1991). Management practices and the uninvolved manager: The effect of supervisory attitudes on.. Public Personnel Management, 20(1), 101.

– The journal article that’ll be my main source. I’d love to have this in hard copy, because I don’t have any paper resources, but UCD Library says they have it when they don’t.

Two Valve References

Kelion, L. (2013, September 23). Valve: How going boss-free empowered the games-maker. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24205497. Accessed September 30, 2013.

Varoufakis, Y. (2012, August 3). Why Valve? Or, what do we need corporations for and how does Valve’s management structure fit into today’s corporate world? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/economics/why-valve-or-what-do-we-need-corporations-for-and-how-does-valves-management-structure-fit-into-todays-corporate-world/. Accessed September 30, 2013.

 

 

The Middle Man

This week we were given four case studies to choose from and I chose, ‘The False Promise of Organizational Culture Change: A Case Study of Middle Managers in Grocery Retailing’ by Emmanuel Ogbonna and Barry Wilkinson because I worked in a grocery store for two years and had some interesting experiences with managers there. I read, ‘A student’s guide to analysing case studies’ in preparation, but found it was pretty common sense; there was a tantalizing mention of various theoretical tools and methods, but no explanation of them. The third reading, ‘God – and the devil – are in the details’ by Glen Holt was very interesting to me because it addressed the management style I’m hoping to use for my Individual Focus Study.Leadership Committee

The chain of grocery stores that I worked for is called Save-on-Foods and it’s parent company is owned and operated by the local billionaire Jimmy Pattison. Save-On has a culture of inclusiveness; one of its values is employing persons with disabilities. This is something that has been there since Jimmy Pattison (He’s always ‘Jimmy Pattison’ – ‘Jimmy’ would be creepy and totalitarian and ‘Mr. Pattison’ would just be weird) started the company be he feels strongly about it. As such, I never witnessed an attempted change of culture there. As strange as it sounds, (because the chain is so widespread in my home province) Save-On never seems big enough to attempt that sort of project. Sure, it has cheesy ad campaigns, but no matter my jobs ups and downs I never felt like the company would get so big for their boots that they would think they could change the values of their employees. Perhaps this is why, unlike the (humorously accurate) description of floor workers in the Ogbonna and Wilkinson article, many floor workers at Save-On work there for life, and why it becomes the centre of their personal lives.

Ultimately, I think that changing the values of middle managers is just as disastrous a concept as changing the values of floor workers. One thing that Ogbonna and Wilkinson come close to stating, but never do, is that (a) employees always know when upper management is trying to change their ‘values’, (b) they resent it, and (c) just who does upper management think they are anyway?

The nerve.

References

A Student’s Guide to Analysing Case Studies

Heathfield, S. M. (July 15th, 2013). 10 reasons why your employees hate you. Human Resources Guide, , September 29, 2013.

Holt (2002). God – and the devil – are in the details. The Bottom Line, 15(4), 174-175. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 274375901)

Ogbonna, E., & Wilkinson, B. (2003). The False Promise of Organizational Culture Change: A Case Study of Middle Managers in Grocery Retailing. Journal Of Management Studies, 40(5), 1151-1178. doi:10.1111/1467-6486.00375