Archive for July, 2006
heh, I got my first spammers this week. Is that a wierd benchmark of activity level?
I have to credit Akismet — it only missed one item!
I came across a new blog today, courtesy of my Info Week Daily newsletter. The retrospector has a well written post about how to motivate geek employees. One would think that more managers would realize these key points by now.
A lot of these apply to those of us that are in the “quasi” geek realm — we don’t do a lot of coding but are involved in the structure and internals of internet, intranet, portal sites.
A point I would add is to allow your geek to provide a solution that works! I’m encountering business users (upper management) that insist that they know the solution and that it must be done that way — even if there is another approach. These are people who refuse to discuss or view any ideas, current features, approaches outside of the their prescribed solution.
I completely agree with the point about allowing tools needed. I have encountered this problem in my current organization. Our network is, of neccessity tightly secured. I fully appreciate the need to test and research new applications to be sure that they will not present virii, malware or other nasties. It is also undestandable that we must run new and updated applications in a test environment prior to deployment. However, the rules can become so binding that common sense is abandoned. I requested a *free* open source application to experiment with putting our taxonomy into XML. This was THREE months ago. They insisted upon runing it in a test environment, even though I would only run the application locally. There is only one place you can download it, you can communicate directly with the programmer and there is no budget issue. I had to fill out a canned form that insisted upon answers that are not applicable because this is a free application. There are, in some organizations, too many templated processes and not enough intelligent interaction.
I also encounter issues in retaining the applications I need. Our organization has a policy of removing users from licenses if they have not used an application for x time. This seems to be related to cost cutting measures more than security. While this makes sense on paper — it doesn’t work for me. I have to be able to open and manipulate any file I recieve for our digital library. Since I may only see 2 of those particular files a year, I inevitably appear on the IT list of “users that do not need x application”. Thank goodness my administrator is supportive and will argue with IT on my behalf.
However, I disagree with the way the list generalizes what drive geeks. Too many of our own Information Services and Technology Services people have not kept up to date and are unfamiliar with some of the new approaches and technologies. I am including all facets of information services, such as: programmers, developers, network engineers and security engineers. I have not encountered many employees that actively stay aware of developments in related fields. For example, I’ve stayed on top of the development of AJAX — I’m not a programmer, but it will affect my selection decisions in the future. I stay on top of new security issues: I create crawlers and feel I need to understand network security. I am not an expert in any of these things, by any means! But, it does seem that not all geeks are curious. Perhaps not all techies are geeks? Perhaps past experiences with managers that discouraged creativity and experimentation stifled their curiousity?
One of my favorite librarian bloggers, Meredith is thinking about KM needs in her organization.
Knowledge management in a growing and change averse organization
Clearly, though, the solution to these problems is not so simple as creating an Intranet or a wiki or whatever. There has to be a real change in culture or people won’t use the tools they are given. That’s really where the managers have to come in. Management style is so crucial to KM. The way you manage people will make them more or less likely to share what they know.
What Meredith is looking for is to simply get all of the information she and the copyright checker need in order to ensure that students have access to materials they need for classes.
Jack has an idea that might be less threatening by requesting the information in a format familiar to the staff and faculty. However, setting any requirement or standard still requires effort and change on their part.
Unfortunately, there are those that simply do not like change of any kind. I used to completely resent these types of people. However, I have come to learn that they can serve as brakes to slow down those of us at the other end of the spectrum. They make me stop and think — what am I trying to accomplish? Is this the only, or even the best approach? What can I keep from what they are used to?
I too have encountered change resistance. I have encountered those who will insist upon doing things in an unbeliably awkward and inefficient manner. In my experience, I have found there is usually a reason (often political, social, psychological or all three).
Meredith also points out that many people view their specialized knowledge as a form of job security. That is an issue that I think trips up every KM and/or collaborative organization and/or learning organization approach. This is a hold over from the 20th century, industrial viewpoints that said that people are cogs and are replacble. Couple this background idea with the request to share information, and you can understand why some people will resist!