Sunday, 30 October 2011

LIKE 30 - Knowledge Transfer: Making it stick

On Thursday evening I attended a London Information and Knowledge Exchange event. The evening's speaker was Gary Colet, Knowledge and Innovation Network Facilitator at Warwick Business School and he was speaking about knowledge transfer and making it stick. When I registered to attend the event my interpretation of knowledge transfer was related to my own work i.e. I thought it would have something to do with teaching or training and making the knowledge stick in the attendees heads. What it was really referring to was how to capture and transfer the knowledge of experienced people leaving a company.

Gary started the session by sending four people out of the room and then, one by one, allowing them in . He told a short story with several key facts in it to the first person who then had to repeat it to the next person and so on.  As was expected with this elaborate version of Chinese Whispers, the knowledge experienced a significant level of degradation the further it passed down the line, details were lost and people started to fill in the gaps with their own, wrong, information.

What the speaker was illustrating by this story is that if we don't want details to be lost then we should ensure important knowledge passes through as few hands as possible; the person who has it should speak directly to the person who most needs to receive it. This will help to prevent the disappearance of contextual and tacit knowledge and could, ultimately, save a lot of money.

His job is to put the right people together and to ask the right questions. The questions he asks follow the system of OPEC: open questions - probe for more information - examine it in order to validate key information and close the conversation. To demonstrate what he meant by this we were asked to work with a partner and take it in turn to use these types of questions to find out a particular topic we had chosen. It was harder to do than I thought, especially with a full room of people doing the same thing. However, I did get to find out about one LIKE member's love of music and I was able to share my interest in yoga and how I had applied some of its principles to the workplace!

While I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this type of knowledge transfer in my current professional life, I can see the importance and value it would have to an organisation. I know many organisations, including my own, hold leaving interviews - it would be interesting to discover how these happen in practice.

Attending these events is also opening my eyes to the variety of knowledge and information roles out there and it gives me a little hope that if I were to leave the academic sector there are other routes I could take and I would be working with a lovely group of interesting and dedicated professionals.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 23 -THE END?

I've made it - sanity intact, well almost...

This is the end of Cpd 23 but, while it may be the end of the program, it isn't the end for me. I still have lots I want to do, some of which are mentioned in the previous Thing 19 blog. I have been introduced to a number of new 'things' including Evernote, Dropbox and Zotero. I have reintroduced Prezi to my life, I'd previously given up on it but used it only a few days ago at the Web Safety CoFHE LASEC event Cat, my colleague, and I delivered and the sky didn't fall down. I'll blog about this later. I've also joined organisations which I wouldn't have thought of joining without Cpd23 and hope to start making the most out of these soon too.

The biggest thing Cpd23 has done for me is to encourage me to really think about the impact of what I do and to connect with others working in the same sector and experiencing many of the same issues and challenges. I hope to carry on the conversation with the contacts I have made through Cpd23 so will continue blogging and tweeting.

I hope the CPD23 page won't disappear as I think it is likely that I will want to visit it again in the future. I know some organisations hold their own mini-cpd to get people's in-house skills up to scratch and I think this is a really good idea. Thank you to all the organisers and contributors - I hope we all continue to communicate and learn from each other.

Cpd23 - Thing 22 - Volunteering

Thing 22 asks us to consider volunteering.

As a child I volunteered for lots of things, mostly charity stuff and helping out every Saturday at the coffee morning. However, as an adult, it is not something I have ever done.  I used to work at a children's bookshop but wanted to break into publishing so was very pleased when I was offered some volunteering work at Hodder. I knew I would have to do this if I wanted to gain any experience. In the end I cancelled it as I was offered my first library post and I decided to see where that route would take me.

Luckily, I have always been in paid work but would volunteer if I knew it would give me a skill of which I knew was lacking or if it was something I genuinely cared about and felt I could help with.

Sadly, I think most decent volunteering intern type posts can only be taken up by people who can afford not to be in paid work, although there will be a small few who take on paid as well as voluntary to pay the bills. While I agree that volunteering is very important for both the volunteer and for the service being provided there is a danger that they will only be given the most menial tasks as these are the wages which are being saved and not be taught the skills they are after. I've heard too that some graduate trainee type posts are like this too - the trainee just keeps doing the basic jobs but doesn't get to move on and be shown all the other tasks which they should be.

This has always been prevalent in the media and politics, as well as other industries which affluent people tend to flock towards. However, the deal is that once you have done your time you will reap the rewards. I'm not sure this is the type of volunteering that people are expecting from libraries. Most likely it will be more like the local charity shop which is regularly closed due to lack of volunteers. Maybe not - with more information sector jobs being scrapped despite the dismal literacy rates and despite the lack of knowledge management amongst government officials we will all have more free time to volunteer!

Cpd23 - Thing 21 - Promoting yourself

Thing 21 is getting us to focus on our strengths and how we promote ourselves.

I generally suffer from crises of self-confidence whenever I have to promote myself, despite knowing I can usually do whatever is being asked of me. Writing my Chartership CV has helped me to identify my strengths as it requires you to write about them separately before writing out the details of employment and education. The downside is that I now have a CV four pages long so need to rectify this quickly!

I have been for a couple of interviews in the past year, where I perhaps wasn't the most obvious candidate but knew I could do the job well. Each time I have come second, so I am now doing my best to strengthen areas of weakness. It still hasn't put me off applying for jobs that I like the sound of even if I don't 100% meet the criteria, as you never know. However, preparing for interviews generally makes me sick for about a week prior so I am not sure that doing this is the best thing, short-term anyway, for my health!

Having been embarrassed once in the past by not preparing enough, I make sure never to make that mistake again. I now read all the reports available, find out stakeholders perceptions and generally make sure I know my stuff about the organisation, both good and bad. Try not to mention the bad though - I did once and was told this was the reason I didn't get the job - oops!

Having started delivering staff and student training and information literacy sessions in my workplace, I have discovered that I enjoy doing it. I hope this will feature in a job I have in the future. I also really enjoy the chance to ,research,develop and/or create things but unfortunately there is now little time for this. I would like to do more of this in the future. Now and again working form home would be lovely too. If anyone knows what type of job I would suit in the information sector then please get in touch!

Cpd23 - Thing 20 - The Library Routes Project

Thing 20 is about our careers. I added a brief post of my route to the Library Routes project for Thing 10, but hadn't really spent a lot of time thinking about it. Looking through other people's posts makes me realise that the journalism and careers advise sectors are really missing out, as it seems that at one time or another we have all tried to follow one of these paths! (Just for the record - I wanted to be a journalist).

I wish I had thought more seriously about what I was going to do when I was younger and that I had tried to get more relevant experience. While at college and uni, I worked at various places including factories, a fast-food outlet and a frozen foods retailer. Despite not being closely linked with the type of career I want they have taught me two things, 1 - I am capable of offering good customer service to angry, drunken and hungry people so anyone else is a doddle and 2 - if I'm having a bad day at work it could always be worse!
Jo Alcock, at LibraryCamp, stated her intention to research what libraries can learn from retail and having now a background in both I am finding it all quite interesting.

In my home town, there wasn't a great deal of aspiration and success usually meant you'd been given a council house. I think this is why I wasn't really sure where I was going because there was little advice or inspiration on offer, however, the more I am introduced to the great array of things people do the more excited I become about the possibilities. I now make the most of every opportunity I am given, whether it be training, a meeting, a project and regularly volunteer for things even if I can't ascertain their immediate worth because you never know where it might lead. This attitude has stopped my current job from becoming stale and so far it has increased my skills in elearning, presenting, training and improved my knowledge of issues in the information and educational sector as well as it becoming much easier to talk to people at various hierarchical levels.

My next step is to start looking through job descriptions I may have discounted in the past for being too far above my skill or experience level and try to fill in some of those gaps.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Library Camp 2011

On Friday 7th October I made my way up to Birmingham after work to attend Library Camp on the Saturday. Meghan Jones and I managed to get lost at 11.30 pm but eventually we made it to our lodgings and to the camp the next day. As many of you know by know - it wasn't in a library and there was no camping involved, however it was full of people passionate about libraries (note I don't say librarians!)

It was a fantastic day and I met lots of great people, many of whom I'd already connected with on Twitter. Due to the amount of people, I didn't get to speak to everyone I wanted but did manage to have conversations with a fair few which I hope will continue. I'm just going to cover the main things which stood out for me:

The Venue: was a fantastic place with rooms large enough to hold the conversations in and to keep mingling without being trapped in a corner. I think the sessions worked better where the chairs were in a circle so discussions could happen more naturally.

The Organisation: all occurred far better than I was expecting. Because all the ideas had been pitched at the beginning, people could decide what to go to. Occasionally, they clashed but I think this is always going to happen at whatever type of conference you attend, unless repeat sessions occur. I guess at next year's session, more people will want to propose discussions and there will need to be a fair way of deciding who gets what, for example, not letting people pitch for several. I also think that sessions should be pitched prior to the event via the wiki so more time could be spent on the day discussing the topics.

Session 1: Transliteracy: bridging the transition from school and further education to higher education - led by Jo Alcock and Jean Allen

I found all of the sessions fascinating and have taken away ideas from all of them. A lot of people referred to Further Education (16-18) as school, presumably because they were used to 6th forms. Once I realised this I felt I understood things much better! The session reminded me to not assume that everyone has a PC and to speak the language of academics. I was interested to hear that the University of Brighton and UWE have an information literacy module for teachers. I think this would be a good resource to put in our intranet pages for teaching and learning. I'm also going to look at the research report by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan have completed looking at information literacy.

Session 2: Cutting services while maintaining them 

I though this was incredibly relevant considering the cuts to the sector. The session focused mainly on public libraries but it did give me some useful tips, for example, to check what students are saying about our service on social networking sites and find ways of demonstrating professional activities before they become too watered down.

Session 3: What libraries can learn from retail - led by Jo Alcock and Anna Martin.

 Many of the details of the session came from this post on Jo's blog. I have already ordered the books mentioned and I'm looking forward to reading them. My institution has already put into practice many of the suggestions mentioned but there are some simple things we can still do, for example, leave the returns trolley out and deliver some training on how to spot different characters. Jo Alcock is going be researching this area and I think I will pay close attention!

Session 4: The Higher Education experience in a Further Education environment - led by me!

 Despite there being quite a few shouts of approval when I pitched, there weren't a great many attended, however, this did mean it was much easier to chat (I think they all attended the embedding session which I really wanted to go to as well but thought it would not to turn up to my own!). I wanted to find out how people were creating the Higher Education experience for HE students in an FE setting and people had a variety of experiences to share. For example, some institutions are focusing on open source databases rather than subscription ones for their HE students, some had different opening hours for students depending on whether they were HE or FE and there was much discussion over licensing agreements and the different types of study spaces available to each group. The overall consensus was that it was difficult to please two very different types of stakeholders! I've got a lot to do regarding this subject and no doubt you will hear from again regarding it.

Session 5: Challenges facing academic libraries and collaboration with other sectors - led by Liz Jolly

There was a lot of discussion at this session regarding cross community collaboration under one roof, the Hive at Worcester, is an example of this practice. While I can see it saves money and may increase the interactivity amongst the community, I am a little wary of it - are students paying £9000 a year really going to accept sharing their resources with a member of the public, even if they have paid their council tax? I'm concerned that all this amalgamation might lead to the watering down of services, however, I'm willing to be proved wrong on this matter if it's all good for society!

Overall, Library Camp was definitely worth attending to. I was able to take part in some illuminating conversation and being in a room with so many passionate people has helped to increase my motivation just at a time when it was needed - so thank you Library Camp organisers and attendees. I hope to see, hear and read more of you in the future!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Like 29 - Connecting Information with Innovation

On Thursday I attended another of the events organised by  LIKE (London Information Knowledge Exchange). The speaker was John Davies. and he was talking about TFPL’s recent report “Connecting Information with Innovation” ( The survey examined knowledge and information management skills and roles across a range of participating organisations. As one of the report’s authors, he was explaining the implications for 21st Century Information Professionals.

After he spoke of the report's findings, he asked us several questions including how our role fits into Knowledge Management, what or who gives us the authority to do what we do and what's more important as an attribute; vision, dogmatism, ability to meet deadlines etc. We were then asked to discuss each question in turn then share our findings.

Initially, I could not see how my role fit into the broader spectrum of knowledge information management, but , after discussing my role with several of the people on the 'fishcake' table and after a  few glasses of wine, the group of people I were with expressed surprise at this and called me (amongst other things) a person responsible for knowledge transfer, a squirrel and an onion with may layers! They also said it seemed like I did a heck of a lot - which is something I could have told them straightaway! So I now feel I know my place in the grand scheme of knowledge information management, which is no mean feat.

There were a number of contentious topics discussed amongst all this especially over knowledge management versus librarianship and whether definitions are important. One lady described how when writing her CV, she didn't use job titles as she believed them to be meaningless. Others agreed that job titles never seemed to represent anything. Many concurred that this was the case but unimportant in the scheme of things. Those who worked for recruitment firms, on the other hand, found that it was making their job much more difficult.

When discussing what attributes we considered as important for someone working in the KIM sector, I mentioned the long and still ongoing debate on LinkedIn where no-one can decide on a particular attribute. In my opinion, one good attribute does not a great information professional make! A mix is required -  just like a good variety of skills are required in any organisation. Surprise was expressed at there being no mention of leadership in the TFPL report as this is an attribute worth having if anything is to ever get done.

Overall I had a lovely time, met some great people and found out more about what is happening in the wider sector. It also greatly encouraged me to feel part of it.
The next session is focusing on knowledge transfer and making it stick so, considering the amount of time I spend delivering training, I will definitely be attending it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 19 - Catch up and reflection

Thing 19 is catch up and reflection time.

Since I started CPD23 I have learned many new things; some of which I have implemented and others I have put on my good intentions list.

Blogging - I have actually quite enjoyed blogging but still find it faintly ridiculous that I am writing for a current total of seven followers - I feel like Snow White, except that I'm the one who's 5ft! It is good for reflection and it  encourages me to do so fairly straight away. I am going to carry on blogging even when CPD23 has finished as I will continue being part of the information profession who are continually developing and it is a useful reminder of some of the things I've been up to. I've also enjoyed reading other's blogs - I access them through Google Reader or new ones via Twitter - I still need to review my choice of blogs regularly to ensure I am reading a good selection of what's available.

Branding - I think I'm getting better at this. I now have a consistent profile across the various social media platforms I am on, however, I do need update them more regularly than I am doing.

Twitter, Google Docs and Reader, and RSS Feeds - I use all of these much much more than I did previously. Not to say I wasn't using them but just that they now feature in my everyday life and I don't have to remind myself to use them. All these tools have proved very useful and I will continue to use them. I would recommend that everyone uses them. For example, I found out about LibraryCamp through Twitter and it was sold out within the day. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go if I didn't follow tweets. I'm going next week - if it turns out to be rubbish I'll blame Twitter for getting me carried away!

Dropbox, I am now using to store my Chartership Portfolio after the episode with my workplace server. I'm not allowed to download it at work in case people use it for sharing music files so that's the only downside to it. I also can't download Evernote at work. which is a shame because it would have proven very handy when researching web safety and digital literacy recently. I would have been able to save all my notes and relevant websites to one page which would have saved me quite a bit of time. I am currently using it to save ideas for Christmas presents and for decorating my home.

Going through my blogs I realised I had set plans to:

  •  buy kittens
  •  learn Spanish
  •  write articles
  •  and continue involvement with peers. 

Gratuitous shot of kittens as evidence!

  • I'm doing the Spanish BBC Course
  • I've written more blogs and one article which is yet to be published. I still want to keep plugging away at this as I'd love to see my name in print.
Lastly, I am still maintaining my involvement, as it has been the greatest benefit of doing the CPD23 course. I am now closer to my peers and have felt that I am part of the community. I look forward to seeing some of them at LibraryCamp and also the CoFHE LASEC web safety event.