Friday, January 26, 2007

January mentoring meeting

My mentor and I met again yesterday. We seem to be meeting every two months despite originally planning to meet monthly. This isn't proving to be a problem but there are a couple of things that need to get done that are coming up so we will probably use all of those monthly meetings in the coming months.

We reviewed my draft Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) draft and discussed a couple of the gaps in it and how best to fill them. There weren't too many gaps; worryingly, ethics was one of them. The other gaps were around a lack of engagement with the profession. I think that my activities are a little thin on the ground here because I am one of those information professionals who works in isolation from others (in my case, I am surrounded by engineers...lunch time briefings and information discussions usually focus on things like the use of hydrogen fuel cells for heavy transport rather than library-related issues). So we have agreed a few actions to move the PPDP forward and to address some of the gaps:

Action: D - put PPDP draft contents into CILIP template
Action: D - create a parallel PPDP document containing after-the-fact analysis
Action: D - start work on long-term training plan
Action: D - make a list of libraries I'd like to visit and make some cold calls
Action: K - contact some colleagues regarding potential visits for me to follow up
Action: D&K - prepare for discussion on ethics at next meeting

And that's it...I am going to try to get the content transferred into the CILIP template today given it's a bit of a copy/paste job - perfect for a Friday afternoon!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bounded Applicability

This is really a small one that I am putting in because it is the kind of thing that I will forget otherwise. Bounded applicability is a term that Dave Snowden uses to describe the limits that any tool, technology or method has. As the tool, technology or method approaches those limits, the cost/benefit ratio begins to become unappealing. Interesting but what’s the point? We tend to use the tool, technology or method more frenetically when really we ought to be recognising the "bounded applicability" of the tool/technology/method and step back to refresh our perspective.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Corporate versus Government

I read an interesting blog posting by Dave Snowden the other day about the context and uncertainties of government (opens in new window) in which he writes about the major differences between industrial and governmental environments within the context of trying to apply commercial models of practice to government activities. The article caught my eye partly because I have worked in both the private and public sectors and I think that the appeal of my CV to the public sector is that it contains private sector experience.

There is a view that in the competitive commercial environment, companies are forced to be lean and efficient while government, with no competition, has become large, wasteful, and inefficient. Dave Snowden’s entry talks about these different environments – government needs to be lean, efficient and effective because it is the only one that citizens have:
"Governments face a far more significant set of issues and problems than those faced by industry, and they face them over longer periods of time without the option of bankruptcy. Citizens cannot buy their services from another government, if their own fails. Neither can they insure against the consequences of a catastrophic failure of their state, they have to live with it. In addition Governments, to a greater extent than industry have to consider multiple interactions and interdependencies between initiatives and actions."

I think that most people would agree with Dave Snowden and what is interesting about this article is that it challenges the very tempting and automatic conclusion that therefore, government should apply the same models as used by industry to become the lean, efficient organisation; government’s unique position means many of these industry models are inappropriate. Consider:
  1. the level of magnitude and the consequences of government action in comparison with industry
  2. the fact that government de facto provides it’s [sic] own regulartory framework, while providing those frameworks to industry
  3. as an entity it carries a burden of responsibility for failure, while industry is constructed on the bases of failure as a market mechanism
  4. government operates as a unit of one, industry has many units within each market
The question is, then, who is developing government-appropriate equivalents to the industry models that have proven to be so useful there?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hello 2007

It has been over a month since I last posted an entry here. Since then, I have been in Canada for a few weeks relaxing with my family. In fact, truth be told, I haven’t been as active on the Chartership front as I would have liked since my daughter was born. It’s like we’ve entered this new dimension where time passes at incomprehensible speeds (except in the middle of the night when she just won’t go to sleep). I have been doing a little reading and concentrating on things at work.

However, it is now time to get back at it. I need to polish up my Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) - actually, it currently consists of a bunch of hand-written notes so actually needs typing up – as Karen (mentor) is not-so-subtly hinting that she’d like to have a look at it. Fair request given I was supposed to have sent over a draft earlier this week.

I also need to sit down and go through all of my files on my home PC for the portfolio. This task has become urgent as the home PC fell over a couple of days ago for the third time in the last year. I keep fixing it and we keep limping along but this time there’s been a hard-disk corruption. Oh dear – I think that it’s time for a new one. I’ve had this laptop for six years so there are a few things that are antiquated about it (e.g. only has USB 1.1 ports and boy are they ever slow). Anyway, I’ve managed to prop it back up again at least enough that I will be able to get what few files are still on the hard drive backed up (about a year ago I started storing files on an external hard drive). A good opportunity to sort through things presents itself…