Knowledge management folks have to interact with technology daily. In fact, all knowledge workers have to interact with technology daily. There’s no other way to do your job well in the 21st century. The problem is that those of us who are 40 years old or more learned to be knowledge workers at a time when there was much less technology, and the technology we had didn’t work terribly well. In the nearly 20 years I’ve been in the workforce, we’ve seen enormous changes: from the IBM Selectric to desktop computers to fully mobile computing; from telephones to e-mail to microblogging; from internal memos to enterprise blogs and wikis. And there’s more change coming down the pike.
Are you ready?
Are you sure you’re ready?
Being ready is not just about knowing about the tool or knowing how to use the technology. It’s about changing your attitude and approach to the technology so that you really know how to use it well. For example, if you were trained to find information in a time when information appeared to be scarce, you developed some great sleuthing skills. (Remember having to go to a library, and then to the card catalog, and then to the place on the shelf where the book should have been, only to find it missing? That’s one form of info scarcity — when finding it is hard.) Now contrast that with our current situation, where you can Google “knowledge management blogs” and get 6,760,000 results in 0.15 seconds. That’s not just information abundance, that’s information overload. And that overload calls for different skills; it calls for filtering skills.
In a helpful post, New Work and New Work Skills, Tony Karrer sets out some benchmarks against which we can measure our readiness for 21st century work in an age of information abundance. Here are some of the ways of working he believes we should learn:
- How to take notes on a laptop, PC
- How to work with mobile devices and keep them in sync
- How to effectively filter
- How to reach out and find expertise
- How to use Social Media to Find Answers to Anything
- How to Learn through Conversation
- How to keep track of information, organize it, refind it and be reminded about it
And here’s his quick test to see how well we’ve adopted the change in attitude and approach necessary to master the new technology:
- I effectively use the Google filetype operator
- I know what the Google “~” operator does
- I’m effective at reaching out to get help from people I don’t already know
- I’m good at keeping, organizing my documents, web pages that I’ve encountered in ways that allow me to find it again when I need it and remind me that it exists when I’m not sure what I’m looking for
- I’m good at filtering information
- I’m good at collaboratively working with virtual work teams and use Google Docs or a Wiki as appropriate in these situations
So, take the test and tell me. Do you have what it takes to be an effective knowledge worker in the 21st century?
[Thanks to Bill Brantley for pointing out Tony Karrer’s post.]