5 things I learned – March ’07

March 28, 2007


Tim Milburn is host of this month’s Rapid Fire Learning at Joyful Jubilant Learning. Check out Tim’s item 4 and learn what he puts in front of his personal “greater than sign.”

Here are 5 things I learned this month.

Zac Crain for Dallas Mayor 2007. Paid for by the Crain for Mayor Campaign.1. Watching the unraveling of Zac Crain’s campaign to become the next mayor of Dallas, I (along with everyone else) learned that social networking alone is not enough to create a viable campaign. Despite having over 1500 “friends” on myspace, Crain was unable to secure the 473 valid voter signatures required to get on the ballot.

SXSW Interactive2. I learned that the next best thing to attending this month’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin is watching the videocasts or listening to the numerous podcasts offered online. [Just click on the image.]

jjl_lawb_banner.jpg3. I learned (from Dave) that if you “Cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one.” I also learned that JJL’s A Love Affair with Books introduced many outstanding books through a series of excellent reviews.

Social Media Club4. I learned that belonging to a particular generation (age) is only one of the determinates of whether individuals use social media to make online connections. I learned from Ann that curiosity and flexibility are factors, as well as how much utility one gains from online exchanges. Sunni adds that being generally comfortable with technology makes a huge difference when we start to use specific social media tools. Jason adds that the biggest factor may be how comfortable someone is with communicating personal messages in public, open forums.

go.jpg5. I learned practical techniques for identifying which professional activities make you feel strong and how to play to your strengths for the good of yourself, your team, and the organization. All of this courtesy of one book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. I recently enjoyed hearing Marcus speak in person (a story for another post.) He speaks as well as he writes, with a pleasant British accent to boot!

Well that’s it for me. How about you? Why not share your Rapid Fire Learning by leaving a comment here or writing on your own blog with a trackback to Tim’s Post?

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Recognizing the two types of knowledge workers on your team

March 12, 2007

Interesting discussion over at Future of Work that provides some insight for teams. In an effort to better define and understand “knowledge workers,” authors Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham explore two types:

Knowledge Executors and Knowledge Generators

Knowledge Executors are those workers who apply existing knowledge by manipulating information through processes created or invented by others. Knowledge Generators, on the other hand, create new knowledge by manipulating information to develop new solutions to a given problem, or to create new concepts or products.

Following these definitions, my take is that Knowledge Generators produce new knowledge by manipulating or combining existing knowledge, whereas Knowledge Executors put knowledge to use for tangible applications.

I suspect that most knowledge workers engage both as Executors and as Generators in their daily activities. However, each team member will likely lean toward one or the other end of the spectrum based on their job description and individual propensities.

Knowledge Generators cultivate networks

A key difference regarding the two types of knowledge workers was added by a commenter, Larry West, and reprinted here.

Successful Knowledge Generators on the other hand, seem to naturally be excellent networkers. As Daniel Goleman points out in his book, Emotional Intelligence, star performers are often people who cultivate a network of fellow Knowledge Generators who they can tap into for quick solutions or ideas. As active contributors to such networks, they tend to quickly respond to those in their inner circle and earn the privilege of quick response in return. Knowledge Generators also have networks of trusted colleagues that they can use to test new products, services or concepts before disseminating them. The key for me is membership in multiple groups or networks is very typical of Knowledge Generators whereas Knowledge Executors are less likely to be members of diverse groups.

The notion that Knowledge Generators build and rely on networks seems accurate. In order to create new knowledge, we typically need input from multiple sources. New and diverse knowledge serves as a sort of incubator for nurturing new thoughts, ideas and perspectives.

That’s why it is often true that the team members who come up with the creative solutions to tough problems are those who also read constantly, blog, talk to others across the organization, and have many outside contacts.

These same team members may not be the best at implementing their ideas. Thus teams also need Knowledge Executors to dig in and make sure that the creative solutions get applied properly and achieve their purpose.

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