Posted on July 2, 2011.
by Marianne E. Giltrud, Librarian and Adjunct Faculty, The Catholic University of America
I recently posted to the Future Ready, Linked In group the following:
We’ve just gotten back from SLA Annual Conference and the ideas, creativity and connections are still fresh in my mind and the energy was palpable…Where do we go from here? What is our next step to solidify our knowledge and participation in the future? What trends, impacts and disruptions do we need to be keenly aware of so that we can ride the wave of the future??? What does it mean to be an International Organization? What cultural norms and ethnic considerations do we need to be aware of so that we can bridge the gap in a flattened, connected and success based world?
I have been asked to expand on my comments and I am awed and amazed at the opportunity to do so. To that end, I would like to tease out each question above with the hopes that this will provoke ideas, discussion and questions that serve to shape our future now.
Where do we go from here?
I ask this because it seems incumbent upon us to advance our knowledge, skills, and abilities derived from the conference experience. To me, a blog post is a venue to articulate, envision and brainstorm about the future while learning from our past.
In library school, Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat was required reading at a time when many business schools read and discussed it like the Bible. Friedman’s opening session focused us on the question of, “How do we compete in a world that is Flat, Crowded and Disrupted?” He asked us to reach down within ourselves to meet the challenge of the future today by thinking critically about thechallenges and opportunities we face in a global economy. Moreover, in today’s world we confront an unprecedented paradigm shift in the realm of labor and economics. For example, during the Great Depression (1929-1939), jobs creation did not face the significant technological disruptions that we find today. In the economic downturn of 2008-2009, the jobs that were eliminated, are today only being replaced by one technical position whereas before there may have been seven jobs performing that function. That’s a 14% permanent reduction in jobs! We can no longer sit idly by and wait it out. We need to become entrepreneurs in our profession. Inherent in this process, is the need to leverage our creativity, engagement and participation from a global perspective.
What is our next step to solidify our knowledge and decide our participation in the future?
I believe continued discussion in this and other frameworks provides an insightful medium to brainstorm, share knowledge and reflect on the myriad skill sets, that library and information professionals bring to the table each and every day. We are conveners of knowledge who collaborate, facilitate and advance wisdom inside and outside the walls of our organizations. Larry Prusak challenged us to articulate the why’s and how’s, in order to enhance judgment and decision making in a world overwhelmed with knowledge alone. We need to be the lens of “Cognitive Diversity.” This is done through our innate ability to read between the lines, synthesize and evaluate our biases hence render decisions framed in the context of understanding the differences in disparate and opposite ideas. As a profession we are highly skilled to consider the issues and provide arguments grounded in reason, intellect and yes, even virtue.
What trends, impacts and disruptions do we need to be keenly aware so that we can ride the wave of the future???
Thomas Friedman speaks about “Cultural Diversity” and how having individuals from very different cultural backgrounds can bring insight into issues, events and considerations in the world today. What this means is that we may not always be aware of our biases and how they filter how we see the world and our relationship to it. Unfortunately, this limits our viewpoints and tends to shape our thinking in avery narrow way. Moreover, technology has disrupted the world and will continue to do so. Looking to the events in the Egypt, where Facebook was integral to the overthrow of the government shows exactly how intelligent, passionate and informed individuals can shift the outcome of a nation in real time. What does that mean to us? These uprisings are reflective of a global world economy that seeks to level the ground and prove that they can make a difference. If we can anticipate the future and be ready to adapt, then we can move forward and ride the wave into the future.
Bruce Rosenstein challenged us to “Live in More Than One World” by following Peter Druckerian Management philosophy and create a bucket list in key areas of our life to expand upon our skills, reflect and prepare for the future today. I spoke with Bruce at the conference and he said that in his new position at the Leader to Leader Institute, he works locally, engages internationally and is networked to accomplish his priorities across the nation. He has experienced first-hand the economic and technological disruptions today. That experience has provided him with a unique insight not only into his process but recommendations for us to reflect upon as possible ways to manifest the agility necessary in our world today.
What cultural norms and ethnic considerations do we need to be aware of so that we can bridge the gap in a flattened, connected and success based world?
In my undergrad studies, I took organizational psychology from a professor who was writing a book andstudying the perception of Aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia. The purpose of the study was to determine if the subject could identify and replicate the pattern of placing round blocks on the rods inserted on a piece of wood. The tester and the subject faced each other with a wooden plank that had wooden dowels placed upright about an inch apart. The tester placed blocks on the rods, and the subjects not only replicated the pattern but anticipated the next move…What they found out was that, instead of trying to remember the order of placement which we might do, i.e. center first, then right side,left side, etc. that the subjects were reading micro-expressions and nuances in body language to determine where to place the next block. That takes body language and reading a person to a whole new level. My point is that if we are competing with people who have that level of skill as it relates to human relations, negotiations and other interactions do we have that level of insight, awareness, and emotional intelligence to succeed?
To be successful and remain relevant, it is incumbent upon us not only as an organization but also as individuals who are part of the greater whole, to articulate meaningful strategies derived from a “CrowdSourced,” “In the Trenches,” and “Ground Truth” aggregated knowledge framework to improve judgment and decision making on important issues impacting us every day. In order to do this we need to rethink the “aboutness” of our profession and move forward on the path of future ready.
Marianne E. Giltrud, is a Librarian and Adjunct Faculty, at The Catholic University of America where she combines her extensive experience in knowledge services, technology, business, and program planning in support of the University Libraries. Marianne is a member of the D.C. Chapter of the Special Libraries Association Program Planning Committee and Steering Committee Head, the CUA School of Library and Information Science, “A Century of Knowledge, Service and Discovery” Centennial Celebration. A graduate of Catholic University School of Library and Information Science, she has written social science reviews for Library Journal, spoken and made poster presentation at research symposia on a variety of topics including mobile technology, information literacy and digital media and emerging technologies.