There's No "One Version of the Truth" in Educating Ourselves
Thanks to Gary Cokins
for the honorable mention in his recent blog post. Gary discusses an article by Craig Schiff entitled "An Incomplete Education: How Not to Get Your Team Up To Speed on Business Performance Management".
Craig's piece made me think about the way we learn about BI and Performance management. It provides a nice description of the pros and cons (mostly the cons), of the various options available and rightly encourages priortizing wisely when limited education budgets are available.
There is no "One Version of the Truth" in educating ourselves on an industry topic. I remember reading a great article in a philosophy class years ago which described how the Truth is like a symphony. It is the combination of various instruments - or perspectives - which come together to make up the reality of the actual song (or truth). No single instrument can play the full symphony alone, only it's respective part. It's the combination of the various contributors which make the symphony - or industry in this case.
To understand an industry, it's important to take a broad view. You need to know the theory, business management guidance, technical management guidance, software, hardware, technical architecture, industry scenarios, legal considerations (regulations - governance, risk, compliance), role guidance, etc. As a friend of mine says, "Our perspective depends on our seat at the table."
And the table itself is not clearly defined when organizations are dealing with the challenge of marrying information and people to try to achieve better results. And guess what, what companies need to achieve success doesn't always fit into one Three Letter Acronym (TLA) - it's not all BPM. Depending on your scenario, related technologies may just as much be at play across ECM, Search, Portals, Collaboration, Unified Communications, etc. So we may be playing more than the BPM fugue... and we may need to sit at more than one table.
As Craig discussed, many things contribute to knowledge on an industry topic - industry conferences, vendor presentations, analysts, researchers, trainers... and yes, books. Each has a contribution to the overall topic, but none encompasses all you need to know on its own. I know I have benefited from all of the above & encourage taking a broad perspective.
Where I learn:
As a learner
: company examples, business execs, technical execs, webcasts, colleagues, partners, consultants, vendor presentations, blogs, industry magazines, industry conferences, analysts, professors, people outside the industry writing/talking about the topic (mass media, newspapers, etc), author presentations (In contrast to the article mentioned above, I have actually found that authors find it difficult to only cover one idea from a book, instead sharing as much as possible about what they have written... this is a natural ocupational hazard when you've spent so much of your time writing something!)
As an author
: getting feedback from readers, workshop participants, individuals applying the concepts in different industries / geographies... all of this is HUGELY rewarding!
As a speaker
: speaking to varying audiences (business, technical, different industries / geos), speaking with people 1:1 who can relate to a concept, or about specific situations they face and ideas for addressing them, or who have different perspectives or interpretations tocontribute.
How aout you? How do you educate your teams? Where and how do you learn?
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