Demographic Time Bomb / Knowledge

Just back from a meeting where I faced for the first time the notion of “demographic time bomb” in relation to knowledge.

We are living in an era of vast social change and this notion should be taken into consideration in the preparation of any long-term project: political, economical and social. This concept involves several factors: the fact that population is ageing, unemployment, low birth-rate etc.

But have you ever thought about this concept in relation with knowledge? I started working in my twenties and I will probably retire in my seventies. That means that I have accumulated knowledge and expertise for 50 years. If I suddenly retire what will happen with my knowledge? Is anyone going to store it and re-use it, or it will simply die with me.

Let’s think about the health care sector: imagine if a consultant retires after a 40 years service without leaving notes or documents. Can you see the big damage that the organisation is going to face? That means that a big bulk of knowledge and expertise will be lost forever, and that the new generation will take years to try re-build it.

CIPD stated: the UK face serious skills shortages by 2035 unless employers change their approach to workforce planning.It said that something needs to be done to ensure that the hole left by retiring workers can be adequately filled.

knowledge-sharingSo, as information specialist how can I prevent this? As a librarian how am I supposed to preserve and store information/expertise and knowledge? I think that the real challenge here is starting a new culture where people actually share and store information. Rather than imposed this attitude should be vocational. We  desperately need a  policy and a place where to share, collect and archive knowledge, otherwise that might be lost due forever.

This is why nowadays terms like “knowledge retention”, “knowledge management (KM)” and “community of practice (CoP)” are so recurrent in the information sector.

This is a big mind-shift that requires a clear vision, including structure and process, organizational culture, and information technology. Let’s get ready.

Facebook, No Thank you

Today I celebrate three years without a personal Facebook profile.

Regrets? None.To be honest I do not even remember how it felt having a profile and being addicted to it.

It was funny how I made the decision.One day I simply said to myself:

  1. Do I really need to spend hours viewing pics/status about people that I do not even know? Simple answer: no.
  2. Do I really need to spend hours trying to show people how amazing is my life? Simple answer: no.
  3. Do I really need to spend hours believing that people around me are having such an amazing life or terrible one and constantly complaining about it? Simple answer: no.

Negative sides:
Friends/People annoyed by the fact that I don’t have a Facebook account. So sorry (lying).
People do not remember my birthday or my surname – That’s so interesting. Our device/social network platform IS our external hard drive.

Positive sides:
Free time – I can use that to study, cook or cuddle my cat…or husband.
No pressure to share everything.
When I meet friends in UK or Italy I have actually something to share and say.
I have a private and real (happy and simple) life.  I don’t have to show my OMG amazing life.
I am not involved in stupid and useless catfight on the web.
I am in touch with real friends in an old and simple fashion way.
I am not obsessed with other’s life. No stress.
I just remember few important birthdays.
Sorry Zuckerberg, no more money with my personal data.

So less virtual happiness – more real one. Peace!

If you have time please visit this Urban Art Project called WEB 0.0 – it’s a sort of Internet “in real life” http://www.biancoshock.com/web-00.html

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Facebook Web 0.0 Copyright – http://www.biancoshock.com/web-00.html

Working in a hospital: a spiritual shade

Hospital corridorIn my current work I confront myself everyday with the hospital environment. In order to get in to the library I pass in front of A&E dept and cross a long corridor that cuts through different depts like emaetology, anaesthesia and urology.

Everyday I meet people waiting to be called. One day I even assisted to a collapse in a corridor (luckily a nurse was just behind this person). I think this is the price of working IN this sector. I won’t define it naively sad but this is its essence.

Despite the fact that I do not relate directly to patients, I feel the presence of illness, hopes and pains. I guess this is the reason why I define “spiritual” working in a hospital.

Working here helped me to realise how I am lucky to be healthy and how life is volatile and unpredictible. So, less complaints and enjoy your time.

I found a way

Turning badgesSitting on the grass at Llanbadarn campus I reflect on my last year not only academically but also professionally. Just few things happened: I moved from Surrey to West yorkshire, I got a new job, adopted a cat and I am now buying my first house. Gladly I managed to find time to complete the first year assignments.

Last September I was working in a cozy academic library environment. I had few responsabilities and my academic journey was at the very begininning (again). In my mind I was framing a career in the information retrieval sector, let’s say about cataloguing and acquisition.

One year later, I still hope to work in an art sector but I am actually working in the health library sector as Services Librarian. I am now in charge of a small team and I regularly serve clinicians helping them retrieving evidences. Terms like evidence-based approach, critical appraisal, literature search and quantitative research are now part of my everyday vocabulary.

How did I end up working in a health library? I have been simply offered and accepted a job. My first three months have been really taxing, not only because I had to recalibrate my focus on the health sector but at the same time I had to consider the fact that there was a team relying on my decisions. I had to assimilate quite quickly new procedures, familiarise with new medical databases and specific information needs. On the top of that I had to adapt to a new LSM, I moved in fact from SirsiDinyx to Heritage.

Do I regret it? Absolotely no. In just few months I drastically expanded my knowledge and I can now compare two similar but different environments: the academic library and the healthcare one.

New unlocked experiences/skills: managing a team (!!!), teaching to 1:1 or to groups, depth knowledge of health databases, liason with consultants, budgeting (!!!), managing subscriptions, cataloguing using the Wessex scheme, planning social media content, editing current awareness bulletins and sorting my mail box.

I feel being on a very steep learning curve and I’ve never expected working in a hospital. What’s next?

The unpredictable nature of job interviews

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During the last months I have been invited to three job interviews up North (the fourth is coming soon) and “after careful consideration they regret to inform me that on these occasions they have decided not to progress my application any further”.

Oh well…it’s life!

I have to admit that I have enjoyed taking part to those recrutment processes mainly for two reasons. First I had the opportunity to visit universities, explore libraries and meet professional people. The other one is that I am now “familiar” with the process and the kind of questions asked.

So, why am I still looking for a job If I feel confident of my ability and skills? Well, simply because I have under control only the 40% of the job interview selection. Let me explain my theory:

I have under control just my personal job interview performance, that I evaluated around the 40%. I can be brilliant, have a connection with the panel, be relaxed and enthusiastic however it’s not enough.

On the other hand there’s another 40% derived from the “others’ performances”. I don’t know who I am going to be compared to, maybe there’s someone with a lot of experience, maybe internal, maybe with great answers. Who knows?

Up to this point the situation is quite balanced: 40% VS 40%, and here it comes the mysterious and unpredictable 20% that determines the final score. I call it luck, vibes, sync. It is obviously true that, as any other candidates, I am marked agains neutral criteria however if two candidates are closed with their marks the final result is determined by “others factors”. Maybe the manager is looking for someone quite and that fits into a particular team. In this section I would include also scenarios when shortlisted candidates drop the offer down or they do not come to the interview.

All of this just to say that I am optimistic and on zen. Wish me luck for the next interview. May the 20% be with me!

Happy working

What does make you happy in your working place? I was reading Daniel Fujiwara’s essay (2015) about happiness related to well-being and quality of life and I found particularly interesting the fact that government policymakers are trying to measure its level.

Does your University’s management team or manager investigate/review the level of employee happiness?

Let’s start from the point that happiness makes people more productive. However it’s quite difficult to define what happiness is first because it’s a subjective feeling and secondly as human beings we experience a momentary happiness or a long-term one.

If I had to prepare a survey in order to assess the level of happiness I would explore the following key points:

  • Motivation contributes to improve the performance of organisations. Motivated employees are more likely to promote their organisations as a positive place to work, “thus attracting more dynamic and high calibre staff” (Baldwin et al.,2014). As a driving force it increases the employee’s sense of self-efficacy and creates “sustainable and enduring change through people, because it’s people who deliver results, not programs or emotions” (Pryce-Jones & Lindsay,2014).
  • Life work balance.  As time, energy and money are limited resources we are asked to rationalise them in a balanced dance. Koubova and Buchko (2013) explored the nature of this balance. Are balance work and family roles two goals contradictory or complementary? “Managers with well‐developed emotional intelligence (EI) will be better able to understand employees’ family problems, tolerate personal needs and find solutions to meet these needs in order to reestablish employees’ balance and job performance” (Koubova and Buchko, 2013).
  • Understanding as acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences.
  • Healthy working environments

Working it’s an important part of our life (we need money!) but how we measure the actula level of happiness? Do we base it on data such as income? Debate still open.

Reference

Baldwin, C., Jose, A. G., Kumar, V., & Luis Rocha-Lona. (2014). Personal development review (PDR) process and engineering staff motivation. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25(6), 827-847. doi:10.1108/JMTM-01-2013-0001

Fujiwara, D. (2015). Happy economics. in Lauson, C. History is now: 7 artists take on Britain, exhibition catalogue, London: Hayward Gallery.

Koubova, V., & Buchko, A. A. (2013). Life‐work balance: emotional intelligence as a crucial component of achieving both personal life and work performance. Management Research Review, 36(7), 700-719. doi:10.1108/MRR-05-2012-0115

Pryce-Jones, J. & Lindsay, J. (2014). What happiness at work is and how to use it. Industrial and Commercial Training, 46(3), 130-134. doi:10.1108/ICT-10-2013-0072

Great things never came from comfort zone

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Resigned! BOOM!

I am leaving my full-time permanent job in the library, good colleagues/friends I have been working with for two years. Just 13 working days left before my actual last day.

It was not an easy decision but life is about decision. It took courage, but it is my right move. On my list family comes first. Instead of waiting for perfection, I run up North with what I’ve got and I’ll try to fix it as I go.

How am I feeling? A mixture of sadness and excitement. I am deeply sad about leaving my friends and colleagues but equally excited about moving away beyond my comfort zone. I’m scared of being unemployed soon but equally intrigued to looking for a new job.