Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Playing with Identity

The Network Wall at Up To All of Us.2014  Thanks Craig for the pic.

I wrote this back in May 2014 and never posted it.   
There has been a lot of personal ground covered since that time - which explains the recent quiet.

Figured this could serve as an introduction to what's coming next :)
My job has been changing over the past year or so.

I'm doing a lot less eLearning instructional design and development.
A lot less instructional delivery.
A lot less of the stuff I've been doing the past 14 years.

I'm doing more strategy, systems design, thinking, talking.

I'm trying to provide an environment that allows people to find what they need and collaborate easily.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've become convinced that "learning" happens whenever someone reaches out for information or reaches out to another to connect.

How do I create an environment that allows that to happen?
Or at the very least, doesn't make it hard to do?
When I was talking to Aaron about what to put up there to identify myself, he said "Be an Information Architect.  It's way cooler than Learning Architect and in the wider world you will get more traction."

Did some surface digging as to what this was.  Yeah...it sounded better and felt righter than anything else I had been toying with.

- Business Analyst - I've seen it defined as "process change manager."  In practice, it is often requirements management. I do a lot of this.  In Learning and Development, we call this Needs Assessment.  But it is far from the only thing I do.

- Program Manager - managing a collection of projects related to a program or service.  I'm kinda doing that, but it is more keeping track of what is going on that touches my world.  I initiate very few projects - mostly linked to my LMS.  The rest is other IT projects with products I might be able to leverage in my own ecosystem. I'm not terribly interested in building a parallel "learning environment". So that's not quite right.

- Knowledge Manager - encouraging folks to share knowledge with the greater organization.  Yeah...I do that and am working on that, but again it is a piece of what I am doing.
And then, there are the "architects".  

- Information Architect - I do a lot of curation and looking at how to make it easier to find information in our environment.  But again, it is not the only thing I am doing.  And the digital focus isn't quite it either, because a lot of information is housed in people.  See Knowledge Manager.

- Business Architecture - Seems to be another "Process Improver" type role - attempting to map tools / technologies to solving problems.  What problem are we trying to solve? What is the process in place to solve the problem now (if there is one)? What changes need to be made? What tools exist to help us? What tools need to be put in place?  Seems to require an understanding of the culture, the individual people that make up the culture, and the tools/technologies available (or needed) as well as an understanding of the problem (which is often tied up with the people and culture).  I like the idea of solving problems vs. just identifying problems.

- Learning / Performance Architect - This is Gary Wise's title for himself.  I've been adopted by the SWAT team as a bit of a mascot / translator between them and the end users.  This might be the closest "title" / discipline.  But I think Gary has this area cornered.  I'd feel a bit fake if I claimed this for myself.

I also wonder if "architect", as a concept, implies a level of permanence that doesn't exist.
On my drive between Monticello, FL (visiting my uncle) and Orlando - it dawned on me that I am really an Ecosystem Tender. Nursing an ecosystem to be its healthiest state.

In my case, I'm really a "Learning Ecosystem Tender." In this case, what I have defined as the learning environment - or "where people go when they think they want to learn something, even though they are learning stuff each time they talk to someone or look for information..."

Problem is - that's not really a discipline.  Neither is "Other Duties as Needed".

Generalists get such a bad rap.
But these are the folks who can play in the spaces.
Relate unrelated things.
Find solutions that may fall between recognized disciplines.

Maybe we should make up a "discipline" of generalists.
Codify what makes us folks tick and turn it into a "trainable" field.  With mastery paths and such.
Though that feels like that defeats the purpose.

Meanwhile...I'll keep playing.


Eric said...

Huzzah for generalists! I've come to accept that being a generalist in a world of specialists will mean I never quite fit into most organizations and communities. But that's okay.

And I think it is possible to specialize in being a generalist. I don't know about making it a trainable field, though - I'm not sure I can describe how to become one :)

Wendy said...

Eric - I like your phrase "unrepentant generalist" and have been lobbying to get that put on my business card (no success yet). What got me thinking about it as a "trainable field" was Overlap. If we can train people to be "design thinkers" - why can't we train people to be generalists? Can't wait to explore that idea with you at Up2Us 2015!