When Things Go Wrong

woods-2-pathsI don’t know if I believe in superstitions….if Mercury is in retrograde, gremlins get in the system or “ghosts” have something to do with my keys always disappearing. All I do know is something is wrong.

Lately, nothing has cooperated. Technology is not working, plans are falling through and desired outcomes are getting delayed or eliminated. So, whether it’s the cosmos out of alignment or the creatures you’re not supposed to feed after midnight, I am stumped as to the bad fortune lately.

Instead of sulking at the number of mishaps, as a true KM professional, I turn to capturing lessons learned and trying to pinpoint items in my control to look toward the future.

Sometimes we learn that items are not in our control, like technology, so all we can do is communicate the current state, apologize for inconvenience and move to a solution, band-aid or take an alternate path. I find the alternate paths, while vexing at first, can lead to great fortune.

I keep reminding myself that rarely do things go 100% according to plan and we should expect the unexpected. So, mishaps can be good. Conflict can lead to learning. Forced alternatives can lead to a better solution that we never would have thought of!

As long as we take time to reflect and dissect with a clear head, “bad” things can be good, and “wrong” turns can lead to the right path.

The Dawn of the Generalist

Is it me or are the lines blurring between Communication, Marketing, Learning and Knowledge Sharing? Usually, these are distinct functions with people who have years of experience and even advanced degrees in the relevant subject matter. Not anymore!

My own path has taken me from Communication (with a Master’s in Communication) to Learning to Knowledge Management to, now, some light Marketing. I pride myself on being a generalist because I feel these disciplines are very related as they all depend on content, messaging, organization and, yes, technology.

The audiences might be different; the objectives may vary but the skills sets needed are similar – listening, coordinating, compiling, distilling, writing, delivering, editing, managing people and projects – all necessary to achieve success in any of these areas.

I think the new bridge tying these areas together is social technology. The social sphere has a distinct and valuable purpose in all of these areas. The ability to connect, publish, engage and respond to people all have a significant role in communicating, marketing, learning and sharing.

Some are not comfortable with the fuzziness of the new frontier of communication generalism but I say embrace this era! Being flexible and having the ability to be plugged into any one of these situations has tremendous value especially in today’s cash-strapped environment.

I, for one, have been anxiously awaiting the time of the generalist. In the past, it has been difficult to articulate the value that someone can bring to the table if you can accomplish a lot of things in a variety of areas without a so-called specialty. Now is the time for generalists to shine!