Why Irrelevant Work Experience Matters?

Many organizations ask for “relevant work experience” when they hire people for open positions. In many cases any other work experience that is not relevant to the current position is ignored. In my opinion, “irrelavant work experience” is important on two fronts:

  • To bring in serendipity and foster innovation
  • To build leadership in the organization

Whether one waited tables at a restaurant or volunteered to clean up the neighbourhood, what really matters is the metamorphosis that happens in the process. In many cases, it is in these so called “irrelevant” circumstances that personal transformation occurs. These are the moments of truth which shape our value system. The situtations we encounter, the people that we meet, the trials and tribulations add new dimensions to what we are as individuals. But does all of this matter when you hire a “Developer” or a “Bank Teller” and so on? It doesn’t as long as you consider people to be another cog in the wheel. If you are serious about innovation in the workplace and building leadership in your organization you need to bring back emotion to the center of your hiring process and your business.

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Information Glut, The Learning Organization & Zen

Tom Davenport had blogged about a information imbalance in the blogosphere sometime back.
He writes : “Most of us are pretty haphazard about what information we need and want to see. We click mindlessly through the blogosphere.”

I have been thinking about the implications of Information Glut on a typical decision making cycle within the enterprise. This in turn has an impact on how quickly organizations learn.
Most of the current conversations around the idea of Enterprise 2.0 seems to be focused on the adoption of blogs and wikis within organizations. However, as adoption of these socio-technical frameworks improves, findability and filtering of relevant content would need to improve as well.

A typical decision making cycle may have the following phases:

  1. Filter out/Find (machine intelligence+community filtering) relevant content and conversations
  2. Sensemaking – Connect,Collaborate and Adapt
  3. Act – Execute
  4. Step back & Reflect

From a “Collaborative KM” perspective content per se may not be sufficient to make a decision. The Sensemaking phase allows peers to connect and collaborate on the fly to make understand the original context and adapt it to new circumstances. This is followed by the Act phase and then the “Step Back & Reflect” phase. With a proliferation of content in Enterprise Blogospheres and Wikis the amount of time you spend on finding and/or filtering out content has to reduce significantly so that the enterprise can focus on the Sensemaking, Act, Step Back & Reflect phases. These are the phases where new knowledge is created and learning happens.

On a ligther note I enjoyed this Zen story that seems to suggest a solution to the information glut problem. Quoting from the story : “Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization.” (Emphasis Mine)