Reflection on IS40370

Looking back on this module I realise I have learned a lot about management and how organisations run. I have found many aspects of the course very interesting but I have to admit my favourite aspects of the course have been the in-class discussions and the guest lectures. I find it is really helpful to have insight from people with experience and to be able to share what you have learned from your own experiences. While the reading is necessary in many ways, it is difficult to manage the large workload in a course of this kind and sometimes the large amounts of reading can be overwhelming. I found that the discussions and guest lecturers provided us with an insight of theory in practice and illustrated some of the concepts we were dealing with it in a way that made them far easier to understand and relate to our own experiences or our own comprehension of the subject matter. I have enjoyed writing the reflections as they have helped me to organise my thoughts and relate the subject to my previous experience. They are also good to look back on to remember certain aspects of the course.

I have found the group project very interesting and I am very happy with how it has progressed as I have built a Capstone proposal with a few members in relation to what we had been working on. I have always been wary of working in groups but I felt that some of the earlier lectures were very helpful in this regard. I had not considered the different ways in which people learn before and I hope that learning about this has made me a more patient person in regard to people learning at different paces in different ways. I also thought the class which dealt with being assertive in a group was very helpful as it showed us all how to deal with putting ideas forward or how to help quieter members of the group.

I have mentioned that before entering this course I had no work experience in the library world but I think this course has helped me to realise that I have transferable skills. The fact that marketing and justifying the place of the library is becoming increasingly important is something which actually will allow me to play to my strengths. I think this has really helped my confidence levels and made me even more determined to pursue this career.

Reflection on my Learning

Sarah Kennedy IA Report

I have chosen a report I had to write for my Information Architecture class. This report was to outline the new Virtual Research Environment for Information Architecture Researchers that I was required to develop. The reason I have chosen this is because it is something completely different to anything I’ve had to write before, either in an academic or work capacity. The assignment was to complete the report as though the audience would be colleagues on the web development team working on the VRE project with me. I found this to be a very interesting if somewhat daunting task. There was many aspects of this assignment that I had never experienced before. Due to the fact my background is in retail and in academic writing I have never had to write a business style report. The fact that this was so different to an essay was something I found difficult to get my head around. Our aim in this project was to provide as much information as possible with the least amount of writing. We were to write as though we would be presenting this to busy business people who did not have time to read a lengthy report.

We were required to complete Wireframes and Blueprints as part of this assignment and these were also very new to me. I found after completing this report I could look at websites in a completely different way. I think that before this course I hadn’t realised the amount of work that needs to go into developing an easy to use and accessible website. This task also allowed us to use our creativity as we were creating and building this project from scratch and this report was in someway our instructions for building the website. We had to develop the site name, page labels, navigation etc. I think the biggest thing I took away from this project is that it is important to understand what is being asked of you and deliver what is required of you. If I had written an essay for this assignment I would have failed the class. I think this is a great lesson for the future. Our lecturer explained that the business world is very different to the academic world and that we will need to understand what is being asked of us.

I think that even if I don’t continue on to a role that requires me to use the technical skills I have learned in this class, I can take with me the knowledge that I can write as instructed and develop my skills to suit the tasks I am undertaking even if they are new to me. I also enjoyed the organisation that this task required, the forethought and the fact that this assignment was a step in a process of assignments, all of which worked together.

Marketing and Communication

This week we have been learning about marketing and communication skills in relation to working in IS and libraries. I think that these skills are hugely important for graduates entering the job market. Employers are becoming increasingly aware that these soft skills are necessary for people to achieve success in their careers. Although people may be highly skilled and exceptional when it comes to the technical aspects of their positions, they will find their work may be overlooked or forgotten about if they cannot communicate adequately. More and more in this course we are realising that librarians have to justify their positions in regard to budget cuts etc. and it is an unfortunate trait in the profession that historically librarians have not been very good at marketing themselves, their skills or their part in their organisations. I believe that this is something that has to change drastically in the future. We have seen in the literature and in the comments by guest speaker’s that this is the case.

My background is in fashion retail and although I was not working in this area for very long and I had no intention of pursuing a career in the area I believe I have benefited greatly from the communication aspect of the job. Retail is about selling; selling the brand and selling yourself as a brand ambassador and I believe that is what we need to achieve as future librarians. We have to be able to promote our skills and services and make people aware of just how necessary we are in the age of information overload. As part of my previous employment I was nominated as a representative of the staff for all levels under management in Ireland and had to meet with head office management on a regular basis, I was also involved with hiring and training new staff; experience such as this has become invaluable because I have learned to communicate with different levels on management and staff as well as with customers. When I first started this course I was worried that my experience would not stand to me in this field but I now believe that working in retail has strengthened these skills.  I believe that in a course like the MLIS it is very important to cover this topic and outline the importance of communication to people studying for a career in this area.

I think that the group work aspect of the course and the way in which we are given the opportunity to write these reflections gives us a chance to improve on our communication skills and allows us to gain confidence in presenting ourselves and our thoughts to others. We need to be able to see that we have these skills and present ourselves as such when we enter the job market. We need to advertise who we are and what we do and help others to see our skills.

Innovation

This week we are considering innovation in organisations. This is a very good time to look at the management of innovation due to the increasingly fast pace of emerging technology and the effect of the recession on organisations. As the literature states, “people are being asked to do more with less” and at the same time the organisation has to remain relevant and keep up to date with advances in technology and changes in the ways things are done.

I think the definition that the authors have constructed is one that encompasses the many facets of innovation.

“Innovation is the multi-stage process whereby organizations transform ideas into new/improved products, services or processes, in order to advance, compete and differentiate themselves successfully in their marketplace.” (Baregheh, Rowley and Sambrook, 2009, 1334)

The advent of Web 2.0 and products like e-books and other technology based products are bound to have an effect on information organisations because there has been a total shift from paper/books to computers/tablets. It is interesting that our own library for example, has decided to re-align space in the library from reference books to a library hub. This is an example of innovation management in the organisation. It also shows that the organisation has to develop along with what the user wants or needs from the organisation or it will not survive. I’m currently doing a project of the management of user experience in a library and it is interesting in regard to this literature because there is the question of where the user stands in innovation management. Does the organisation allow the user to be part of the innovation process? What can the user contribute? Is it better to allow the user input as they will be the eventual consumer of the product or service?

I also find the concept of innovation management interesting in regard to the previous topics we have covered such as organisational culture and knowledge management. An organisation has to have a culture that allows for innovation and successful knowledge sharing will also contribute to the goal of effective innovation management. Innovation is not something that can just happen as a once-off, it is an on-going process and therefore has to be deeply embedded in an organisations policies. The reason it needs “management” is because strategic decisions have to be made at many different steps throughout the process and someone has to keep the momentum going. There is a need for a culture that allows for creativity and entrepreneurship in an organisation to allow for innovation.

There are many challenges to innovation. As I have mentioned earlier the effects of the economy and the rate of change are both challenging for organisations but effective management of innovation can overcome these challenges or at the very least lessen their effects on the organisation.