I have been reflecting on professional development opportunities for collaboration… what’s known in my K-12 world as “professional learning communities,” aka PLCs. It’s funny to me that, unless professionals are given regular opportunities to learn and grow directly with their immediate colleagues, when they are turned loose on something like a convention, they seem to be less likely to cut the proverbial cord and go try something new on their own that they are interested in without a friend. Work friends at a convention together often choose to attend seminars based on each other and only secondarily on their interests. If you never get to see your work friend socially because you are both busting it trying to get the work done, the first chance that you get to take a breath will be to catch up with each other. Might be social, might be work gossip, might be work business. Nonetheless, it’s probably not collaboration time where new ideas can be shared and grown.

Now if there was an incentive to go out there and learn something truly innovative and share it in a creative way, maybe more people wouldn’t fall into the habits I just described. (I recently heard of a TED video about Google, maybe, providing something called a “Fed-Ex day” that inspired just this. I need to find and watch it!)…

Yes, I know that we all as professionals need to be intrinsically motivated to be life-long learners. And for the most part I am. But I’m also a realist who has worked with enough slackers to know that the slackers can stifle the excitement of those who want to learn and share.

2 Responses

  1. nschmolze June 16, 2012 / 5:21 pm

    This is actually very common (Google) in the tech field. I believe the gist of it is one day a week (or a month) is set aside on (work related) but personally motivating projects. The Summer of Code is also quite successful with giving young developers (strong women in tech focus) financial support to complete open source projects that need a shot in the arm.

    An interest of mine is open source and there was a survey some time back in which like 60% of developers stated they used work time and resources to complete projects. It is interesting to ponder if there would be the same reaction to teachers / librarians completing professionally yet not work related projects during the work day.

  2. Kyle June 18, 2012 / 6:26 am

    I think you’ll enjoy the Trends & Debates section of Module 4:

    Google’s 20% time was something I advocated for when writing my Library Journal article, which we’ll read.

    Questions: How do you motivate the slackers? Is this due to a LIS educational experience that was weak on supporting creative, innovative thought? Is this more endemic to our profession as a whole? What can you do as a non-manager to instill an innovative work environment?

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