Many people say management is an art form, and I suppose on some level they're right. But there's an art term that is really appropriate for managers, and it has nothing to do with being the artist, and everything to do with helping people learn as a team. Instead of being the artist, try being the curator.
It used to be that we had to ask, how can I find the information I need? Now the problem seems to be, "Help, I have too much information available. How do I tell what's relevant, and what's right and what's nonsense?". That's where curation comes in. David Kelly described it in a recent post on the website of the American Society for Training and Development, curation .
"Consider the most common example of curation: the museum curator. This person does not create content in the traditional sense. He or she listens to what is going on, and finds topics that resonate with museum guests. He or she scours the globe for artifacts related to that topic, and organizes the artifacts in such a way that guests are taken on a learning journey as they experience the exhibit".
Kelly's point was that this is the evolving role of what used to be called "the training department" and is now called "organizational learning". I agree that that has become their main goal, but we all know what happens to good teams and managers while waiting for the nice folks in Training (ok Learning) to get it together.
So why is curation so important?
- You need a common description of the job and a common language.
- Some content disagreed with other content on the same topic. Who's right?
- How can you tell quality content from nonsense?
- Once an effective piece of learning has been identified, is it in a form that it's easily accessed by all concerned, or does the next person have to go hunting for it and hope they find it?
We'll be talking a lot about this topic in the coming months, but here are some things that managers can do right now to be of assistance:
- Talk to your team about what they think they need to learn, then share resources within your group. People may already know of great sites, blogs, podcasts or training opportunities outside of what your company currently offers.
- Use your shared file sites, SharePoint or project management tool to create a database of useful learning.
- Work with your "Learning" folks (I'll get into the habit eventually). They'll often appreciate you coming to them with resources, and they'll know you're being a team player and not going rogue on them.
If you are reading this blog, you're already aware of what a great tool Management Issues is. Even though I have done my last Cranky Middle Manager podcast, there are 316 episodes of great content to choose from (the blog is still up and the archives are all there, so help yourself).
If you're looking for effective and inexpensive training options for leading virtual meetings, online presenting skills or assessing and creating great remote teams, may I humbly suggest a quick look at the offerings from GreatWebMeetings.com.
At any rate, if you can help guide, locate and share your team's learning you'll go a long way to helping them ramp up and improve. You don't have to be a great artist yourself to be a curator, you just need to know where to find great stuff and share it effectively.