Search: Everything Old Is New Again
The InfoPosse -- Inc's team of crack corporate librarians -- reports each month on what's good, bad, and ugly in the world of corporate information. The Posse's biographies appear at the end of the article.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: January is a time when many seek solace and motivation in the possibility of new beginnings. If you too are contemplating a fresh start, you might find inspiration in a book written almost 40 years ago by John W. Gardner. A powerful treatise on personal, institutional, and societal rebirth, Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society (Harper & Row, 1964; reissued by W.W. Norton in 1995) remains as vital as Gardner thinks we all should be. Self-Renewal's focus is on how to create the vibrant organizations and institutions that sustain vibrant societies. Rereading it late last year, InfoPosse member Lisa Guedea CarreÑo found an inspirational work for companies hoping to "mature without stagnating and to be reborn without regressing to chaos and confusion," she says. For those felled by passivity and paralysis, the book provides the philosophical impetus to get going.
A SEEK THAT MAY INHERIT THE EARTH: Search engines are like New York City restaurants: their debuts go largely unheralded, yet the best somehow achieve rapid popularity. Google, the popular fave for several years, should watch its back, says InfoPosse member Christine Klein, who came away from the September/October issue of Online magazine ( www.onlinemag.net) impressed by an enthusiastic endorsement for new-kid-on-the-block Teoma. "I think I may have found my new favorite ... it works like a champ," writes Mary Ellen Bates in the issue's "Online Spotlight" column. Teoma, which was still in beta tests at press time but accessible at www.teoma.com, returns search results in three groupings: Web pages by topics, individual Web pages, and "experts' links," which include only pages that contain lists of relevant links. Klein looks forward to "a Google-Teoma Super Bowl" in 2002.
BEAUTY OF THE BRIEF: Manager's Edge ( www.briefings.com) is a bit like Reader's Digest for business folks. Every month, subscribers receive (either in print or electronically) a selection of cut-to-the-quick management advice culled from books, magazines, and journals. One recent issue featured a pithy (around 200 words) profile of Mervyn's department stores' SWAT teams, which swoop in when key managers are temporarily waylaid or departments find themselves swamped. Another, equally diminutive item described how managers at a regional Coca-Cola plant persuaded truck drivers to comply with a company dress code. "Information can just be absorbed directly into the bloodstream," says InfoPosse member Genevieve Foskett. ( Manager's Edge is published by Briefings Publishing Group. A year's subscription is $97.)
"Subordinate-imposed time begins the moment a monkey successfully leaps from the back of a subordinate to the back of his or her superior and does not end until the monkey is returned to its proper owner for care and feeding."
CLASSIC: Perhaps the best-ever article on the subject of delegation is also about time management and the politics of power. "Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" by William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass, debuted in Harvard Business Review in 1974 and was reprinted in the November-December 1999 issue with new commentary by Stephen R. Covey. Swapping metaphors (the contemporary clichÉ regarding 800-pound gorillas makes that monkey sound a tad trite), the article explains with clarity and wit how managers can avoid becoming walking lint collectors for their subordinates' problems. "Are you carrying a load you shouldn't be?" asks InfoPosse member Klein. "Read this and unburden yourself."
InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea CarreÑo, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, director of knowledge and information management at LifeCare Inc.; Jean Mayhew, director of information and learning at United Technologies Research Center; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.
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