Management inspiration from international-aid workers, finding and using graphics from the Web, and the true meaning of leadership.
Every month the InfoPosse -- Inc's team of crack corporate librarians -- reports in on what's good, bad, and ugly in the world of information.
Letter From Camp: If you want to do business with the world, you must first understand the world, argues McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg. So when a Red Cross official invited Mintzberg to observe management practices at a camp for Rawandan and Burundian refugees in Tanzania, the 62-year-old academic was on a plane before you could say cross-cultural. "Depressing Is Hardly the Word," Mintzberg's account of his African odyssey, appeared on the Web site HR.com in March. The article is short on benchmarkable business practices, but who cares? says InfoPosse member Christine Klein. "Mintzberg describes conventional business systems at work in human and organizational extremis: 500 international aid workers with varying degrees of training attempting to provide food, shelter, and security to nearly 200,000 people who are escaping unimaginable brutality and deprivation," Klein says. "The nimbleness and creativity portrayed in Mintzberg's chronicle should help companies put their own challenges in perspective -- and give them something to strive for."
"Without the permission of the originator of the work, proper payment, or licensing, this cornucopia of eye candy turns into a monumental tease. People who download and reuse copyrighted images from the Web without permission do so at their own risk."
--From "When Image Is Everything," Searcher
Getting Graphic: "Lovely to look at, delightful to hold, but if you incorporate it in your brochures, we mark it sold." That warning doesn't appear on a whole lot of Web sites, but maybe it should. The ease of copying images from the Internet has created hordes of virtual art thieves, many of whom are unaware that they're doing something wrong. A first-rate primer on obtaining rights to digital art -- and on finding the art in the first place -- appears in the January issue of Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals (www.infotoday.com/searcher). In "When Image Is Everything: Finding and Using Graphics From the Web," author Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo "makes the murky waters of Internet image selection run clear," says InfoPosse member Lisa Zwickey. "He tackles copyright issues -- and there are many, many copyright issues -- and offers a multitude of URLs for image files, image-rich sites, and search engines." Even if you don't read the article, you'll want to bookmark the following: www.artcyclopedia.com, www.freefoto.com, and www.freeimages.com (sites that contain free images) and www.arttoday.com and www.corbis.com (sites that offer images for a fee).
Classic: There's a wonderful anecdote in Ronald A. Heifetz's article "Leadership vs. Authority" (from the April 1999 issue of Across the Board magazine) about a Native American woman's lone crusade to eliminate alcoholism in her tribe. Once a week the woman would trek to the local lodge and hold an AA meeting attended by no one but herself and the spirits of her ancestors. Over time other tribe members quietly joined her, ultimately filling the room and overcoming the problem. Heifetz, a lecturer in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, uses the story to illustrate how people without recognized authority have the ability to lead. He goes on to condemn the style of leadership that makes others act like followers. Real leaders, he says, incite others to tackle tough challenges, as Martin Luther King Jr. did when he mobilized black communities in the South. "It may be a difficult lesson for CEOs to swallow since many draw their sense of self-worth from their superior understanding and confidence in their own decisions," says InfoPosse member Lisa Guedea Carreño. "But this short article redefines leadership in a way that makes it both more democratic and more effective."
The InfoPosse members are Genevieve Foskett, corporate librarian at Highsmith Inc.; Lisa Guedea Carreño, library director at Goshen College; Christine Klein, a corporate librarian with more than a dozen years of experience; Jean Mayhew, former director of information and learning at United Technologies Research Center; and Lisa A. Zwickey, senior research specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates.