Concept of the Day: Visual Illiteracy

Crozon ChurchIn a post about the use of PowerPoint during the Iraq War, Visual Beings used this term “Visual Illiteracy”.

Some days a phrase gets me thinking – Visual Illiteracy is a new one.

Visual Illiteracy is of course the opposite of Visual Literacy of which there seems to be a lot written.

There’s even an International Visual Literacy Association.

Take your pick of definitions, they all seem to be saying very similar things: the ability to communicate and understand visually rather than in words.

I suppose this fits into my brain series. The right-brained people seem to be the ones who are more likely to be visually literate. Visual literacy is going to be a skill which will be invaluable to people who are needing to be more creative and more conceptual. It seems to be something you can learn.

Having done a small amount of research I am staggered by how many words have been written about a topic that is all about visual. Apparently there is a taxonomy of visual literacy?

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The 'Info-glut'

Adventures in Teenbed-Ageroom: Jiimy tries to scale the mount called Revisionpaperwork

Greg at EOD joins the rant about the glut of information and it’s definitely one of the more entertaining ones.

 

The conclusion:

 

 

“As of now, my fancy-pants, community-generated, emergent-behaviour data-sorting heuristic is: a calendar. If I haven’t gotten to something in a week, it dies. Stick that in your attention economy and smoke it. I’m re-booting. Feed list: empty. In-box: empty. TiVo: OK, OK, I still need to watch “24.” But other than that: empty.”

 

There is a lot to be said for the time based approach.

 

My dad always used to follow a three draw approach. When his in-tray became full he would put everything out of it into the top draw in his desk. If someone asked him about something he would go and find it, if it was in his top draw it would get put back into his in-tray. Every time his top draw became full he would take everything out of it and place it in the bin without even looking at it. If it had become that old he clearly wasn’t going to get to it and it probably wasn’t relevant anyway. GTD encourages people to do something similar and Greg’s approach sounds equally sensible.

 

It’s definitely time for people to realise that they need to take control no-one else is going to do it for them.

Cognitive Overload – I don’t get this at home

Bolton Abbey

Today is one of my ‘working in the office’ days rather than working from home. It’s been over a week and I had forgotten how difficult some things can be in this environment.

I am currently trying to listen into a teleconference, it’s not very load and there are a number of people in a room talking, sometimes all at once. Here in the office the person next to me is on the phone, in front of me is a small meeting area where another group of people are also on a teleconference with a speaker phone. Behind me are two more individuals in an open conversation. This keyboard I am using is not the quietest either.

Result – cognitive overload. I should be able to listen in to his call without giving it my utmost attention but I can’t. I even find myself having to close my eyes in order to cut some things out. it’s a good job I don’t have to contribute much to this meeting. I definitely don’t get this at home that’s for sure.

The Difference a Role Profile Makes

Millennium Ribble LinkThe blog is a follow-up to the one I wrote the other day on Role Profiling – Does it have any value? In this blog I asked myself the question:

  • Does a role profile really make a difference to an organisation?

This blog ought to be one of those with loads of links to other people’s thoughts and ideas, but actually I didn’t find much on blogs to link to, and it was difficult to know which of the web sites could be regarded as authoritative. I do, however, have access to Books 24×7 which is great for getting access to information when you need to read published literature which comes with a certain level of authority. I used to dislike the online reading experience, but I am becoming more comfortable with it. All I need know is a tablet and then I can read in a format which is more like the book format.

Anyway, here are the results of my research.

Role profiles are a tool, and people use tools for many things, sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly – to the man with a hammer every problem is a nail. Where this particular tool works well is in a situation where there is a clear definition of the business objectives. The role profile being linked to those business objectives. In making this clear link the contents of the role profile doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone because the objectives are already known, understood and owned by everyone in the enterprise.

The role profile’s job is to communicate what the company regards as important for a particular role, with a clear link to the objectives. And that is where it gets really interesting as far as I am concerned, because many companies then connect a role profile with a salary and seniority. But actually that shouldn’t be it’s job, that is using the hammer to fix a screw. Especially when related to the type of organisation that I work for.

I work for a knowledge organisation, the knowledge is the organisation. As such, one of our key objectives should be to be a learning organisation. We need to keep renewing the knowledge assets, in the same way as a car company or a mobile phone company needs to keep refreshing the product. In refreshing the assets though, we need to know what the attributes of the assets are that are important to our customers (existing and potential) so that we have something to sell. That is where the role profile could come in as a tool to help us to understand the knowledge assets that the company wants to build in us, and then to sell to our customers.

But this isn’t just for the companies benefit. As an employee I gain value in two ways. Firstly I gain the knowledge assets. The assets are built in me. You can have a whole debate about IPR if you like, but I can’t take this knowledge out of my head. Secondly, I gain, because I have a clear understanding of my value to the company. And this is where salary and seniority should come in, but not as a direct result of the Role Profile, but as an assessment of my value to the organisation.

Where organisations have managed to define clear objective and to communicate them through a role profile or similar mechanism they have managed to build a learning culture which is focussed on delivering the assets that others want to buy.

I’m not going to comment here on how my own employer is doing on this.

Design – from an amatuer

Above Scorton

I have updated my blog design in line with some reading I have been doing on design. it’s an interesting idea within the blog space. Is the design of the web page actually that important, on the basis that people could be reading the content in all sorts of ways, without even touching the web page.

Anyway, I have gone for a green design, with a predominant white feel to it. The green is to fit in with the ‘oak grove’ theme. The picture in the new graphic is one of mine. It was taken at Tarn Howes, so it’s a real English Oak. I’ve tried to stick to the web colours in the design so as to enable good compatibility. I’ve also removed the picture of the face in the sand because I’m not sure that it was saying much. I actually don’t have a good picture of myself, when I’ve taken one I’ll add it in I think.

Role Profiling – Does It Have Any Value?

Gause Bush

I have set myself a little challenge this week. It follows on from some discussions last week within a management meeting. And here is the question:

  • Does a role profile really make a difference to an organisation?

The background behind the question is this.

I work in an organisation that has on numerous occasions done role profiling exercises and generally failed in it. These exercises normally have numerous purposes and numerous customers. Even as an employee you want a role profile for more than one purpose; you want it to position you within a grading structure, but you also want it to tell you what you need to develop and you also want it to tell you were you are in the salary band for the role that you are doing. Each of these issues is fraught with danger. The company I work for wants to be able to position people in roles so that it can understand it’s skills base, but it doesn’t want to link that to salary because that would lead to all sorts of issues.

The company has recently undertaken it’s latest exercise and communicated a structure (badly) to each of the staff. As far as my team is concerned more than 70% of the team is sat within two bands within a single role.

So does all of this stuff actually make a difference? Do companies with a strict role profiling mechanism achieve a higher level of staff satisfaction (for instance) than do companies who have absolutely no structure at all. Do companies that point both ways have more problems than companies that are at one extreme or the other? Is the role more important the more junior you are?

From a personal perspective, I don’t think I care. But why don’t I care? In what situation would I care? I am only thinking about it at the moment because I have been told what my role profile is (I have worked for over 10 years not knowing what it was), and because I have been asked to be part of management team that looks at the issue.

So what is the value of a role profile. It definitely has a cost, but does it have a value. To be perfectly honest – I don’t know.

Suppose that means that it is time for some research. Great, I love learning something new!!!