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Posts Tagged ‘knowledge

Knowledge, A Transmission of a Heritage

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thot3

Thot, egyptian god of knowledge

Knowledge is the most valuable thing we can acquire. It starts first with our parents who explain us lots of things during early childhood and later. Then the time has come to go to school where we learn to read, to calculate, to understand and appreciate.  It is also the most crucial moment to develop our sense of curiosity and discovery.  That’s why it is not only necessary to learn the basic fundamentals, but also to learn all what can bring us directly or indirectly inspiration, new ideas. History, geography, literature, art, are just as important in education.

Knowledge is part of education, and education is an important step to expand our knowledge, our curiosity and creativity.  Curiosity is a key motivation to open doors to new knowledge.  Curiosity is a key element to expand our knowledge and to increase our autonomy, to become free human beings. There are many channels to explore new horizons, to understand our environment and the history, by reading books, watching Tv podcasts or going to the cinema, visiting cities and historical sites, practicing a sport. All these new discoveries we can do, could be the opportunity to discover new centers of interest, new motivations, new ideas to develop future projects.  Knowledge is acquired through experience and original journey.

Knowledge is also one of the only things without limit. Each day, science makes new discoveries, industries are innovating. Each discovery is a source of knowledge opening doors to new reflections, new discoveries and opportunities. But the most interesting fact is that knowledge is the only thing we have more when it is shared. What would be the interest to keep your knowledge for yourself, especially in the age of the internet, where you can find an unlimited quantity of information. It is also senseless to keep information or knowledge for yourself when projects can only be done and succeed as the result of a collective intelligence process. Those who don’t share knowledge consider it in a spirit of competition. But today, things begin to be more and more complex, and in such a context, the required knowledge is so extensive that we can only control a part of it. We must not see each other as competitors, but more as complementary people who can learn from each other. Instead of seeing knowledge in a competition spirit, let us considering it in a collaboration spirit.

Knowledge has to be considered as an intangible common heritage. Each of us, we acquire knowledge on different ways, according to our interests and aspirations.  We acquire knowledge with experience and as I mentioned in a previous article about seniority, it is an asset. But in a fast and ongoing changing environment, young generations have other sensibilities and other visions of the society. Combining experience of the seniors and new visions of the juniors is an interesting way to launch innovative processes. It is only by sharing knowledge and visions that each of us, we can evolve together.

Knowledge is part of our personality, what will make us someone blossomed. Knowledge is what gives us possibilities to accomplish us, and to allow others to accomplish themselves. Sharing knowledge each other will make us grow. We can share what we acquire, without losing it. Knowledge is finally a heritage to be transmitted.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 24, 2019 at 07:04

Seniority is an asset

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Seniors workersAs many other criteria like race, gender, or social level, seniority is often an element of discrimination. When companies are operating restructuring processes, it is often the seniors who are fired. Most of the time, there are considered as a cost for the company, and less productive than the youngest. It is a short term vision, and a purely financial logic that doesn’t care about the quality level of work provided by people.

Productivity and creativity are not a question of age. It is a question of mind. Some people are always in a learning mode. In an ongoing changing world, they live with their time and consider learning new things as new opportunities. The key of such way of life is motivation. As far as you define and attribute goals matching with people competences, experience and expectations, you can only have motivated people who will give the best of themselves.

Experience and knowledge are advantages of seniority, as far as you learn from them. Experience means that you are doing mistakes. As far as you are aware and learn from your mistakes, it is an asset that completes your knowledge base and allows you to anticipate similar situations in future projects.

I remember a collaborator at a customer who was nearly 64 years old. As financial guy, he was computer literate and had among other things a high level of database management knowledge. But to reach such level of knowledge is not done overnight. It was the result of hours and hours of self-training and experimentation. He had probably a good salary as a senior, but how can we evaluate a salary if you don’t take into account the level of productivity and creativity. With his database knowledge, my colleague creates applications to do the job of one day in 30 minutes, and providing more information and more accurate.  So, when companies are looking for gains of productivity, is age the right criteria of people selection without considering experience and knowledge? I don’t think so.

Another example: few years ago, I met a woman during an entrepreneur week-end. When she went on retirement, she decided to do her first steps with computers and to discover internet.  After few time, she followed a special training in order to audit websites about their accessibility for people having problems of vision. She built a strong community on the web and is attending co-working places.  Here again, the acquired competences are not a question of age but a question of mind.

Of course, in a fast and ongoing changing world, seniors like youngest must question themselves.  Seniors who worked on several projects and assignments acquired a lot of experience. But what is important is the capacity to perceive the changes of the environment and to transpose their experience into a new context.  Experience does not mean that seniors reach a summit where they know everything and have answers to each challenge and problems.  Seniors have experience, and youngest people have new visions about the future of business, of society. What is interesting is the combination of senior experience and young people visions that can lead to creating innovative processes.

Seniors can be an asset for organization as long as they consider that age is not a criteria to stop to learn and to progress. They are an asset if they are aware about their potential and if they see changes as opportunities that can enrich their personal journey. They are also an asset if they share experience, knowledge and journey with juniors. Transmission is probably a key role they can play in favor of young generations. The conditions to value seniority are first that seniors themselves have always a project and don’t see age as a barrier, and secondly that their value is recognized as an asset. This implies a long term vision. As this African proverb says: “Along we go faster, together we go further”.

 

Picture source: money.usnews.com

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2018 at 06:42

Does uncertainty boost talent and creativity?

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If something is growing since I started my professional career 23 years ago, it is uncertainty. As each of us can see around, the world is fast moving. By looking how the world moved, we just can note that it doesn’t move on a linear way. A fundamental question we have to think about, is how can we drive our own way, our own career, if predictions become impossible?

This question, we thought about it for the first time when we are at school. At a certain time, we have to choice the studies we want to make at the university or high school. By the past, such choice was driven a bit by passion, but also by the opportunities such studies can offer. Today, how can we answer to such question when your future job probably doesn’t exist yet. For instance, did you heard from webmaster or social media 20 years ago? What answer can we give to such question today?

Fundamentally, before to be workers, we are first human being, and a strong education is the basic to develop citizenship, but also to become…the person we are. By learning languages, mathematics, philosophy, we are acquiring matters feeding our brain, developing our intelligence, and maybe making appear some talent and passion. Knowledge and talents are the key component to catch opportunities, and to build a wealthy career. This is a first step. As some of us can think, there are people who have strong education, but who are facing professional difficulties, due to difficult economical circumstances, or because there are doing a too specific job for which the demand is low. Does it mean that people are definitively lost in such circumstance, that there are front of a dark horizon?

Today, education is not something we only acquired when we were at school, but it is something we have to feed and acquire on an ongoing way, for the simple reason that in a fast moving environment, we have to move fast also. Learning has to be a natural exercise. Our brain is a muscle we have to make work too. As I mention above, all what we can learn can drive us to new opportunities, but the combination of skills can make us creative and develop new ideas in order to provide answers to new demands, to create new opportunities too. I would mention Steve Jobs who doesn’t invent the graphical interface (it was first a Xerox invention), but he was the first who perceived the potential of such technical process. The combination of skills is what Steve Jobs mention in his famous speech at the Standford University ( * ): connecting the dots. You never know all what you can do with some skill forward. You can only note it backward.

Talent and skills are certainly the most appropriate answer to face uncertainty. But what is also even most important is experiences. Each of us, we developed skills and talents by studying at school or by reading books, but also by working on several projects during our career. Each project is probably an important source of knowledge, leading to make some statements, pushing us to find solutions, to innovate and to get constant feedback of the stakeholders of the project. With such feedback, we are feeding our own knowledge base, and building a strong reference system, allowing us to create and develop more efficient solutions, to face much bigger challenges. By acquiring and developing talents, by acquiring experience, we empower our self-confidence, and we are much more prepared to face uncertainty.

Uncertainty has not to be seen in a negative way, but as a potential of opportunities. I remember few years ago when I went on holiday in France to make a bicycle trip during 10 days. Each day we started, we had no idea what we will do or see during the day. On the evening, we had wonderful images of landscape, of interesting visits and conversations with local people. This is probably one of the most beautiful holidays I had. By thinking to much in advance to scenarios, you are often disappointed by the reality.

Uncertainty is not something we can’t face. It is something that can bring us energy and motivate us to develop talents. It implies we need to have objectives and passion to reach them, to be self-confident. It is something we can be prepared, if we work on our capacity of adaptation, if we are flexible, if we decide to expand our horizon. But as mention Lynda Gratton, in her book “The shift”, we need to be “active creators” and not passive consumers. It is not forbidden to think that uncertainty is something contributing to boost talent and creativity.

Blog references: (*) http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html , (**) http://www.lyndagratton.com/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 1, 2012 at 16:48

What is success ?

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Success and perseverance.

Everybody wants to reach success. The question is to know what is precisely success. Have we each of us the same definition, the same view of success? This question needs to be answered in order to know what success is, but also where success is. We reach success when we are realizing a dream. We have dreams we want to realize in our personal life. There are different kind of dreams, and the ways to reach them will probably be different. We can dream to have a family, to have children succeeding in their studies, to travel around the world. We would like also to succeed in our professional life, to have an enjoyable work and to earn enough money to cover our daily needs. This is an overview of what could be success, but does it mean that these things we are dreaming are successful on themselves ?

The success is a question of values. What are the value we are sharing? In our society, most of the time, success is associated to wealth. Bill Gates, for instance, is seen as a successful man by founding one of the most large software companies, Microsoft. But does it mean that the creation of a company is a dream shared by everybody? This is a question of value, of interest. To meet the success, is to meet the goal you are dreaming. Your goal will be function of the value you are believe in and the activities leaded by your values. There is no success, there is only your success, and your success will not be necessarily the success of somebody else. I already talked in another post, about this Belgian theater founder and actor, Michel Kacenelenbogen, who was first owner and founder of a company. His initial goal was to create a theater, and he founded first a company in order to earn money, to be able to create this theater, to realize his dream. He realized his dream, by founding “Le Public”, a theater with an innovative concept, financed by his own revenue and a part of public subsidies, and where you can find a restaurant after or before the spectacle. This was his dream, and this is his success, but his dream is not probably yours and your success neither. The question of values and goals is important, because what you are considering, or what is the society considering as a success, could be only an illusion. I want to mention here an article I read recently in a magazine, about a business man who was dreaming to drive a Porsche. He made a bet that he will have a Porsche when he will be 30 years old. On way, he bought the Porsche, but he realized after that, that he put a lot of pressure on his shoulder and on the shoulders of his collaborator to maximize profits and to reach his personal goal, and that finally, the car he bought was an illusion of success. The success was more in the business he developed and in all the things he learned by building it every day.

By definition, success is something positive, and because success looks like positive, people are dreaming of success, but are often considering the positive side of success. Regarding the two case I explained before, we have not to underestimate the challenges and issues people had to face to reach their goal. To build a company, or to found a theater remains a challenge and a risk. As Peter Drucker quote says: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Some entrepreneurs failed in their projects, learned about that failure and restarted new projects in another way and reached the success. The failure you can meet could be part of a success, if you learn from your failure.

And let us talk about your talent. You can reach a goal or a success by expressing and developing talent. Your talent is one of the key components of success. There are some people saying that everybody can do everything if we want. Personally, I do not totally agree with this statement. We can only succeed by doing things we are motivated by. We have also to reach a level of talent which depends of our capabilities and abilities to acquire the knowledge. There is a huge difference between to be able to play piano, and to play as Mozart was playing. Let us remember also another Peter Drucker quote saying that “It is better to work on your strong points to pass from competence to excellence, than to work on your weaknesses to pass from incompetence to mediocrity.”

But finally, what is success ? Success is the realization of projects you are dreaming. It is only you who can decide and determine what will be a successful life. Maybe you will not see it immediately, maybe you will note that things you were believed as success are just illusions. But each goal we are fixing is function of our passed experiences and of an anticipation of the future, based on new values we discovered and acquired. It is only you who can see yourself as a successful person and not the others.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 2, 2011 at 21:11

The discomfort zone

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The comfort and discomfort zone

When I started my career beginning of the 90’s, it was still believable to do your career or a big part of it in the same company. At that time, as my second job of my career, I was joining the Belgian subsidiary of a IT Japanese company with that thought. But around two years and half later, the company was restructuring and I was part of the people who lost their job. I was not really happy at that time and the future looked a bit dark in my eyes. The reason of such darkness was also that I saw people around me, people of the generation of my parents, working since many years in the same company and loosing their job in a few minutes. To my eyes, something was changing. The world of business and of jobs will not be the same than before.

When such things happen, it is always an opportunity to analyse your background and to understand the way you did. I remember that I had my second job because there was some knowledge and experiences needed, and that I had the chance to develop this knowledge in my previous job. The experience I acquired during my first job was clearly an asset to build my career, to get other opportunities. I compared also my first job and the second one to see what was different. As first job, it is always the one where you will learn a lot because it is your first experience, but in my case, another reason was that the small structure of the company where I was working, was an environment where you have to do a range of different tasks and where you can learn a lot of different things. My second job was an interesting one, but was only focused on a specific function. I was account receivable accountant at that time. By having a look to the two years in these Japanese company, I had to note that my career and work evolution was lower than in my previous job.

By thinking about this particular change in the work world, I conclude that before, the perspective to work on a long-term basis for the same company was seen as a positive and comfortable perspective, but this statement is not true anymore today. You can maybe still work for a long time in the same company, but the most important is to make sure that you will evolve in different functions, that you will expand your skills and knowledge.

The comfort is something enjoyable when things are going well in your job. But the question is how long will it stay like this. In a fast moving environment where restructuring processes happen more and more in companies, the comfort feeling could be a danger. Skills, capabilities and experience are the guarantee to succeed in finding of job opportunities. But skills and capabilities are not something static, but dynamic. In a fast moving environment, your skills and competences have to move, to evolve too. As I mentioned before, you will probably have a job because the needed competences match with yours, but you have also to stay competitive on the job market place. It is the reason why the acquisition of new competences and the talent development is an asset and a necessity.

It is important to check time-to-time, in your professional as in your personal life where you are, where you were and where you want and have to go. When you see that things do not change a lot and that you are still in the same place, in the same function, that you do not see any evolution in your work, your career, than think that it is probably time to move to another challenge. Think also to follow some trainings in order to improve and increase your knowledge in specific areas, in some matters you are interested by and where you have really talent. Don’t do this only in your professional life, but also in your personal life, by having hobbies, fixing a goal to them and persevering in order to reach your goal. In other words, move from the comfort zone to the discomfort zone.

Move to the discomfort zone has to be an ongoing process. As many exercise, we have to be used to do it, we have to go over a certain inertia. At the beginning of my career, I was thinking to do my career in the same company. Today, as freelance consultant since few years, I cannot imagine anymore to move to such career if it would be possible.

This statement, this experience makes me take a few conclusions. In every negative event, you can always learn something and find opportunities. It is a characteristic of an entrepreneur mind, and you have to be the entrepreneur of your own life. Move to the discomfort zone will give you other opportunity, will contribute to your self-development and empower your self- confidence. Move to your discomfort zone is just a question of habit. With this, you will see that the discomfort zone is not so uncomfortable.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 2, 2011 at 21:20

A manager, mentor and creator of inspiring environments.

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A manager, a mentor and a creator of inspiring environment

All of us we probably remember a manager we were pleased to work with, giving us the opportunity to develop talents and to achieve goals. All of us, we can note that when we finished our studies, we only acquired basic knowledge in the discipline we choose. At that stage, things only begin. In an ongoing fast moving environment, we have to learn every day by acquiring useful experience.

What is precisely experience? An efficient experience is not only a range of accumulated performed tasks, but the realisation of projects and assignment with concrete results and the knowledge acquired through the processes. A part of the acquired knowledge is the result of our own question we are putting to ourselves, but also the shared experience and knowledge by our colleagues and managers.

Recently, I put a question about the criteria of a good job. Somebody underlined the fact to work in an inspiring environment as a criteria of motivation, environment where colleagues and managers want to share knowledge with each other, which means a real team spirit, environment where each member want to be part of a collaborative process, and consider only personal success with team success. Everybody can contribute to such environment, but it is the manager responsibility to create it and to make it work. A manager is responsible of a team, with people having several competences and capabilities. The point is to create an environment where the people can demonstrate their talents, and create more added value than the sum of the individual talents. It is important to create a collaborative process, a dynamic where each team member can share knowledge with all the team members, where the seniors can share their own experience and recommendation and teach the juniors. Here I am not only underlying the combination of competences in a team, but also the level of competence and experience of each member. The importance of a balance between seniors and juniors is critical, for the reason that as senior, we do not only acquire knowledge, but we developed also methodology of work through several experiences. Methodology is a key factor in a project, in an assignment. Knowledge answers to what I have to do, but methodology answers to how have I to do it.

The manager has to play a key role in the acquisition of methodology by his team members. It is obvious if he wants to delegate processes and see these processes done on an efficient way. He can reach such results if we share his own experience with his collaborator, giving them the opportunity to work autonomously. Personally, I remember managers advising me and contributing to make me important steps in productivity improvements. They gave me small tips giving influence on my career direction, revealing talents and capabilities.

I think that a manager has to be a mentor, has to inspire and to build inspired and enthusiastic teams. Considering the fact to share knowledge and information, he clearly subscribes to a sustainable and long terms view of the organisation. He clearly understands this quote of Peter Drucker: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 6, 2010 at 22:07

Work in a multicultural environment.

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Work in an multicultural environment

I spent a major time of my career to work for international companies. When I remember  these assignments contracted in international companies, I can say there were exceptional opportunities for many reasons, and not only for professional opportunities, but also for personal opportunities.

In international environments, you are working with colleagues from different nationalities, multicultural environments where often, the working language is English. As French speaking native, living in a country where there are three different cultures (Flemish, French and German), the presence of colleagues from other countries was the opportunity to improve and practice English language on a regular basis. The basis of collaboration is the communication, but communication is impossible without language knowledge. But language is also the basis of the thought. Better will be the knowledge of a language, better you will express your thoughts, your feelings. But you will be able also to understand also the others.

Starting from the language, you will talk with your colleagues about professional matters, but also about many other matters, which means that you will learn other cultures. By learning different cultures, you will probably discover other sensibilities, other customs and habits, which will make you better understand the point of view of the people on a particular subject, to see different approach from yours. You will establish a better relationship with the people. And if you take care of this, most of the time, people appreciate the interest you bring to their culture. Most of the time, if I know the language of the people I want to talk with, I start to speak in his language. It is an opportunity to practice and to improve my language knowledge.

By sharing our knowledge, our experiences, by sharing different point of view, we acquire new possibilities to move forward our thoughts, our ideas. In some mind mapping seminars, we talk about radiant thought. If for example, you think about an apple, you can think about the tree, about the country where the apple was picked, to the person who picked it, … What I mean here, is that the point of view of somebody having a different culture than your, can bring new ideas, new approaches to you, and increase  your intellectual capabilities.

Do not forget also the social dimension of such multicultural environment. When people from different cultures are developing smooth collaborations and relationships, the success of social integration is ensured. The gratitude of the accomplished work is a key element of our self respect, the condition to respect the others.

As conclusion, it is obvious that multicultural environments are a wealth, the only wealth which nobody can steal, which has an inestimable value. This should be a leitmotiv for everybody, in our professional or personal life: how to transform relationship in wealth ?

Image source: http://www.intransol.com/images/a_multicultural.jpg

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 18, 2010 at 22:31