You have to appreciate Google Scholar alerts

You cannot stop the stream of information. As the knowledge base of the academy grows one publication at a time you can only hope to tunnel into the shared knowledge within an academic space. It is no longer possible to keep up with the speed of publications. Reading and learning are inherently a reward for the pursuit of knowledge. The pace of publication creates a situation where the pursuit of knowledge has to be accepted as the goal. Any goal centered on learning everything would be aspirational at best.

Google Scholar has been sending over occasional “Scholar Alert” emails for my search, “Managing At the Speed of Change”. The latest electronic missive from Sholar Alerts only included one book. I was able to read part of the Google Books preview from Chris Cosby’s “Strategic Organizational Alignment: Authority, Power, Results” (2016). Inside the book it clearly shows a publication date of 2017. Given that it is only 2016 and the publication is available for purchase on my Amazon Kindle the 2017 date seems interesting. I would have guessed the publication year was 2016 not 2017.

My goal for 2017 is to write 5 academic articles and send 3 of them off for publication. I am hopeful that next year will be a key year for my contributions to the academy. A ton of my focus recently has been dedicated to knocking out a few lines of code each day. That pursuit will be deprioritized in favor of writing academic articles.

A weekend of reading literature

My epic literature review based adventure turned toward reading a few articles on people, process, and technology. Sometimes that gets presented as a triangle shaped diagram. It is another framework that pulls forward from the 1990’s into the modern workplace. Some of that research begins to wade into the world of ITIL. My search is taking me all the way back to Leavitt’s diamond model from 1964. I’m not sure how it will all tie together at this point, but the models are interesting to think about and apply to the modern workplace.

Reading and more reading

Coffee seemed a little more important this morning. It might be the colder weather that has moved into Colorado. It could be the time of year. Outside of my daily interest in coffee, my focus has been on reading a ton of scholarly management articles. Working on writing a literature review tends to focus my efforts. In this case, those efforts are clearly focused on reading academic articles. A few books may get pulled into the list, but only if they are consistently referenced in the literature. A few election articles have also jumped up into my reading queue. Over the last few months, I have gradually accepted how Google News aggregates coverage. Instead of sitting down to visit a series of websites I have just scrolled through the Google News coverage. I’m not sure if that is a solid way to consume content, but it has worked well enough.

Swiftly used and seldom understood business metaphors

My literature review is continuing at a good pace. I have started to think about all the swifty used and seldom understood business metaphors. Hot topics tend to pop up in the world of business. Problem solving in the business world should not be thought of as a game of whack-a-mole. Workplaces are full of real people striving to succeed in the face of very real problems. Successful leaders evaluate the impact of solutions on the workforce and workplace. Leaders sometimes go to the business theory grab bag of the moment. Some of the solutions of the moment from the grab bag involve metaphors or catchphrases. Like a bad game of telephone the meaning of those metaphors deteriorates over time. Problems keep popping up. Leaders will keep trying to solve them. It is inevitable that metaphors and problem solving technique will keep getting recycled.

Within the business world the burning platform remains a swiftly used and seldom understand metaphor of destruction. Complexity theory has sprung forward to answer questions about efficient problem solving. Creating or building up a burning platform hardly seems like an efficient method for problem solving. It would be easier and more efficient for leaders to use information to engage in informed decision making. Leaders have more sources of information available today. We are generating more and more information. Data scientist and other types of highly analytic data driven roles have sprouted up everywhere in the business world. Even with the rise of more information about decisions generalizing a theory requires a lot of academic effort. It is not something that should be taken lightly. Proving a special theory is generally the path taken before attempting any generalization.

Without question technology has driven disruptive innovation for a long time. The automobile disrupted the horse and buggy. Today that automobile with a combustion engine is being disrupted by electric batteries. That type of disruptive change cannot be directly generalized to workplace leadership. Intellectually a lot of internal linkages exist between understanding disruptive innovation in the technology sector and leading workplace change.

Ramping up the the literature review process

The Amazon Kindle service had the book “Managing At the Speed of Change” by Daryl Conner for only $1.99 today (1992). It should be an easy read on my Nexus 9 tablet. I’m not sure if that is the regular price or it is on sale. A quick search on the Google Scholar academic search engine for “Managing At the Speed of Change” produced 1,010 results in about 0.08 seconds. I even created an alert to send me any articles published after my search. Digging through 1,010 citations will take a couple weeks, but that is the fun part of a literature review. Google Scholar is a fun starting point that provides a good overview before digging into other digital libraries of academic journals.

At the University of Kansas, I remember taking an interest in researching civil society. Instead of using technology to ferret out every reference an entire different approach was utilized. A trip to Watson library occurred. I searched for a couple of civil society related books and located the right section of the library. What happened next changed my academic journey forever. I checked out a good portion of the shelf and started reading book after book about civil society. That singular act was what convinced me being an academic would be a good idea.

The academy itself is populated with ideas from generations of scholars. It is easy to tap into the collective thoughts of the academy. You just need the drive and desire to consume a large quantity of words. A section of a library shelf was a good start to learn about civil society. Digging through 1,010 publications related to disruptive change will take a little longer.

My master’s thesis advisor explained what it took to be a scholar in a pretty straightforward way. The test was pretty simple. Pick up the latest issue of the most prestigious journal in the field you are interested in exploring. Read that issue from cover to cover. Read the last six months to a year from that journal. If the process of reading all those academic articles is invigorating and enjoyable, then academic work might be something you will enjoy pursuing.

Anybody can sit down and start work on writing an academic article. Getting it published is a different story. Reading everything available requires passion. Learning how to utilize and follow the scientific method is something that can be learned.