I just introduced #WTFWednesday, as in WTF happened, on Facebook. Here is the photograph I presented to my friends that I just discovered in my seemingly never-ending caches of paperwork, photos, etc., that keep popping up. I believe this is my 1st grade class at Chase St. Elementary School, in Panorama City, California. After WWII, Panorama City advertised itself as the “Heart of the Valley,” the San Fernando Valley, that is . . . like totally.
I only know what happened to one of the kids in this photo; the one in the Hopalong Cassidy shirt, third from the right, third row up. The kid with the large, goofy ears. Last I heard, he was still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.
I am — at least, I was — a Knowledge Management professional. It’s what I did for over a decade at Rocketdyne, starting when it was a business unit of The Boeing Company, up through my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a division of United Technologies. Pratt & Whitney paid for me to earn a Masters Degree in KM online from CSUN’s Tseng College. It’s such an exclusive degree they don’t offer it anymore. 🙂
I mention this because it affects how I share information, especially here on my blog. One of the tenets we tried to drill into people’s heads, and follow ourselves, was to avoid reinventing the wheel. That is, make it a habit to reuse information and knowledge that’s already been won at some cost to one or more individuals and the organization in which it was produced. This means, among other things, I am not interested in rewriting what others have written, while adding my own twist to it. This doesn’t apply when how I perceive an issue is substantially different than others, but it does when I’m sharing things I mostly agree with.
Yesterday and today brought me two great, and related, examples of things that need sharing and for which there’s little for me to do than announce them. The first I will actually place second, below, as it’s the subject of the second, which is a post by Dennis Howlett, which he published today in diginomica. What Dennis discusses is a Google Hangout Robert Scoble conducted, wherein he described what he has learned in thousands of hours of tweaking Facebook’s algorithms — primarily through his educated use of lists, likes, shares, etc.
Both Dennis and Robert are still far more embedded in the business world than I am and, rather than attempt an explanation through my eyes, I want to leave it to both of them to help you out. If you are using Facebook for your business or profession, or even if you just want to have a much better experience when using Facebook personally, I suggest reading the post and watching the video, which I am also including here. As Dennis points out, Robert is very generous with sharing his knowledge, something this KM pro really admires. You really should take advantage of it.
Yeah. I know. I missed posting the other day. I spent a lot of time creating and writing the first post for a new blog I created for a client. Have you tried to create an engaging and useful blog site for a Dry Cleaners? I believe I can (and have begun to) do it, but it ain’t a walk in the park, if you get my drift. Besides that, my muse decided to take a little vacation. I’ve been talking to it a lot lately, trying to convince him/her to stick around for extended periods of time, but I don’t always seem to get through to her/him.
Anyway, I suggested I would write a bit about why I’ve made the – perhaps – dangerous choice to mix my personal blogging in with my professional blogging. Actually, though I haven’t as yet done so, I plan on mixing in political blogging and, come to think of it, I’ve pretty much tipped my hand when it comes to religion . . . though I may yet have some surprises in store.
I have elsewhere discussed my purpose for starting this particular blog and why I named it Systems Savvy. I’m not exactly circling around to what my original intention was, as my plan is a bit broader than what I originally set out to do. What I am doing, however, is not only recognizing the systemic nature of the physical world, or that of the economy, society, and the entities that form bonds that keep things going, but also of my own life; me as a system and me as a system embedded in larger, more complex systems.
What I’m getting at is I am not defined by any one aspect of my life. I have diplomas to signify my completion of particular courses of study, but my education has been continuous and diverse. You can’t define me with a couple of initials at the end of my name. Neither can I be defined by any of the numerous positions I’ve held over the years at literally dozens of companies, some of which I either owned or was a partner in.
I have some pretty well-defined political and religious beliefs. Some might call me opinionated . . . but they’re clearly assholes :). Regardless, none of my “beliefs” or opinions are set in concrete. I like to think I am both intellectually curious and doctrinally malleable. I strive to be scientific in all that I do and in all my thinking about what makes the world go ’round.
Me and my evil twin
I have a personal logo I designed, at the suggestion of Ross Dawson, that seeks to represent my philosophy to some extent. It consists of a pair of head-shots of me – one positive, the other negative – juxtaposed on top of the yin yang symbol. This represents my understanding* of the dialectic; the tension and resolution of opposite tendencies in the world and in human relationships.
All to say . . . I have presented myself as a compartmentalized, semi-one-dimensional person for most of my life. This is what was asked of me and what I gave in the belief it was necessary to survive and thrive. I still believe it worked fairly well for me and probably does for most people in today’s political and social climate. I have no intention of continuing along those lines. I’m still struggling for the right voices to use to present my stories, but I am bound and determined to present what I believe my life has been about and the direction I intend for it to take in the time I have remaining.
Two days ago marked the second anniversary of my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. I’ve been reconciling myself with the reality that life wasn’t going to proceed along the path I had expected for an awful lot of years; learning to deal with the changing circumstances. I’ve been on this path for a while and expect to constantly refine – and redefine – it as time goes by. I have my moments of despair, primarily over wondering if I’m going to be able to replace the income I lost as a result of my retirement but, for the most part, I’m having a ball.
Stay tuned if you’re interested. I do want to be read. However, a large part of my impetus for doing this is my desire to leave a trail for my children to follow in understanding their father and why he did what he did. Having become a first-time, adoptive father at the age of 55 (and again at 59), I have no illusion that I’ll live long into my children’s adult lives. This is just in case I don’t get to have the conversations with them I’d like to.
* On 17 May 2012 I changed the word “knowledge” to “understanding” with respect to the concept of “the dialectic”. I did this as, in accordance with Professor Russell Ackoff‘s “spectrum of learning“, I wished to convey the thought not merely that I have knowledge of the existence of the dialectic, but I believe I have a reasonably well-developed understanding of how it works in the world as well. Whether I have the wisdom yet to apply that understanding well . . . remains to be seen.
I’ve probably used this title a bit too often over time, but . . . what the hell, eh? Not sure I’ve publicized it, but I have decided to accept the early retirement package offered by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to all employees who have celebrated their 60th birthday. I will, therefore, at the tender age of 63 (well, a couple weeks prior to achieving that particular milestone) be a retiree. I’m not, however, actually retiring, as I can’t truly afford to. So . . . I’ll be looking for interesting things to do that will also bring in a little bit of income to supplement my modest pension and the reduced Social Security I will be “forced” to apply for a bit early. So watch for me to get increasingly “vocal” as I feel the need to make a little rain for myself. I’m hopeful I can do that without being obnoxious, but one never knows. Others will have to be the judge of that.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.