Response to Gary Cokins’s blog – Am I a Bad Person?

Great post by Gary Cokins on Education in Performance Management and Business Intelligence. I couldn’t agree more.

Any professional in the field of BI and PM should think of themselves a learner – nobody has got all the answers and we should all make it a point to continuously educate ourselves on the latest practices. Perhaps, more importantly – we should continuously question if the practices we are currently applying are yielding the required results.

As Gary notes, there are many ways for the community to educate itself – it may start by asking questions at your own organization, working with your clients, connecting with thought leaders, researchers, professors and authors.

I want to add to Gary’s point on industry events and the importance of connecting with authors specifically. The last thing we want this community to do is to NOT connect with as many people as possible – here I mean authors of course, but peers, leaders in their field, service providers and even competitors.

Industry events present great networking opportunities – here I’m not just thinking of just Gartner, AMR, Forrester events but also specific vertical events such as NRF. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend and present at many of them. I did most of them this year, (particularly as it related to the launch of Drive Business Performance) and have learned to make the best of them (in fact, I won a top networking award from Gartner this year!). I’d encourage everyone to think about industry events not just as a big lecture but as a way to connect with people who share your problems – attend most sessions of course, but reach out to people, listen, ask questions – there is so much more beyond just sitting down by yourself.

Specifically, on the readers/authors connection – there are many reasons why it’s important to connect authors and readers as part the education process. The connections are valuable for BOTH the readers and the authors.
More specifically:
•As an author – I learn a lot through the many interactions I’ve had with CXOs, managers and others prior, during and after my presentations. Over the last two days, I had the opportunity to present three times on Business Intelligence and the experience is an absolute thrill. Not just the presentation, but the interaction with the audience and the questions they ask. Their opinion matters to me and their personal experiences often enrich, reinforce my material. When our views differ, interactions are all the more important because they help both of us think about the issue from our respective vantage points. Finally, I often re-use examples brought up by the audience and might bring their arguments in my next speech, article or book. It ends up benefiting me and the community as a whole.
•As a reader – you want to meet the author. Period. Not for the autograph, not just for the condensed presentation but for the background stories and all the knowledge that never made it into the book! I have countless human stories, soundbites that didn’t find room in my book. These stories are very instructive of why I wrote certain passages and they provide more color to a point. In fact there are so many, it could probably fit another book!

In short – I’d advise the community to continue network, exchange views and continue to think of themselves as constant learners. This comment also applies to authors by the way (check out Jim Collins bio for an example of what I mean – he considers himself “a student of companies”). Go to as many events as you can – talk to as many people as you can. Argue, ask questions and share your passion – nothing can replace the human connections of a community – our people, their ideas and the diversity of their opinion is what enriches our debates and what will make our industry advance.

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