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John Reiling, PMP, SSGB: Are You “Knowledge Seeking” and “Problem Solving” – or Both?

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Here’s a quick roadmap to greater professional effectiveness!
Many professionals are either “knowledge seeking” or “problem solving” – but, to their detriment, not both.

You can create a one-two punch for professional effectiveness by combining “knowledge seeking” and “problem solving”.  Let me show you what I mean by looking at some details of some popular bodies of knowledge today.
Here are three similarities between ITIL and Six Sigma – and the overarching value of project management.
1. Six Sigma emphasizes the “Voice of the Customer”, referring to the need to orient all of our initiatives to the needs of customers.  ITIL has a definite market orientation in establishing the right mix of services and satisfying customer requirements.
2. Six Sigma can be applied to IT environments as you would to any organizational process – with the goal of continuous improvement and process optimization.
3. ITIL is about organizing IT functions, grouping processes, and providing the required structure (process, metrics, procedures, and resources) to operate efficiently and effectively and to avoid chaos – which is the essence of Six Sigma approaches and techniques.
Note also the value of leveraging sound project management techniques in Six Sigma and ITIL initiatives!
OK, so there are similarities, or overlaps, among the formal disciplines of ITIL, Six Sigma, and Project Management.  So what do these similarities or overlaps mean to you?
I often see lots of discussion where professionals are trying to link more than one body of knowledge, trying to come up with that golden nugget technique or morsel of wisdom that will make a difference.  Often also, they are trying to fit one knowledge base into the other – and often run into trouble, and end up clinging to one dogmatically.  I would term this to be “knowledge seeking”, and usually it is not oriented toward “problem solving”..
I think this is an individual, or situation-specific, matter.  What I mean is that any discussion of these similarities and differences provides the most value when applied to specific situations – with the object of solving a problem more effectively.
Indeed, the real benefit of each of these disciplines is the rigor of studying and stretching your mind, and of making the connections among different ideas and approaches.  As usual, in the end, it is not worth a lot without applying it, but what you choose to apply is up to you.  And the more you know, the more of these “connections” you can make, enlarging your arsenal of “problem solving” tools.
Thinking about new approaches should enable you to think about new – and appropriate – approaches to your problems.  The danger is that we will use the knowledge as “a solution in search of a problem”.
Instead, consider that each situation is different, and the more you know, the larger the reservoir upon which you can draw when you encounter new and unique problems.  Remember that “knowledge is power”.
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John Reiling, PMP, SSGB
John’s web site, Project Management Training Online, provides professional certification training in Project Management, Six Sigma, ITIL, and more.

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