Competencies: Not as Cut-and-Dried as Might Be Expected

"If I'm going to bother going to a special librarian, I want to find an incompetent one."

Granted, that's Seth Godin talking, and Seth is known for making provocative statements. And it's unlikely the task force appointed recently to update SLA's competencies for information professionals will heed Seth's remarks.

But even a cursory glance at the January/February 2012 issue of Information Outlook will show that Seth isn't the only one with an unconventional take on competencies. Business strategist Geoffrey Moore has one as well–competencies, he says, should set you apart, not merely reflect what you do best. Kare Anderson, a consultant and former Wall Street Journal reporter, says collaboration should be a core competency; Bruce Rosenstein, a student of Peter Drucker, says innovation is essential.

Clearly, competencies are not as cut-and-dried as might be expected. And developing and revising them aren't simple exercises either, as Sandra Hirsh and Carol Ramkey make plain in their articles. What is clear is that competencies matter, and not just from a philosophical perspective. As Geoffrey Moore notes, "To shift the ground of your core, and thus your core competence, is a leadership challenge of the highest order."

To read what these thought leaders have to say about competencies, take a look at the January/February issue, posted online at


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