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Yesterday-Todoay-TomorrowAccording to marketing whiz Mitch Joel, author of Ctrl Alt Delete (Business Plus, 2013), we’re all sort of hanging out in uncharted territory these days, or as Joel puts it “purgatory.” New media technology has forever changed both the way we do business and the way we communicate with each other. Even those companies (and individuals) willing to adapt aren’t quite sure which way to adapt to ensure their future viability – or employability.

Joel’s goal is to provide a reboot roadmap for businesses (Section 1) and individuals (Section 2) that will help them successfully navigate future opportunities. His key message is that digital interaction and communication is rapidly becoming the medium (and skill set) through which all future opportunities will be realized. As a corollary, the rapid technological changes that will infuse this digital environment mean that careers will no longer be in any way “linear” – instead you’ll be pretty much constantly expanding your skills in the direction of new opportunities.

To quote the author,

…there are bigger forces at play: technology, connectivity, mobility, analytics, data, creativity, commerce, publishing, and more that will continue to reshape and change how we do business. So where does this leave you and our career? Do you adapt or die? Maybe it’s more like tweak, iterate, and get comfortable with the squiggle [Joel’s term for nonlinear career growth] as this purgatory unfolds. (p.149)

So what does all of this mean to those of us tap-dancing as fast as we can to keep our LIS skills aligned with emerging career opportunities? I’d translate his key points as 1) pay attention to what’s happening on the edges of things, where opportunities often emerge; 2) watch for “collisions” of ideas that cross departmental lines and see where and how you can contribute; 3) think of yourself as a perpetual entrepreneur, coming up with new solutions and identifying or creating new markets for your skills. Suggests Joel,

Seeking moments of collision, looking for new and interesting projects to take on, understanding that work has become a project-based place where groups come together, solve problems, and then look for more problems, have all become parts of the new normal for most businesses. It is those exact skill sets that you must embrace in the here and now. (p. 165)

Although the book’s pitch isn’t necessarily targeted toward LIS professionals, a lot of its key messages resonate with the chaotic employment environment we’re currently navigating. Especially Joel’s advice to “see yourself as an explorer, colonizer, and navigator of your own destiny.” Yep, it’s going to be important for us to embrace the squiggle – or at the very least, determine that we won’t be derailed by it.

Ctr Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It, by Mitch Joel. Business Plus, 2013. 288p. ISBN 1455523305.