Okay – I know that the heading of this post shows my age, and that some people have never seen a typing pool, but I really think it needs to come back. Well, not it, we don’t have type writers anymore, but the principle.
On Friday my boss was asked to do some budget stuff. She’s an expert wordsmith. She’s a lawyer by training and she is brilliant and problem resolution and scenario analysis. She is not what you would call a numbers person. And yet, to complete the task she’s been given, there needs to be budget work. I offered to take it on because (as you can tell) words are not really my thing and I’m not great at scenario analysis. We complement each other that way. But the question is, why do we ask people to do things they aren’t trained, experienced in?
A more real application is in my role where I’m teaching academics how to use editing software to get their lectures organised for online presentation. I’m coming to the conclusion we need an ‘editing pool’. We are wasting in opportunity cost the time the academics are spending to edit.
But, on the other hand, by editing their lectures, they actually have to listen to what they have produced. They have to think about their style and approach. They are learning about what they do as a teacher. And this is valuable.
So maybe it is worth teaching everyone a little bit about every skill so that they can gain a fuller picture of the world they live and work in? Moving from having a typing pool to people doing their own document development meant they could better visualise what the final version would be. They could alter their language as they edited their own material and refine their work to produce a higher quality product. (Yes, okay, not always…..but stay with the vision). But having a typing pool meant that people didn’t have to learn skill of typing, they could do what they were best at. They could perform to their competitive advantage. I think I’m stepping into the conversation that we are becoming a population of generalists, which is starting to step into the PhD planning of mine. I love that my job is directly linked to my interests. It’s true, do what you love and you never work a day in your life.
This brings me back to the beginning. I like budgets. I think they are an interesting problem. More to the point, I’ve done them in the past and even have some training. It’s insane to expect my boss to do the budget. It’s sensible to ask me. I think the question I have, is it insane to ask academics to learn how to use editing software?