I thought that discussing ISO900:2000 vs EFQM would be much more difficult for me that others in the group because I had little practical experience with it. How could I comment as I clearly knew so much less than the rest? I hate feeling like that so I decided that something had to be done!
I wanted to get up-to-speed quickley so I decided to try to use my network a little more. I'm sure my friends and colleagues are sick of me asking questions by now, especially my boss who I interviewed about EFQM and ISO9000. She gave me some really useful insights which I thought about and discussed in the seminar. We spent a while evaluating EFQM in the SME context which is a topic which seems quite elusive in the literature I think. I learned that having industrial experience not really a big deal after all – there are ways to bridge that knowldge gap. It takes a little confidence and effort but it can be done.
So some learning points i'd like to share with others who feel in the same situation as me:
Just because a person doesn't have industrial experience doesn't mean that they are at a disadvantage. Feeling at a disadvantage is mostly in the mind (or at least for me it is).
Everyone knows someone who knows someone else, unless you're a hermit, and people like talking about themselves and their own experiences, so just ask. In this way, a person may even be able to contribute more as they have a broader base of knowledge.
Every one of us interacts with many different organisations every day and I don't think that many people really look at what's going on inside them. It interests me why organisations do the things they do and I seem to find out new things every day. I think that keeping your eyes open and asking questions is essential. It's good to have a feel for when you're irritating someone though…:-)
I suppose this ties in nicely with the idea about how we absorb knowledge from others. It helps to have a use for it, such as interviewing a contact about a subject in which you are going to have a seminar. Don't search for somethng unless you have a question that you want to answer!!!