Curation: The New Business Competency

by Sharlyn Lauby on January 6, 2011

In a recent post, Brian Solis declared 2011 “The Year of the Curator“.  All of a sudden, curation is a very popular term.  Now, popular terms don’t always translate into pertinent topics but the idea of curation really intrigues me.

One of the biggest conversations taking place in social media is about noise.  We have so much information available that we have to be able to filter out the unimportant content (aka “noise”).  It’s certainly an issue for consideration.  As business professionals, part of what attracts us to social media is the ability to get real-time, solid information as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with people we would otherwise never know.  But we can’t sacrifice time in the process.

That being said, how can we learn how to filter out the noise?

Early last year, I read a whole bunch of comments from people who declared that the way to filter out the noise is to unfriend and unfollow people.  They proceeded to announce they were deleting friends, followers and connections that they “didn’t feel were valuable”.

Wait, what now?!  I was incredibly confused by these announcements.  Whenever someone makes the statement they are “cleaning up their social media connections”, the first thing people do is check to see if they made the cut.  It’s just human nature.  And if they didn’t, well, I’m guessing feelings are immediately hurt.

I view it as the equivalent of going to a networking meeting and yelling that there are only a handful of people in the room worth talking to so everyone else can just drop dead.  I’m thinking most of us wouldn’t do that…so I’m not sure why it happens on social media channels.

Anyhoo, when I read Brian’s post about curation, it occurred to me…maybe the answer isn’t purging friends and followers.  It’s about curating the information we receive from all those connections.

Using the networking meeting as an example, it’s not about making the big “I don’t want to spend time with you” announcement.  When we go to a meeting, we spend time with the people who are the best conversationalists.  The ones who give the best information.  And we need to realize those people might change over time.  It’s about focusing on the information received.

Gary Woodill at Workplace Learning Today shared a 7-part series by Robin Good on the concept of real-time news curation.  The series outlines how to filter information effectively and what having curation skills means for your business in terms of revenue. Important stuff.  It’s a long read but one that could be valuable in the future.

All this talk about curation makes me wonder if, after all these years, we’ll come to discover that “Knowledge is Power” after all?

Image courtesy of kodomut

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Steve Browne January 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

Sharlyn – Thanks for your perspective on this. I like both the idea of “curation” and gleaning information from people so that you have the knowledge you need from them. Agreed that this approach gives you a better way to maximize your resources and not just “use” them.

Steve Boese January 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

Super post Sharlyn, and I think your observations about the value of curation and even information presentation skills will certainly increase in 2011 and beyond. Those public ‘follower purges’ are highly irritating and self-serving. Obviously if one feels that certain connections are no longer providing value then it is time to make a change, but the comments that accompany some people’s actions in that process are so irritating that I imagine even people that ‘survive the cut’ are so put off that they may sever the connection anyway.

Sharlyn Lauby January 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Thank you both for the comments. I totally agree the purpose of curation is to leverage resources. Just like in-person networking. But maximizing resources isn’t always just about “getting”. There must be balance in give and take.

That’s why I’m thinking curation is going to become an important way to manage information. Relationships change all the time, it’s perfectly natural. You can change a relationship without severing it and still maintain the resource.

Laura Schroeder January 17, 2011 at 3:38 am

I love the point about dropping unworthy contacts not being completely in the spirit of social. I suspect most people address the problem by ignoring most of what they see. But I’m also chuckling a bit at the idea of a long-winded, 7-part article on information filtration.

Sharlyn Lauby January 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

I agree – people probably ignore the folks they don’t find relevant. At least this way, if the situation changes, they can always start paying attention to those people again.

I hadn’t thought of the filtration series in that context. Too funny! Thanks for the comment Laura.

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