I've worked on a number of projects in the past few years that have played a key role in my professional life. In the cases I'll mention below, I was the primary "architect" and the projects took on what I've come to recognize as my "signature."
Writers want to develop a unique voice, artists work to refine their unique style. Why wouldn't the average professional want to develop their own professional "signature"?
When something is uniquely yours, it's both your genius and your blind spots that are embedded in that unique signature. Ideally, collaborative work can help identify and address the blind spots and in the process, improve the final product or outcome. Yet collaborative work means compromise. Most artistic masterpieces are not collaborative works but rather the works of individual artists.
Here are four projects -- far from masterpieces -- that have my signature.
- ICT4D: An Online Learning course
- Powering ICT: a decision-making toolkit
- Making the Connection: Scaling Up Telecenters for Development
- Learning Log: A Knowledge Management Novel
All four required substantive investments in research and synthesizing of knowledge. They are all signature products for me. Three out of the four required some innovative use of technology either in the development or dissemination of the product.
The first project, the ICT4D course, available on my website for several years since I stopped teaching it, continues to draw a significant number of hits every month. All of them have a didactic element. They are knowledge products. All of them involved doing something that had not been done before, an element of experimentation and pushing of some boundaries. Making the Connection is probably the best of the four because it got the benefit of significant help from a co-author and I had nothing to do with the final production process. It's definitely a finished professional product. The others have an amateurish look and feel to them.
A personal signature isn't the same as branding. Branding is about claiming some kind of ownership and you can brand products with your name even though they don't reflect anything like a signature. A signature isn't something you tag on to a product after the fact to claim it as yours. A signature is something about the product that claims you as the originator or creator.
Now if I could only look at these products objectively and identify my blind spots....
PS: This post falls in the category of half-baked insights that may or may not make sense. I have a feeling it's mixing apples and oranges. But then, isn't that were creative juices come from? Mixing apples and oranges? :)