I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.
However, I have been noticing a trend with companies have worked for, and even with my friends in GIS.
A TON of people “know” GIS, and by “know” I mean they can get by doing GIS in their companies without GIS training and doing only basic GIS.
I worked in a company where the survey design team (3 guys), 2 office supervisors and a field manager had a combined zero years of training in GIS. Yet, they did GIS every single day, and their job got done.
I was speaking with a friend of mine, and she said even her GIS department (2 people) was being underutilized at her company (over 500 people in an Australia wide mining company).
She was amazed at how little people took advantage of GIS, but just stumbled around doing the same old thing year in and year out.
This tells me 2 things about GIS:
- GIS will be treated like word processing. Anyone can do it, anyone can learn it, and anyone can use it… poorly.
- There is a HUGE opportunity to show how GIS can be done right in a lot of companies.
The opportunity (or secret) is to take a chance and show how GIS can help the company you are working for.
Knowing that this is half the battle, and here comes my favourite image!
You could be doing something you as a GIS person thinks is “basic”, but it is actually HUGE for your company.
Perhaps you are harnessing attributes for analytics, perhaps you are tracking how people move on your mine sites, perhaps you are compiling statistical information on company vehicles.
Show what you are doing. Show the people who matter.
The key here is to SHOW how GIS can push the company forward.
This is the first “secret”…
SHOW… Don’t Tell.
A lot of my success in GIS has been me simply showing the possibilities.
If I try to explain in words what I want to do, I get blank stares. “Online Maps” and “tracking equipment”? Oh ya… sounds good… NEXT (is what my boss said). Spatial analytics and automation of projects… all SOUNDS good… but they LOOK way better.
Use your GIS visual skills to show how GIS can be done better at your company.
This brings me to the second secret… which is actually really hard to implement.
It is better to ask for forgiveness, than beg for permission.
Every time I have shown how GIS can work, I never asked for permission, I just did it.
I am not saying be dangerous, or break laws, or bypass supervisors, I am talking about doing the work without being asked to do it or asking to do it.
You may step on toes, and I would make sure to work with people in the know, but sometimes you just have to do things before you have permission.
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