I love my brother. Its true he is taller, smarter and better looking than me. But I’ve never held that against him. When he was a wee lad, without realising, he was skilled at mangling the words to songs. Maybe my favourite was his version of “Back of My Hand” by the Jaggs. Russ was convinced the chorus was “I’ve got your number written on the back of my HEAD“. Brilliant. My dad and I were loath to correct him. And even when we did, I know he was not keen (nor were dad and I) to accept this ‘correct’ version.

This still makes me laugh.

I’m worried I have a flat-earth GIS Mindset!

So why am I worried about this so called flat-earth mindset?

I received this comment on my recent Now my GIS Manager has showed me .. what should I do next? blog post:

“As someone actually running a decent sized GIS program, I suggest your statement regarding ‘solve a problem using GIS’ and being an evangelist for GIS needs rethinking. None of us GIS managers in large organizations can afford to only think about GIS. I find that the more successful approach is to think “how do we solve the problem”. If we only come at it from the GIS perspective we pigeonhole ourselves. Senior management is just interested in a solution. Not everything is about GIS. If we come up with the ideas, whether they are GIS or not, then when we do suggest a GIS solution we’re taken more seriously. Otherwise we are just seen as the “GIS guy” pushing something that makes us look good or expands our operation.”

Adding to this initial comment:

“The profession is really stuck on maps. They may now be digital but somehow we are missing the fact that the real world just needs to solve problems. Sometimes maps just get in the way. The goal should not be to make GIS successful, it should be to make our organizations successful.”

I’ve been mulling this over this weekend.

An inflexible mind might still believe the earth is flat. That the song lyric is actually “back of my head”. Global warming is a myth.

As a flexible thinker, I am reassessing. And in total agreement with this comment. GIS is but one tool in an organizations toolbox. Certainly under-utilized. Definitely poorly understood in the context of solving enterprise business solutions. But GIS managers being evangelist for GIS?

I’ve been moving towards thinking GIS departments in many organizations will go away. There might remain a mapping group. But GIS will move into the enterprise problem solving and analysis group. It will become part of business intelligence (BI). Whether stand alone or integrated, analysts will be trained in solving WHERE based problems with GIS. So non-spatial folk will become spatial. Those spatially trained will need to widen their business problem solving skill-sets.

I have in my mind building bridges between problems, the technology, and solutions. Applying the most appropriate technology based on the problem and required solution.

The key question is how do we get from here to there. Widen the understanding of GIS, and make it a tool problem solvers use when and where appropriate?

Let’s finish with the Jaggs song; “I’ve got your number written on the back of my head”. I mean ….

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