Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside

February 11, 2014

Today, I got a package in the mail that reminded me about  a great project I had the opportunity to be involved in. Ulla de Stricker is one of the gurus of knowledge management and information science.

KM Book The book can be purchase at: 

Ulla is a wise and energetic woman with an amazing amount of practical knowledge. She is first and foremost my mentor. She is also a great colleague. Back in August 2013 we were talking and she asked me to participate in the creation of a very practical work on Knowledge Management.

Collaborating with Ulla, Karen, Deborah, Gordon, Connie and Cynthia was a wonderful experience for me. Ulla describes in her post, New KM Book – Thanks to Collaboration.  You can see the list of chapters there.

Ulla provides a succinct explanation of the goal for the project:

Our goal was to construct a practical overview of “KM in the real world”.  Each of us has on-the-ground experience with KM in many forms, and it has been our pleasure to distill it for the benefit of our future readers.

If you are working with KM initiatives in your organization I highly recommend taking a look at this work. It covers cultural challenges, social media, the knowledge audit and so much more.

Perhaps one of the most useful components is related to leveraging consulting expertise. I was proud to collaborate with Ulla on that chapter and share some of the insights I have gained about why consultants can be a worthwhile investment to get the structure in place for a successful KM implementation.

Thanks to Ulla and all of the author’s for including me in this project. It is always a pleasure to share my own lessons learned.

Constance Ard, February 11, 2014

Digital Information: Gaps in Knowledge Understanding and Access

January 30, 2013

Stephen Arnold took a conversation he and a few of our colleagues had and wrote more about it in his Beyond Search blog. “Thoughts about Commercial Databases: 2013” is worth a review and I’ve added a few of my own thoughts here for your consideration.

The conclusion of our discussion is summed up nicely  by Arnold in that the digital future of information companies is gloomy and his post outlines a few familiar names in the world of libraries.

  • Ebsco Electronic Publishing (everything but the kitchen sink coverage)
  • Elsevier (scientific and technical with Fast Search in its background)
  • ProQuest (everything but the kitchen sink coverage plus Dialog)
  • Thomson Reuters (multiple disciplines, including financial real time info)
  • Wolters Kluwer (mostly legal and medical and a truckload of individual brands)

During our discussion the questions was posed, how can database companies grow? The short answer is their are no obvious growth patterns beyond acquiring other information publishers. A point that caused one in the group to say, eventually the beasts will begin eating themselves because of the hunger when there is no fresh meat. Amusing and yet frightening.

Arnold quotes “Why Acquisitions Fail: The Five Main Factory by Pearson Education” to explain the key factors in why acquisitions result in problems rather than soaring success.

The fact that library budgets continue to shrink, open access continues to grow and  large database companies fail to adjust business models for these realities causes deep concern for the researcher in me. As Arnold states:

The business model for these firms has been built on selling “must have” information to markets who need the information to do their job. The reason for the stress on this group of companies is that the traditional customers are strapped for cash or have lower cost alternatives.

Other concerns abound as well. As libraries continue to limit access to physical collections thanks to the value of library real estate, strain is placed on the serendipity of browsing researchers. Digital research presents its own challenges. It often leaves one feeling as though they have retrieved a a good match but is it really the best and is it complete? When you add in that many of today’s students, even those training to be librarians,  do not successfully distinguish between source and provider in the electronic age, the concerns for access, understanding and knowledge abound.

While Arnold concentrates on the outlook of commercial databases and even suggests that an acquisition by Google to monetize the content with ads could be a shift in the future of information publishing, there are other concerns to ponder.  Curated content has a future, but what that future holds in terms of commercial versus open access is yet to be thought out in light of what Arnold suggests as the trend for 2013 commercial databases.

Those who think that public search companies are keeping the archive of all digital information are in for a rude awakening. Librarians and information professionals need to get beyond teaching people how to search. As professionals, we have a duty to understand the business pressures of our information suppliers, free or fee, and what those pressures do to the availability of yesterday’s information in today’s reality of right now access.

Information professionals must think about and prepare for the inevitability of lost information. The Way Back Machine may be expanding their database but they are not archiving the complete history of companies that are no longer in business. Think about the number of start-ups that are no longer around, who were the corporate officers, what was their credit history? The gaps in corporate information mean that there will be gaps in ongoing competitive intelligence.

This is a simple issue on the surface with unfolding complexities that warrant thought and planning and action. Just as the burning of the Timbuktu library means of loss of valuable information, so too do the cost pressures and lack of access and exposure to digital data.

Innovation on the commercial side seems nearly impossible. Curation and access on the public search side is limited by the ability for providers to drive their profit in light of their own business models. Open access is being challenged to the point where advocates such as Aaron Swartz ends his own life. The Library of Congress is archiving Twitter when they may be better serving the longevity of knowledge and information by archiving the “free” information on the world wide web.

Of course, the practical part of me that understands that daily life grinds on no matter what understands that this is a good intellectual argument. In the long run will this have a significant impact on daily life? Probably not. It is something that when I think about the history of knowledge and culture, gets my mind whirling. Business will do what businesses do, libraries will do what libraries do and maybe just maybe the digital gaps won’t cause overwhelming repetition of mistakes.

Either way, it is fun to think and share and get input from intelligent colleagues.

Constance Ard, January 30, 2013

Model to Collaborate and Communicate Information Governance

December 5, 2012

I was browsing around the EDRM site last week and took a look at the developments for the Information Governance Reference Model. If you haven’t looked at this before, now might be a good time to do so.

This framework addresses some model behaviors that can lead to a high value business process that includes protective measures.

The IGRM Project aims to offer guidance to Legal, IT, Records Management, line-of-business leaders and other business stakeholders within organizations. The Project seeks to facilitate dialogue among these stakeholders by providing a common language and reference for discussion and decision-making based on the needs of the organization.

The various departments and stakeholders involved in the use, management and compliance needs of organizational information may be able to use this tool to communicate standards and policies that will allow for better protection. Enterprise information is a high value commodity within any company. Using it, managing it and keeping it fresh can be a strong competitive edge. This model may be instrumental in helping you find a way to remain competitive.

Constance Ard, December 5, 2012

Social Gets Valued in the Enterprise

March 2, 2012

I read “The Benefits of Social Enterprise” with interest. The series is all about Social Business and Social Enterprise.  The author’s take on the benefits of social business as applied to the enterprise indicates the shift in knowledge and information assets in today’s economy.

The article breaks down what an enterprise is and it’s level of effectiveness.  What I found interesting was the discussion surrounding the “Clone the Enterprise masters”.

Most significant was the possibility of mastery:

Imagine you could clone the masters within an Enterprise? Copy-and-paste their knowledge, wisdom, tips and tricks, overnight or within a few weeks or months? You could obtain (an appropriate sterile word, don’t you think) a young soul for very little money, fast-forward him or her into mastery within a year, and sell him or her for a tenfold – or just use the knowledge for the good of the company.

The author asserts that social tools can capture the unstructured information and let it flow throughout the enterprise.

Based upon my own research, that is a nice goal but it rarely is implemented effectively. The hierarchies do exist and information resides in silos.  The knowledge assets should be distributed. Without a dedicated knowledge professional working to make that program a success it rarely has the reach and depth that is needed to make the best use of that competitive edge.

Organizations that want to add value through the capture and distribution of organizational knowledge must dedicate more than social technology tools to the efforts.  An information professional can help establish and manage a system that will give you the competitive benefit.

Constance Ard, March 2, 2012

Hype Cannot Overcome the Basic Challenges in Education

January 20, 2012

In today’s world it is easy to overlook some of the basic challenges related to delivery of the cool new innovations in education.  The Washington Post has reported in “Apple Launches iBooks Software to Deliver Interactive Textbooks to Students on iPads” about the latest greatest slickest information delivery tool.

The target: elementary and high school.  The object: interactive textbooks. The flaw: underfunded education systems and a serious digital divide between the ability to purchase iPads and the attractiveness of the $15 dollar textbook.

While the Post article mentions that divide it is merely a passing observation.

It’s not clear how Apple plans to get it front of students, however, since textbooks are subject to lengthy approval processes by states. Also, few students have iPads, which start at $499.

There seems to be no discussion in the hype of the unveil of the fact that educations systems are facing major cuts in funding and the economic crisis is not alleviating the pressure of rising prices in necessities.  Therefore luxuries such as an iPad don’t seem to be a wise choice for textbook delivery in the nation’s schools.

Of course, maybe I’m shortsighted.  Perhaps Apple’s next reveal will be that they are creating a foundation to rival the Gates Foundation and its commitment to libraries and education with the end result of “an iPad in every hand”.

While I applaud the innovation in delivering critical information, let’s not get blinded by the hype of the slick technology and get back to classroom basics of good teachers able to teach arithmetic, reading and writing.  When we have those basics in our students they can go on to create the next slick technology and drive the economy forward.  The capabilities of technology should not outshine the purpose of education.

Constance Ard, January 20, 2012

Knowledge Economy Information Professionals Should Market Value – Not Skills

January 6, 2012

“Content Curation for Marketing” on the Slaw blog certainly gave me food for thought this morning. (Hat Tip to Nina Platt’s Law Librarian Daily Digest for the alert.) After months of being immersed in research about value and relevancy in today’s knowledge economy I have an affinity for new roles for the information professional.

Today’s information explosion certainly makes it plausible for information professionals to have an expanded role in today’s information rich work environments.

Colman offers a great summary of the session and some lessons learned through her own trial of aggregation tools.  She cautions that:

Content curation, whether used for internal or external purposes, is a very effective way to filter through the enormous amount of information that is being published on a daily basis. It helps you distinguish the signal from the noise.

Content curation is not a new role for information professionals.  Since time eternal the role of finding, organizing and distributing information has been a central function. It is the value gained by the activities that needs to be emphasized in today’s competitive environment. Without understanding the contributions they are making to the overall process and products of their requestor, information professionals are missing opportunities. So know the value of the skills and market that to maintain a competitive edge in today’s knowledge economy.

Constance Ard, January 6, 2012


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