I was invited to speak to the New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association on Tuesday evening, at the SLANY Annual Meeting.
One of the resources I used seems to resonate with what we’ve been thinking about in some of our recent posts. Despite our line of work — that is, the organizations and subject specialities of our employers — those of us affiliated with knowledge services are always open to suggestions as to how our perceptions about ourselves and our work are understood by others.
The resource I’m referring to is an article from Jim Hydock, VP and Lead Analyst for Outsell, working in Germany. Hydock’s article — SLA: Standing at the Crossroads — was published on July 14, 2015. Hydock was addressing specific issues challenging the Special Libraries Association (SLA), a long-standing professional association for information professionals and knowledge services practitioners (full disclosure: I’m familiar with SLA as I was the organization’s president a long time ago; I also wrote SLA at 100: From “Putting Knowledge to Work”® to Building the Knowledge Culture: The Special Libraries Association 1909-2009, the association’s centenary history published in 2009).
But all that’s beside the point. What I want to comment on is something Hydock posted that in my opinion connects directly to what we do as knowledge services practitioners and knowledge services strategists, regardless of the line of work we’re in (a point I make a lot of the time — KM and knowledge services are subject- and situation-agnostic and apply in all activities in which a group of people have organized to accomplish something or achieve some objective).
Referring to a recent study about SLA, Hydock notes:
As the SLA report points out, the old model of information flowing from a central source, mediated by an info pro, and parceled out to end-users as needed is gone for good. End-users, whether they be students or faculty, researchers, marketers, or corporate strategists, are comfortable accessing their own information, using information that comes from myriad sources, and viewing content as dynamic —something to share, dissect, augment, or repurpose — and to be available on multiple platforms simultaneously.
Having social media tools for internal knowledge sharing in many organizations further fosters the knowledge management model, although it differs in every enterprise depending on its internal DNA. Not surprisingly, at the Boston conference we noted several vendors that have repositioned themselves as “knowledge management” solutions – an artifact from the 1990s, often maligned, that looks refreshed and, in many ways, reflects a more mature model for how institutions today deal with information — a combination of developing, curating, sharing, and implementing information and expertise from internal and external sources. (emphasis added).
In our work as knowledge services practitioners and knowledge services strategists, aren’t we working with that “often maligned” KM? Aren’t we using knowledge services — as the practical management and service-delivery methodology it is — to “refresh” (using Hydock’s good word) the very goals we’ve always aimed for with KM? And in the process benefitting everyone affiliated with our employing organization (regardless of whether our knowledge services are provided for a for-profit, non-profit, or not-for-profit organization)?
And when we think of knowledge services as “the practical side of KM” (as my colleague Dale Stanley refers to knowledge services), as “putting KM to work,” that’s when we see the pay-off for our organizations (and pleasing ourselves that the pay-off is provided by our own role in the organization). Leading to what I think is the most important comment Hydock made, that with knowledge services (and, yes, with KM for those who haven’t moved with us into knowledge services) we are working with a “mature model” for dealing with information, knowledge, and strategic learning.
And what do I like best? Hydock’s phraseology that — almost as well as anything I’ve read in a long time — links our definition of knowledge services to what we do: “developing, curating, sharing, and implementing information and expertise from internal and external sources.”
Am I on the right track?