Guest Blogger Dale Stanley writes about how information professionals and specialist librarians can affect their future success in the companies where they work. Dale is Director of Literature Resources, Gilead Sciences, in Foster City CA and Senior Consultant, SMR International, New York NY. He is co-instructor (with me) for the Click U KM/Knowledge Services Certificate program, offered by SLA in cooperation with SMR International.
During the last decade—and in some cases stretching out over another prior decade or so—corporate and organizational leaders have come to recognize the benefits of high-quality information and knowledge management. It has been a phenomenal realization, this sea change in the way organizational leaders think, and it affects every information and knowledge exchange that takes place in every functional unit of every company or organization (indeed, some make the case that this move toward quality information sharing is taking place in society at large). So it is no surprise that with all the talk about “big data” and “drowning in information,” companies and organizations are looking for new leaders to address their information, knowledge management (KM), and strategic learning needs.
And it’s the perfect job for you.
As your company’s special librarian (or research associate, information center manager, information professional, strategic knowledge professional, or whatever you’re called in your workplace), how many times have you been asked to talk about knowledge management (KM) with a colleague? With a project manager? Or with a program officer? Or a company executive?
What about when you were asked to take on a knowledge management assignment (“We have a little KM initiative going and we need your help”)?
How did you respond?
The news for us—as SLA members—is that KM is now part of our working lives. It wasn’t always, and for many years our company’s leaders just didn’t think much about KM.
Perhaps we didn’t pay much attention either. We were too busy running our libraries, weren’t we?
All that began to change a few years ago, and we all found ourselves moving toward KM. For one thing, KM began to gain attention among leaders in the management community. And as managers began to connect the electronic capture of KM elements with knowledge sharing, performance, and strategic learning, the advantages of KM began to fall into place (and, importantly, to be recognized as corporate advantages). These advantages, in turn, began to make even more sense when senior managers began to recognize the futility of speaking about “managing” knowledge and put their interest in knowledge development and knowledge sharing in more practical terms.
By the late 1990s, we were speaking about knowledge services, the management and service-delivery methodology—a way to work—that combines information management, KM, and strategic learning into a single over-arching operational function. As a management methodology, knowledge services recognizes that the most critical asset of any group or environment is what its people know, and this knowledge—this intellectual capital—is the organization’s most competitive asset. Moving to knowledge services provides the organization with the tools its people need for ensuring that the company’s intellectual assets are captured, organized, analyzed, interpreted, and customized for maximum return.
Sound familiar? Of course it does, for a very simple reason: we do all these things, and we’re the experts for each task in that list above. There’s no question about it: the single employee in the organization best qualified to manage and lead the KM/knowledge services effort is the manager of the company’s specialized library/research center. Specialist librarians know about information, knowledge, and strategic learning. We know about knowledge development and knowledge sharing (what we like to call “KD/KS”)—it’s what we specialist librarians have been doing throughout our history. And for us individually, throughout our careers.
And now our work has a new flavor. It matches what organizations and companies are looking for when they talk about the need for a “strong” KM/knowledge services function in the organization. And it becomes clearer to us every day that we specialist librarians are the best people in the organization to work as knowledge managers and knowledge services professionals.
And if we’re not yet as highly specialized in KM and knowledge services as we want to be (or as our managers and clients would like us to be) we have the resources for developing our expertise, thanks to SLA. All we have to do is take advantage of Click U’s offerings of courses to support us in our work.
More information about KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy is available from SLA, beginning with the SLA Annual Conference in San Diego this week. KMKS101 (Fundamentals of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Services) is offered Saturday, June 8, following KMKS102 (The Knowledge Audit: Evaluating Knowledge Capital Use), offered on Friday June 7. [Special Note: KMKS101 (Fundamentals of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Services is also offered online during September, 2013, for both SLA members and non-members. Contact SLA Professional Development for more details.] The other four courses in the KMKS Certificate Program are available online throughout the year: KMKS103 (Knowledge Strategy: Developing the Enterprise-Wide Knowledge Culture) in August, KMKS105 (Change Management and Change Implementation in the Knowledge Domain) in October, KMKS104 (Networking and Social Media: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Sharing) in February 2014, and KMKS106 (Critical Success Factors: Measuring Knowledge Services) in April 2014.