This post might to be considered (by some) as blatant promotion.
Yep! They’re right about that.
And Mr. Guy is making no apologies.
Over the last couple of years I’ve become aware of how a colleague named Jeri Lou McKinney – in Dallas TX – is making a difference in getting the KM, knowledge services, knowledge strategy message across to the corporate community. McKinney is the founder and CEO of the Corporate e-Discovery Forum – Knowledge Strategy (CEDF-KS), which the non-profit organization started in 2006. I want to write about McKinney and CEDF-KS because I want to make sure that anyone interested in knowing where our work with KD/KS/KU is going has the opportunity to sign up and become part of Jeri’s circle.
These are the people who are thinking about knowledge development, knowledge sharing, and knowledge utilization in their workplace (that’s the KD/KS/KU piece), people who are taking steps to ensure that corporate knowledge is shared as well as it can be shared. It’s a critical opportunity for those of us working in the field to influence how corporate knowledge – corporate intellectual capital – is valued and used as the corporate asset it is.
As I said, Jeri’s train pulled out of that station back in 2006, and lots of people in the corporate management community got on board. Why? Because it was clear that many of us were beginning to be concerned (is “panic” too strong a word?) about the whole data/information/knowledge direction. Was it going to far? Too fast? Was John Naisbitt right when he wrote in Megatrends (back in 1982!) that “We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge”?
Perhaps Naisbitt saw it coming. Certainly by 2006 we were beginning to be a little unnerved by what we were hearing about e-discovery, trying to figure out how we would manage the e-discovery process in our organizations. At first we thought the e-discovery issue was focused just on the legal side of organizational management and with companies in the financial community or other environments dealing with regulatory matters. Not so. It wasn’t long after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the later Dodd-Frank Act (2009) that corporate managers realized that all organizations and companies needed to be aware of the e-discovery process and establish good, solid e-discovery practices.
All well and good, and Jeri and her colleagues went to work thinking about e-discovery, pulling together CEDF activities that would enable corporate leaders with e-discovery responsibility to come together and talk about the issues that were keeping them up at night. With CEDF, they were given a resource for helping them as they struggled, an organization that is exactly what its title declares. CEDF was a forum, in every sense of the word, and its members were able to carefully arrange their professional lives so they could meet up and talk. CEDF gave them a place for discussing e-discovery issues, including such topics as best practices and lessons learned, of course, but also such difficult topics as vendor relationships, organizational reticence, barriers, and anything else that needed to be discussed.
Then, thanks to Jeri’s conversations with some of the CEDF members and with knowledge strategy specialist Anne Kershaw and those of us who advocate for knowledge strategy with all the enthusiasm we can muster, it started to become clear that to deal with e-discovery, we need an “overlay” of knowledge strategy. E-discovery, it turns out, is but one “flavor,” we might call it, of the larger issue that has to do with corporate knowledge strategy and the need – as we move deeper into the 21st century – for giving attention to the development of a corporate knowledge strategy. Or, at the least, to the development of knowledge strategy in the various subject areas of KM and knowledge services where we work, our communities of practices (CoPs).
Then came big data (yes, sometimes capitalized as “Big Data”).
So recent, and yet already the nerves are starting to jangle because big data – usually described along the lines of something like “data sets so large and complex they’re difficult to process” – also seems to be calling for a knowledge strategy focus. Everywhere we look, senior management is making suggestions, asking that something “be done” about big data. And corporate leaders dealing with the subject – often the same people dealing with e-discovery – get the message from Jeri: “Let’s go for it. Big data also fits into the CEDF-KS scheme of things – just like e-discovery – and a well-thought out and well-framed knowledge strategy can make a big difference. All we have to do is just get everybody together and talk about how each of us is dealing with e-discovery and big data.”
Hear this from Jeri McKinney:
“But it’s not just e-discovery and big data. There are many areas of concern, when we’re speaking about managing knowledge and providing knowledge services. And they all call for knowledge strategy. In CEDF-KS we have six Communities, each addressing a topic of critical importance to the corporate knowledge strategy community,” McKinney says. “CEDF-KS is a members-only community and we exist to provide a forum for the open and candid exchange of ideas and best practices that relate to knowledge strategy in each of the professional specialties – and across all six specialties as well, to ensure cross-boundary knowledge sharing.”
And what a group of topics to work with!
Just the names of the CoPs evoke areas of responsibility and concern to anyone in the corporate world connecting to knowledge strategy: eDiscovery, Information Governance, Knowledge Asset Management, Privacy and Security, Data Analytics, and Big Data Strategies.
“Is it clear why people join? Do you see why they want to be part of this?” McKinney asks. “There are some 330 corporations already represented in CEDF-KS – some with as many as five or six members from the same company – and we’re not stopping there. We have ‘way too much to offer to limit our knowledge sharing to just our current members. We want to grow CEDF-KS, to get to all the corporate leaders who need to talk about these issues.”
It’s not surprising that growth is on the minds of CEDF-KS leaders, considering the high volume of knowledge exchange that goes on among the current CoPs (also referred to as “National Communities”). I’m not – so far – in deep with all six groups, but of the two or three I’m familiar with, I’m impressed with the good work that’s being done (disclosure: I am a member of the CEDF-KS Advisory Board through my affiliation with the Knowledge Asset Management CoP).
And what is that work?
Well, there’s a list. McKinney calls them “goals and reasons to have a CEDF-Knowledge Strategy community,” and her characterization of what CEDF-KS does is pretty exciting for those of us working in knowledge strategy. Here’s the list:
- Co-creating innovation in CEDF-KS at large and in the CoP(s) or Community(s) of Practice
- Helping members thrive in their corporate environment through validation activities (community discussions, benchmark surveys, panel discussions, distance learning, etc.)
- Collaborating to create and share management principles and best practices
- Intentional application of knowledge obtained through CEDF-KS membership
- Networking and strategic learning from CEDF-KS members’ experiences.
- Dissemination of lessons learned through the publication of occasional papers and advisories.
In opening the doors to new members, McKinney and CEDF-KS leadership make it clear that there’s no expectation that all members will be experienced leaders in the corporate community (although, to be fair, most of the CEDF-KS people I’ve met seem to fall into that category). Membership categories include:
- Consultant/Industry Expert/Lawyer
- Service or Technology Provider
So it all makes sense, doesn’t it? And it makes you wonder why it took so long to come about.
But that doesn’t matter, does it? CEDF-KS as an organization is moving forward. Jeri McKinney and the members of CEDF-KS are on their way to solving the problems – or at least addressing the problems – that demand knowledge strategy solutions. They are driving CEDF-KS as the knowledge nexus for people involved in knowledge sharing at the corporate level, and it’s our opportunity to work with her to take knowledge sharing forward. I, for one, am excited about what I see CEDF-KS doing, now and in the very near future.