Our second post in this series looked at the work of the knowledge strategist from the broader strategy perspective.
Not surprising to readers of these posts from SMR International, there’s another point of view.
While this is not one of the “other voices” of the posts’ title, you expect me to have my own take on this subject, don’t you?
Here’s one approach to describing my point of view:
Two years ago I spoke to a group of specialist librarians about their career transitions – since a lot of change is going on in specialized librarianship – and I suggested that there are three types of people who work in this “knowledge domain” (as some of us call it):
- First of all, we’re Peter F. Drucker’s famous knowledge workers, those employees who undertake such activities as writing, analyzing, and advising. These employees are often not thought of as knowledge professionals, per se, and much of this work is performed by subject matter specialists in all areas of an organization. And it is this practice which leads, in some organizations, to the “promotion” (quote/unquote) of these individuals – people who act and communicate with knowledge within a specific subject area – to a larger or broader organizational role as “knowledge manager.” In this case, the connection with formal or academic KM learning, or even professional development or strategic learning, is often limited or if undertaken, self-driven.
- A second role is that of the strategic knowledge professionals, often thought of as “information professionals,” “content professionals,” records managers/coordinators, archivists, specialist librarians, and others working in related roles supporting the management of the organization’s knowledge domain. These employees can usually be counted on to contribute to an enterprise-wide understanding of a subject or group of subjects through focused analysis, design and/or development, and they use their research skills to define problems and to identify alternatives. They generally connect to professionals in other disciplines and work (generally) with captured knowledge – tangible information – in physical or electronic repositories, with the distinction being that the knowledge these professionals manage is strategic, directly connected to organizational or corporate effectiveness.
- A third “level” of knowledge professional (we might call it) are the organizational or corporate knowledge strategists whose work is generally thought of as the management of knowledge services, developing and implementing strategies for matching the corporate knowledge strategy with the organization’s business strategy or mission. As employees, knowledge strategists are expected to design and plan knowledge-related activities and policy, and knowledge strategists are particularly expected to give attention to future knowledge-related roles and activities that will affect corporate or organizational success. And a very important distinction with respect to knowledge strategists is that they are not necessarily people who have been educated to have or simply possess “information skills,” not as we use the term to connect with the work of information professionals like specialist librarians and the other information and knowledge professionals I just mentioned.