With the up-coming 10th anniversary of Sarbanes-Oxley and related commentary, the role of (and the need for) the knowledge strategist becomes even more clear.
While most of us involved in KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy development recognize the value of what we do, we’re often asked questions such as: “Why does the company need a knowledge strategy?” or “When students complete a graduate degree in information and knowledge strategy, what kind of work do they do?”
The answers are pretty well conveyed in conversations about Sarbanes-Oxley (the U.S. law that establishes the reporting standards for all U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms) and similar legislation, including Dodd-Frank (a later U.S. law designed to “improve accountability and transparency in the financial system”). And while the jobs themselves might not have the title of “knowledge strategist,” employees with responsibility for and performing tasks related to information management, KM, and strategic learning are dramatically aware of their critical role. They are there to ensure that corporate and organizational reporting is done. And done well.
Yesterday’s “Room for Debate” opinion piece in The New York Times provides good background for describing the work of the knowledge strategist. The comments of four well-informed “debaters” writing under the provocative header of “Has Sarbanes-Oxley Failed?” make it clear that every organization or company of any size now has recording and reporting responsibilities that just weren’t taken very seriously in the past.
All of the comments provide good food for thought, but I was particularly taken with Lawyer Michael W. Peregrine and what he had to say. Peregrine titled his comments “The Law Changed Corporate America,” and he makes a good case that, as the sub-title puts it, “The old ways weren’t working. That idea lit the corporate responsibility movement.”
Here’s Peregrine’s assertion:
…the law has been spectacularly successful. Sarbanes-Oxley has forever changed the landscape of corporate governance. It has increased the accountability expectations we have of directors and officers, and their legal and accounting advisers as well.
Sarbanes-Oxley seized the center of corporate direction from the corner office and returned it to the boardroom, where it belonged. Moreover, the law encouraged the identification of “best practices” to guide boardroom conduct. It has helped to shape the focus of state courts and regulators on the proper application of other fiduciary duty laws. It has raised the public consciousness of corporate governance.
Good food for thought for knowledge strategists. And for others working in knowledge services who are thinking about moving into a more responsible role in the workplace.