Monday, 26 July 2010

Flexible working

In the UK, levels of homeworking rose by 20% over the last decade with 12.8% of the workforce (3.7 million people) working mainly at or from home by the end of 2009. The self employed make up approximately two thirds of this number. Although increasing numbers of companies offer staff a chance to do some or all of their work from home many employers still insist on workplace visibility day in and day out.

Perhaps organisations are failing to envision just what a virtual workforce can achieve. In Going nowhere – but fast! E-Employment – the next internet revolution, Business Information Review 27(2), Ron Messer argues that knowledge workers operating in the virtual world represent ‘the primary business assets of the new millennium'. This largely unrealised value lies with their ability to network with others over time and space. Organisational cultures can survive and evolve in the virtual world as evidenced by the successful collaboration of the open source software movement. Just how much of your organisation would be more creative and effective if e-employment was the norm?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Artistic outlet for knowledge managers

The Festival season is in full swing, certainly here in the UK. This year, the programme on offer at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea includes 'The Knowledge Emporium'.

Local people are encouraged to share stories and knowledge and these thoughts will be integrated into a programme of workshops and performances throughout the festival. In other words, it is a collaborative, iterative, community focused knowledge creation and sharing exercise!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Creative chaos

Creativity and innovation continue to be reckoned as a critical source of competitive success. Creativity, chaos and knowledge management, Sara Smith and Scott Paquette, Business Information Review, 27(2), explores the importance of chaotic environments in stimulating the creation of new knowledge. They suggest that encouraging chaos should therefore be one of the roles of the knowledge manager, a very different view from many advertised roles which focus on knowledge organisation.

Certainly the success of Google and Pixar (the case studies featured) can be seen to be linked to environments that encourage serendipitous connection. These connections are certainly an area that the knowledge manager can stimulate through enabling collaboration and networking activity.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

How professional associations adapt to challenging times

Professional Associations face a number of challenges as their overheads rise, the economic future become more uncertain, event sponsorship reduces, and increasing membership fees to cover the cost of member services is a sure route to decline. These issues are eloquently described in his 2010 Conference speech by SLA Treasurer, Dan Trefethen.

SLA is strenuously cutting costs and reviewing structures whilst making its best efforts to meet the needs of its members.

Candle in the wind or a beacon for the future? Professional associations facing an uncertain future featured in June’s Business Information Review (27(2), is therefore particularly timely. Stimulated by the demise of CiG, Oriole Newgass explores what makes professional organisations work for their members, and suggests why some are successful and some not so. The issues facing CILIP are identical with those facing SLA and suggest that the larger professional organisations may face greater difficulty than those with a narrower focus.

Getting involved with a professional organisation has been a great development route for many leading information professionals. Now is the time for all of us to review what we gain from this involvement and to see how we can realistically help sustain a viable future for those organisations that we align with best.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Libraries as cupcakes

For those who might have missed it, here's the link to the NPR piece on libraries as 'the next big thing'.

Feeding the lions

'A decision made without information or knowledge is pure gambling'. So says Frank Ryan in Evaluating Information Services, Business Information Review, 27(2).

Frank’s expertise in the commercial information resources relevant for investment decisions in Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union is second to none. However, in this article he distils the experience of purchasing information resources over many years to share the key aspects to probe before you buy. Share Frank’s advice on assessing value for money. And did you know that 'feeding it to the lions' is a hugely important precautionary step?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Intranets - good practice for 2010

Intranets are now pivotal channels of communication for most organisations. Yet so often their content, design and accessibility falls short of user expectations. Real-world intranets in 2010: SWOT analysis featured in Business Information Review, 27(2) provides an excellent review of current good practice and lessons to learn. Written by Tracy Beverly, and reflecting many years of hard-won corporate experience, the article provides evidence of the five key points for Intranet success as well as the challenges of search, metrics and usage tracking.

And, if you feel that the use of your organisation’s Intranet for providing business information and for knowledge management can be improved, this article will certainly provide ideas.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

NHS White Paper

This week’s talking point comes from the government’s White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.

Full of messages about information, the document should excite all those whose role is concerned with information and knowledge management in the NHS today. Soundbites that warm the opportunistic heart include: 'Putting patients first through an information revolution'; 'A culture of open information, active responsibility and challenge will ensure that patient safety is put above all else'; and 'The Department is committed to evidence-based policy making and a culture of evaluation and learning'.

Most importantly the White Paper highlights the need for an information revolution in the NHS. This heralds a vast improvement in the availability of comprehensive and accurate information on conditions, treatments, and lifestyle choices as well as the prospect of online communication between patient and practitioner.

One could be cynical about the chances of success in delivering such major organisational and service change but the principles in the White Paper adhere to the common sense thinking of Muir Gray, the first CKO for the NHS, and the vision driving the NHS Direct Online service. Although the information strategy for the NHS is scheduled for the year end, the implications of 'Putting patients first' suggest major changes in the way that library and information services are organised to deliver the published information and information management skills that evidence based practice and patient information access demand. These were previously highlighted by the Hill Report.

There is bound to be much angst over the prospects for change and a focus on potential threats to current library and information services. People involved in published information supply, in information literacy training and in practical application of knowledge management must respond to the White Paper with imaginative approaches to ensuring that the NHS has access to the information it needs and makes the best use of its own knowledge and experience. Cutting bureaucracy and administrative costs is a key message for the NHS but is not incompatible with the required level of excellence in information and knowledge related activity, without which the NHS service will be at high risk of failure.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Bad information!

A survey conducted by SLA and Dow Jones has confirmed what many information professionals have suspected - that bad information is bad for business. The survey found that the dangers of unreliable information on the free web include making bad business decisions, missing opportunities and wasting time double checking facts.

You can see the press release and the report here.

More ammunition the next time someone tells you there's no need for information professionals in the age of Google!

Friday, 9 July 2010

The real value of high cost websites

Rory Cellan-Jones continues to uncover the costs of government websites in his blog. In his latest piece, he tries to unravel just exactly how a website (Business Link) can cost £35 million pounds a year to run.

Take some time out to read not just this article, but [some of] the many readers' comments: from website developers who quote considerably less for the same work; from those who attempted to introduce freeware solutions inside government (to no avail) and those small-and medium-sized providers who lost out to the 'big boys' when bidding for government projects.

As we are all aware, the days of freespending on large projects should be well and truly behind us. In our September issue we will be publishing an article about cloud computing and its potential, not just to help organisations contain costs but also to help them build organisational capability.

CILIP Chief Executive

CILIP has announced the appointment of Annie Mauger, who will take up the post in November 2010.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A moment's madness

I attended the excellent Library and Information Science Research Coalition conference at the British Library this week. The well designed programme enabled both audience participation and expert input from speakers. The one-minute madness strand really made an impression and demonstrated yet again that we should all be ready to share important messages in as punchy a way as possible (elevator speech anyone?).

Delegates used the opportunity to share information about their research interests and to find others who had similar interests or who could provide help and support. Most impressive was the ability of almost everyone to speak for exactly 60 seconds without the need for the Chair's 2010 version of 'the gong' - the i-phone vuvuzela app - to hurry them along.