Archives for June 2014

Team of Advisors – Developing support while gaining input

Fill-in-the-Blank Advisory Board.   Library Advisory Board, Knowledge Management (KM) Advisory Board, Information Center Advisory Board. Call it what you will, an advisory board can prove a valuable asset.

In addition to providing valuable insights for the strategic and tactical direction of the information center or KM initiative, advisory board members can become advocates and ambassadors strategically positioned throughout the enterprise.

To assemble a powerful advisory board, begin with a charter defining the board’s purpose and the members’ responsibilities. The charter does not need to be long.  One page should suffice in most cases.  The following charter outline will get your team off to a strong start.

Sample Charter Outline

Knowledge Management Advisory Board June 10, 2014

Purpose/Mission Statement Tell how the board will relate to the chartering organization and what role they will play overall.  A mission statement might read:

The ABC Company Knowledge Management Advisory Board will advise the KM team regarding priorities and investments in content and services intended to support ABC Company knowledge workers.  KM Advisory Board members act as two-way conduits between users and the KM team to communicate needs and to act as ambassadors promoting awareness and use of products and services made available through the KM team.

Authority Describe the organizational relationship of the advisory board.  For example:

The KM Advisory Board is convened by the KM team which resides in corporate Research and Development.

Membership Strategic selection of board members yields many benefits. Consider appointing individuals within key partner departments, colleagues who have self identified as information gurus or problem solvers within their own teams, and champions for services and products provided by your team.  Be very clear about the process for becoming a member.  For instance:

Membership is by invitation.  The KM Advisory Board comprises 10-12 permanent employees of the company who have shown interest in using knowledge for the benefit of the organization. Members of the KM staff convene and participate in Advisory Board meetings but are not members of the Board.

Term of Office Select a finite term that suits the culture of your organization. In companies with high turnover and mobility, 12 -18 months may be all one can expect. Other situations may point to terms of two years or more.   You can always add language to permit longer terms, such as:

A term of office is 18 months.  This may be extended by mutual agreement.

Responsibilities Members need to know what is expected of them so that they can budget time and follow through on commitments.  This section should include reference to meeting times and durations along with typical topics or activities.  For example:

The KM Advisory Board members may expect to spend three or four hours a month on Board activities.  This will include 6-8 meetings per year each lasting approximately one hour.

Board members are responsible for:

  • Maintaining awareness of projects, initiatives, and priorities within their departments or teams that could impact products and services provided by KM
  • Providing input to the KM team regarding existing and potential KM products and services
  • Communicating KM related activities to their departments and teams

Budget Authority In most cases the Advisory Board is just that – advisory, having no authority to budget or spend.  Typically this is made clear enough by simply not granting authority in the charter.  In some cases it is better to make this explicit in order to remove all doubt.  In that case you could say something like:

The KM Advisory Board has no authority to budget, allocate, or spend funds.

Adoption Date For future reference, include the date that the Charter was adopted or amended and by whom.

Adopted by the ABC Company Knowledge Management Department on June 10, 2014.

Knowledge Worker Defined

The term “knowledge worker” comes from Peter Drucker, the highly respected business management expert who coined the term in the late 1950’s. The concept first Drucker_mgt challengescame to my attention when I read Drucker’s 1999 book titled Management Challenges for the 21st Century.   Some have said that knowledge workers include those who think for a living. The more inclusive definition Drucker offers in this book makes more sense to me.  He frames it in the context of subordinates vs. supervisors, noting that it’s more about what you know than where you fall in the organizational chart. “…knowledge workers are not subordinates; they are ‘associates.’  For, once beyond the apprentice stage, knowledge workers must know more about their job than their boss does – or else they are no good at all.  In fact, that they know more about their job than anybody else in the organization is part of the definition of knowledge workers.” Drucker says that knowledge workers are part of a system and their key resource is information. Using the term knowledge worker rather than employee reminds us how important knowledge assets are to the success of an enterprise.

Information Update – June 2014

Information Update – Looking Back

Look for a new focus and even more valuable content for the 21st Century knowledge worker coming soon to Information Update.

The very first issue of Information Update hit cyberspace via email in September 1999.  The plain text, Courier font banner read:

Welcome to INFORMATION UPDATE.  Since you value accurate, up-to-date information, but do not always have time find it, you have received the inaugural issue of INFORMATION UPDATE.

During the ensuing 15 years Information Update focused on research strategies and tactics through DO IT YOURSELF feature articles. The very first issue revealed “Shamel’s Seven Searching Secrets”. (Readers know that I am very partial to alliteration.)  The DID YOU KNOW articles informed readers on value added services and products offered by the information professionals associated with Shamel Information Services.

Email me if you’re interested in taking a peek into the past, and I’ll send you a copy of that first Information Update.

Changes are Afoot

After more than 16 years as a researcher and consultant, I have noticed some important changes in client needs.  While business research remains a valued service, clients more and more often request help with managing knowledge and information within their organizations.  As we consult and advise on these topics we find greater and greater urgency to “know what we know”.

Thus, Information Update will broaden its scope from searching and finding to include selecting, sharing, organizing, and storing the information and knowledge content within organizations.

Information Update – What’s Next

Going forward, Information Update will focus on the needs of the knowledge worker in the 21st Century enterprise.  Workers today are flooded with information.  With increasing frequency we hear the call for filtering, organizing, and sharing information.  In 1999 Peter Drucker, business management guru, said:

“Enterprises and individuals will have to learn what information they need and how to get it.  They will have to learn to organize information as their key resource.”*

He went on to say that “[t]he most valuable asset of a 21st Century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.”*

*Drucker, P.F. (1999) Management Challenges for the 21st Century. New York: HarperCollins

Beginning with our next issue, look for Information Update to address the concerns of managing knowledge and information within an enterprise. Articles will suggest action items for all knowledge workers to improve productivity, support enterprise goals, and enhance overall knowledge management.

In the next issue, coming soon, we will provide a definition of “knowledge worker” and tips on chartering a knowledge advisory group within your organization.

Upcoming Workshops and Presentations

Maximizing Consultant-Client Partnerships: Key Success Factors

Cindy Shamel, along with Ulla de Stricker will offer a half day workshop on Saturday, June 7 at the SLA 2014 Annual Conference in Vancouver British Columbia

People who attended this workshop in the past say:

  • “The session was packed with information and practical tips.”
  • “It’s a great value.”

KM from the Trenches: Practical Tips for Making Knowledge Management Work in Your Organization

June 8, 2014 from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm Cindy Shamel will participate in a panel discussion of lessons learned in knowledge management, particularly the knowledge or information audit process.  Speakers are all contributors to Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations.