K&IM Refer moved to http://kimrefer.info

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K&IM Refer 35(2), Spring 2019  Contents

K&IM @ CILIP Conference 2019

Denise Carter, K&IM Chair

 The Making of a KM Cookbook

Paul Corney, Chris Collison and Patricia Eng

Information at Work: information Management in the Workplace, edited by Katriina Byström, Jannica Heinström and Ian Ruthven: Review

Dion Lindsay Managing Director, Real Knowledge Management (DLC Ltd)

 What Do We Want To Be When We Grow Up?  How Data Is Changing Academic Publishing

Helen Edwards, Editor K&IM Refer

 Truth and Lies in Academic Publishing: Distrust in Research Highlights the Importance of Education inCritical Thinking Skills

Siân Harris, INASP

 The Launch of the Sub-Committee on Disinformation; and Discovery of the Parallel Parliament Website

Ruth Hayes, SCOOP (Standing Committee on Official Publications)

  ‘Sorting out stuff’ at Taxonomy Boot Camp London

Kat Allen, Information Today

 Report of the CILIP Knowledge Manager Accreditation Project Briefing at K&IM AGM, 7th Feb 2019

Simon Burton, Managing Director, CB Resourcing

 Report of the SCOOP Meeting Held on 13thMarch 2019

Steven Hartshorne, Secretary SCOOP

 Obituary: Andrew Zelinger (1964-2019)

Steven Hartshorne, Secretary SCOOP



K&IM Refer Winter 2019

Table of Contents Volume 35 (1), Winter 2019

The K&IM Awards 2018

Amanda Duffy, Chair, K&IM Awards Panel

           K&IM Walford Award 2018

           K&IM Walford Award: Who Was Dr Walford?

           Ray Lester

           K&IM Information Resources Award – Print Category

           How We Created The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

           Toby Pearlstein, Editor,The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

           K&IM Information Resources Award – Electronic Category            

           K&IM and UKeIG Information Manager of the Year 2018

           New Opportunities for KIM Professionals: Perspectives from Award  Winners

            Helen Edwards, Editor, K&IM Refer

           K&IM Knowledge and Information Award 2018

Practical Knowledge and Information Management

Katharine Schopflin

Jobs of the Future: AI and K&IM Professionals

Helen Edwards, Editor, K&IM Refer

Knowledge Brokers: Human Agency and Knowledge Sharing

Vipin Chauhanand Gillian Ragsdell 

Designing Better Information Environments: Review of the 2018 Taxonomy Boot Camp London

Galen Jones, The Open University


K & IM Refer: the journal of the Knowledge and Information Management Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), is published three times a year and distributed free to members of the Group.

 Editor: Helen Edwards

Editorial team: Ruth Hayes

Cover Design: Denise Carter

Contact: Helen Edwards 07989 565739; hogedwards@gmail.com

Copyright © The contributors and the K & IM SIG 2019

Online edition https://referisg.wordpress.com

Information about K&IM Awards and Bursaries is available on our website at:


ISSN: 0144-2384


The K&IM Awards 2018

Amanda Duffy, Chair, K&IM Awards Panel

 This year, the Knowledge and Information Management Group made five awards to either people or resources within our fields of interest.   The Walford Award and the Information Resources Awards have a long history, going back as far as 1970s and 1990s.  The K&IM Information Award, on the other hand, is completely new and the K&IM and UKeIG Information Manager of the Year is also new, and a welcome collaboration between two CILIP Special Information Groups.

Through these awards we hope to show the advantages of professional knowledge management and professional information management, and to help our members deliver high quality and respected services.

The K&IM Information Resources Awardsare given to outstanding information resources, either in print or electronic format, that are currently available and have a recognisable relevance and importance to the knowledge, information management, library and information sectors.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

K&IM Walford Award 2018

This year we received the largest number of nominations for the Walford Award ever.

The award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to knowledge management and information management.   We were looking for a forward thinker, an advocate for the profession, a practitioner’s practitioner and a genuine role model.  We quickly saw that Sue Lacey Bryantfitted all of these criteria.


As Senior Advisor at Health Education England, Sue has been the driving force behind the transformation of NHS funded library and knowledge services, shaping the vision of Knowledge for Healthcare working tirelessly to implement the change in behaviours and practice to enable information professionals to understand and fulfil their business-critical role in knowledge management.

Long before the term “knowledge broker” was popularised, Sue was working in such a role and writing extensively about the difference this role made to healthcare professionals.  Ever at the forefront of innovation she embraced the emerging use of the internet within healthcare and developed and launched e-bulletins on the hugely successful Doctors.net.  She started one of the first telephone health support lines and was responsible for developing a primary care and public health librarian support programme for the online National Library of Health.

An interest in innovation continues in her current role as programme manager for the independent Topol Review where the impact upon the health workforce of new technologies in healthcare such as AI, robotics and genomics is examined.

Sue has inspired a generation of health information professionals to broaden their remit beyond the walls of the traditional library and to take knowledge services to the bedside and the board room, working in embedded roles, producing synthesised and summarised evidence bulletins and facilitating knowledge exchange.

Raising the profile of health information services, she has advocated the essential role played by information professionals. As Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare, Sue has been at the forefront of developing a policy a policy for NHS Library and Knowledge Services in England and delivering the high-level #AMillionDecisions campaign -to encourage the employment and use of knowledge specialists.  As a result of the policy and the campaign, there is a united voice that has created a greater awareness across the health service about knowledge management and the role of knowledge specialists.


It was with great pleasure that the Knowledge and Information Management group gave the 2018 Walford Award to Sue Lacey Bryant.  The award was presented by Dr Ray Lester.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

K&IM Walford Award: Who Was Dr Walford?

Ray Lester

The Walford Award has been made for nearly thirty years.  Over that time, the criteria have been amended but the award has always been called the Walford Award.    So who was Walford?  At the 2018 Awards Ceremony Dr Ray Lester, who knew and worked with Dr Walford, gave the following talk.

When some fifteen years ago I agreed to become the chief Editor of what became ‘The New Walford’,I had three major concerns: first, whether such a print reference work would still be worth producing in ‘The Digital Age’; second, whether it would be possible to find enough library and information professionals who would be prepared to edit its individual subject sections; but, third, that the Volume I might produce would pay due and proper recognition to the originator of the ‘Guide to Reference Material’on which my Volume would be at least in principle be based. So I suggested as its title ‘The New Walford’ a la ‘The New Grove’ and similar.

Albert John Walford, who died in 2000 at the age of 93, was truly a remarkable librarian and person. He left school and worked as a public librarian for about 20 years from 1924, during that time obtaining part time a librarianship qualification from University College London, a BA in History from Birkbeck, and an MA and a Doctorate in Latin American Studies, also from UCL. During the War, he served with the Army in North Africa and Italy, where he was in charge of the Forces Command Libraries. He then worked after the War at the Ministry of Defence, from 1946 to 1973, following that with work at the Commercial Assurance Company in the City, until he finally retired in 1978. He lectured part time at the North Western Polytechnic, which of course later became PNL and then part of London Metropolitan University. He edited the Library Association Recordduring the 1950s.

But in the context here, it is his work for and alongside the Library Association Reference, Special and Information Section, founded in 1951, which is especially notable. He began work on what became the ‘Guide to Reference Material’in 1955, producing its first edition in 1959. For that first edition there were some 70 to 80 contributors. The last Edition of the Guide for which he had an overall view was the fifth edition of the Science and Technology volume (by that time the original single volume Guide had expanded to three Volumes), which appeared 30 years later, in 1989 (when I calculate he would have been aged about 82!). Because of its outstanding quality, “Walford” became the reference work guide of choice worldwide, easily surpassing in quality its US, French and German rivals. Indeed, it has been said that Dr John Walford for several decades was the most well-known British Librarian throughout the world! But John did not just oversee the Guide itself: there were several spin-offs, so much so that for a time, it was only the sales of John’s books that kept Library Association Publishing (the precursor of Facet Publishing) solvent!

And on top of all this work from a quiet unassuming man, was Dr Walford’s invaluable contributions to the judging for the McColvin and Besterman Medals. Such contributions in 1991 indirectly led to the foundation of the Walford Medal: instituted ‘to recognise continued and sustained work in the field of bibliography’.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019


















K&IM Information Resources Award Print Category Winner

 The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management is an impressive and authoritative work. Its two editors, James Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein, are both highly experienced practitioners and theorists.   The work intends to capture both the essence and the best practice within the increasingly growing and complex world of information management.



The editors state that whether read sequentially or in topical combinations around common themes, the chapters in this book are meant to provide a construct through which both the practitioner and the student may learn about the major challenges facing them, and also find guidance on how to approach those challenges regardless of the type of organisation in which they work.

To achieve this end, the editors have gathered together 38 high quality submissions from experts mainly in the USA and the UK to create an essential tool for anyone seriously involved in the management of information.  We are talking about a wide-ranging book, one for people working in public, academic, government and special libraries and information centres. By including all types of libraries from a variety of places, the editors hope to foster the cross-pollination of ideas and practices.

This is a big book; it runs to nearly 900 pages and it is expensive at £150 (lighter and slightly less expensive in the Kindle version), but it is easy to use.   It is a must-have tool whoever you are and whatever you are doing in the information field.  It is up-to-date, the structure is clear and flows well, there is a comprehensive and useable index and plenty of references for further reading.

I could go on describing this major contribution to the literature in our field, but instead I will direct you to the review that Helen Edwards, editor of K&IM Refer, wrote in the Autumn 2018 issue (https://referisg.wordpress.com/) .  Read Helen’s article and you will understand completely why The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management, published by Emerald Press is essential for anyone seriously involved in the management of information, and why it is awarded the K&IM Information Resources Print Award for 2018.

At the Awards Ceremony on 12thDecember 2018, Stephen Phillips and three other UK-based contributors accepted the award on behalf of all the writers and the Emerald Press.

The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Managementwas undoubtedly THE BOOK to win the Award, but mention must be made of two of the other titles nominated:

Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stationsby Simon Jenkins, published by Viking Press, and A History of Children’s Books in 100 Booksby Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad, published by The British Library are both examples of superbly produced books.

Apart from devotees of their subjects, both books will have a limited use within the knowledge and information world, but they do show how information can be made available both attractively and economically – both cost just £25.  The judging panel thought their value should be acknowledged.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

How We Created The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

Toby Pearlstein, Editor, The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

The Emerald Handbookhad two editors; sadly James Matarazzo died in April 2018 shortly after the handbook was published, but his co-editor, Toby Pearlstein, has written the following:

“Our original pitch to Emerald to create an entirely new Handbook, distinct from the previous eight editions, concentrated on our desire to create a resource that would not only be able to be used as a text to help educate new information professionals, but would also be a pragmatic ready reference covering topics in which current practitioners would find opportunities to enhance their contribution to their organization’s success and/or to the sustainability of their careers.  By including all types of libraries from a variety of geographies we also hoped to foster cross-pollination of ideas and practices.   We asked each of the authors to create a story arc for their chapter that covered background/history of the topic, how the topic was currently challenging the profession and them in particular, and a case study of how the author addressed that challenge.   This was the easy part of the process.

Finding almost 40 authors who could help us accomplish this goal was not so easy and keeping them and ourselves on deadline – even more challenging.  Jim and I had a system for collaborating, whether it be for an article or for a work of this size.  We had the good fortune to live in adjacent towns so spent many a morning at each other’s homes or at a local diner over breakfast working our way through what we hoped to accomplish with each writing project.  While there wasn’t a lot of yelling, there was definitely a lot of spirited discussion until we settled on that “hook” around which the publication would develop.  For the Handbook we labored over lists of potential authors who could write knowledgeably about the topics we had selected.  We sent invitations or called those potential authors we knew personally; not all of our first choices were available to meet our deadline and for some topics the authors didn’t come onboard until several months had passed.  In round one of reviewing the manuscripts, we each read them and discussed if they met our expectations.  Usually we had to get back to the author more than once with requested changes, additions or clarifications we wanted them to make, which they all were remarkably cooperative about making.  Round two was the final read through of each chapter, as well as the materials we wrote ourselves to see if it all hung together.  We realized at that point that we had the order of things all wrong and switched the whole Table of Contents around to what we felt was a more “real-world” flow.  Each chapter would stand on its own and would also be able to be combined with other chapters as seemed practical to the reader to give them a holistic view of those topics which logically overlapped.

About one year into this process, our final role as editors was to read aloud the chapters to each other to double check that everything was understandable, flowed well for the potential audience, and as a whole met our expectations.  You can’t imagine how excited we were to learn at this point, that we did not have to reconcile the form of all the footnotes!  Emerald assured us their copywriters would take care of this and we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The final submission of the manuscript was followed by about another month of the publisher checking with each author on various points and ensuring that all illustrations were properly permissioned.”


K&IM Refer 35(1). Winter 2019

K&IM Information Resources Award Electronic Category Winner

Judging print materials on their relative merits can be difficult, but judging an electronic resource can be best described as challenging.  We do use slightly different criteria from the print resources to enable us to judge aspects such speed, reliability, ease of navigation, currency, whether the site is free or subscription-based and whether it contains advertisements etc. Even so, the sites can be enormously different in approach, design and target audience.  Some sites have an extremely broad subject coverage, whilst others are highly specialist and deep.  And of course the ‘home’ of the resource can be anywhere in the world.

www.clinicalTrials.gov   falls well and truly into the last two categories.  Firstly, it is maintained by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Secondly, it is a complex and specialised resource, being a database of publicly and privately funded medical clinical research studies conducted in the USA and 195 other countries.  It provides patients, their families, health care professionals, researchers and the general public with easy access to studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions.  There are nearly 300,000 studies recorded, and these can be open or closed studies, those that have reported their results, and those where the results are still awaited.

The design of the site is traditional but effective with excellent navigation.  The judging panel were impressed by the particularly helpful guidance provided on searching such a complex resource.  And also, how to read a study – very useful if you are new to the subject.  There is also a glossary and a good FAQ section. Once you have completed your search, you can download data acquired.  There are clearly stated quality control criteria, although, of course, this is dependent on the information provided from the sources.

This is a unique resource from a highly reputable authority which is updated on a daily basis. To a non-medical person, this database may seem daunting at first, but is just as usable and relevant to them as to any member of the health or medical profession.   Its objective is to increase transparency and improve public awareness of research and it does that most successfully.

Because the ‘home’ of the website is in the USA, no one was able to accept the award in person.  However at the Awards Ceremony on 12thDecember 2018 a short video was shown in which Dr Rebecca Williams, Acting Director of Clinicaltrials, spoke about their pleasure at being given the award.    Then Shane Godbolt, formerly Director of the UK-based Partnership in Health Education and an honorary member of the Medical Library Association of America accepted the award on behalf of Clinicaltrials.gov.

Once again, the judging panel felt that another of the nominations received should be mentioned. TNA, The National Archives, atwww.nationalarchives.gov.uk, is an incredible site for historians, researchers, genealogists, teachers and students wishing to gain access to 1,000 years of British history from the Domesday Book to the present.   As well as their own holdings, there are links to many other sites, many of which, unlike TNA, are paid-for services.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

K&IM and UKeIG Information Manager of the Year 2018



This is the first time this joint award between the Knowledge and Information Management Group and UKeIG, the UK eInformaiton Group has been made.  Working together on this award has been a successful and pleasurable experience.

This award is for an individual who has made a significant contribution to the discipline through their work and professionalism.


Virginia Power is a Lecturer at the University of the West of England and specialises in Information Science and Management.

She has demonstrated a long-term commitment to Information Management, working as an information specialist for over 40 years in a variety of library and information services settings including schools, FE, HE and the public sector.

She leads the teaching on the Masters-level Information and Knowledge Management module at UWE where students greatly appreciate her ability to teach Information Management theory strongly rooted in her practical, professional experience.

She is also the course director for the university’s Continuing Professional Development course Personal and Organisational Managementwhich is designed for library and information services managers.  It supports those who want to manage change, lead teams and implement Information Management workplace projects.

Virginia is a CILIP member and active in the CILIP Special Interest Group Multimedia and Information Technology, and she is also a CILIP Mentor for library and information professionals seeking Chartered status.

The judging team were struck by Virginia’s career record in information management and the fact that she had worked both as a practitioner as well as now as an academic.  In particular, they were impressed by the mentoring of CILIP candidates for chartership and her volunteer work with CILIP SIGs, which also demonstrated support not only for the information management profession in general but for this organisation in particular and should be recognised.

The award was presented to Virginia by David Ball, Chair of UKeIG.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

New Opportunities for Information Professionals: Perspectives from Award Winners

Helen Edwards, Editor, K&IM Refer

Conversations with Sue Lacey Bryant, Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare  (Walford Awards 2018) and Virginia Power, Lecturer/ Researcher in Information Science and Management, University of the West of England  (K&IM and UKeIG Information  Manager of the Year 2018).

Many would argue it is both an exciting and a challenging time for information professionals. For our award winners, however, the positives strongly outweigh the negatives.  Sue first realised the critical importance of information when she was 14 years old and went with her father to a consultation about a new bus timetable in the Medway town where she lived.  It was then that she realised that these changes to the bus service inevitably benefitted some users more than others and that information was critical both for making the decision and for evaluating its impact.  This fundamental understanding “that information is a key factor, not universally available or comprehensible” became the underlying basis for a career in public service.

The prize winners base their optimism for the future of information professionals on three factors:

  • The core skills: sharing and communicating information and collaborating with others have never been more in demand. Sue points out that promoting health information and knowledge management have long been appreciated as important in public health. Today’s focus on evidence-based practice and the need for innovation, all delivered by effective multidisciplinary teams, has made these skills business-critical for the health service. The ability to make different partnerships with information providers, collaborate across functions and disciplines, articulate information and translate it into the ‘language’ of different audiences are also fundamental capabilities of information professionals. With the emphasis on continuous learning, health librarians are perceived as a trusted and independent resource whom people at all levels feel comfortable asking for help. Further, the library provides a safe space in which to reflect, think and collaborate.  Virginia emphasises three core capabilities from her career across further and higher education: communicating, demonstrating impact and dissemination. Information professionals are in the “convincing game” and the human element has not lost any of its importance.
  • The rapid pace of change provides many opportunities for re-imagining job roles. Virginia turned to advantage the lack of money for library services in further education. This provided the freedom to innovate in a way not always possible in better funded environments.  She emphasizes the need for information professionals to exhibit flexibility, serendipity and an entrepreneurial spirit, “the need to be chameleons in an ever changing information and knowledge environment as we adapt to new opportunities.” Back in the1980s Sue seized the opportunity to set up a telephone helpline with £5,000 as a side project.  She comments that this involved having to do things she didn’t know how to do.  Her advice in these circumstances is to find someone who does know, and there is always someone, and then listen carefully and follow exactly what they say.  It is surprising how resistant many people are to this.  Both award winners also had the experience of being the first person to do a new job which didn’t previously exist. Frequently these pioneering roles later turned into established jobs and even expanded into new departments.
  • ·There are new opportunities opening up in related fields.  Both award winners highlight Big Data and the value information professionals can add in providing context and telling the story behind data. Knowledge and information management skills and the ability to see patterns are crucial to making data intelligent and useful, and to improving implementation. Issues around governance, compliance, privacy, ethics and information quality and veracity (and the growing problem of fake news) are particularly well understood by information professionals, enabling them to take their place beside other experts.  Understanding of user requirements also provides opportunities in UX design and digital learning.  Courses at the University of the West of England where Virginia teaches explicitly focus on preparing students for the new workplace.  Recent graduates from information focused courses have gone straight into jobs such as Data Analysts and Intranet Designers. The students are being prepared to operate on the edge of what is going on and to be ready for important future roles such as Citizen Data Scientist. Managing the Topol Review  has led Sue to highlight the importance for information professionals to optimise the benefits of emerging technologies. https://www.cilip.org.uk/page/benefitsofemerging

Both Sue and Virginia emphasized the importance of ongoing professional development to prepare to take advantage of the new opportunities. HEE/CILIP’s Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health (PKSB)  and Digital Literacy Capability Framework 2018. both offer practical frameworks to organise personal professional development and provide structure to the wealth of webinars, online courses, publications and toolkits now available at little or no cost.  In her recent article for JINFO My Favourite Tipples (8 November 2018) Virginia especially recommends the Educause fact sheets “7 Things you should know about. Written on topics from Drones to GDPR, these factsheets are simple, easily digestible and highly informative leaflets that capture the essence of new technologies and their development”.  For information professionals now turning their attention to knowledge management, she highlights  “KMWorld: an amazing cornucopia of current insights, news stories and research into the world of Knowledge Management (KM), providing an awareness service of corporate KM developments and  RealKM a similar service with many thought-provoking articles and, of particular interest real evidence-based practice”. RealKM Magazine was voted the winning resource for the  K&IM Knowledge and Information Award 2018.

It can also be useful to analyse job requirements to see which skills are becoming important and identify gaps for development.  Virginia describes how useful networking groups have been throughout her career, as she moved to different jobs and got to grips with new technologies. Sue points out that many information professionals may not be aware of just how transferable their skills are.  Throughout her own career, Sue reflects on her experience and the new skills gained, ranging from dealing with senior people as a new professional to learning to write a marketing plan.  At strategic points in her career she also took formal courses, including a part-time research Master’s focusing on the information needs and behaviours of GPs, and qualifying as an executive coach, to further increase her opportunities. She also benefited from a two-year leadership development programme. This commitment to continuing development also enabled her to transfer across sectors within the information profession, which can often in practice be more difficult, but more rewarding, than more linear careers.  Both Virginia and Sue are early role models for the kind of portfolio careers opening up to the information professional of the future.


K&IM Refer 35 (1), Winter 2019

K&IM Knowledge and Information Award

The other four awards presented in 2018 were all as a result of a call for nominations from members and then the deliberations of a judging panel – a different panel for each award but still just a small group.   The K&IM Committee decided that we should have a fifth award to be given to a resource (blog, book, website, training programme etc.) that assists new or existing members of the K&IM community and contributes to the development of the profession.  But instead of a judging panel, it should be voted on by all our members. So a call for nominations went out and this resulted in six resources being put forward including a book, a training centre, a website, an online journal and a blog.  In September, details of these were sent round for members to vote on.  The winning resource was RealKM Magazine–  https://realkm.com

RealKM Magazinewas established in 2015 to provide up-to-date research-based information to assist managers in their day-to-day work.     As a comparatively new field, the evidence for what KM techniques work effectively is constantly evolving; and KM practitioners, often working in isolation, can find it difficult to keep up with the findings of new research in KM and related disciplines – communications, marketing and general management. This site is a cornucopia of highly relevant and very readable articles. A recent glance came up with new items on knowledge hoarding, ISO 9001, strategic thinking and one entitled ‘Best Practises Aren’t’.

To assist you in finding your through to what you want, there is a section entitled Special Series where articles and other posts are grouped together under such headings as cultural awareness in KM, agile decision making, and stakeholder and community engagement.   The coverage of the KM world is seemingly endless.

The site is free (although they welcome more Patrons) and there is also an e-newsletter and posts on social media.   You only have to read their strapline – Evidence Based, Practical Results to realise this site is a go-to place in the KM world.

Bruce Boyes, the editor of RealKM Magazine, is based in China and so was not able to be present at CILIP on 12thDecember 2018.  Fortunately Dr Beatrice Murray, Information Management Consultant and one of RealKM Magazine’smost active subscribers came along to accept the award from Paul Corney, a K&IM Group Ambassador.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019.

Practical Knowledge and Information Management

Katharine Schopflin

(Katharine Schopflin and Matt Walsh at the launch party for Practical Knowledge and Information Management, January 2019.)

Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) has provided material for many books in the last 20 years. Titles abound on intellectual capital, communities of practice and other means by which organisations can better find, share and utilise their corporate information and expertise. Yet as a practitioner, I often struggled to connect what they said to the reality of my day-to-day job. I can remember reading about information management strategy while trying to write one. I couldn’t disagree with anything I read in the book. Of course information should be treated as an asset, be accurate, up-to-date and offer a single version of the truth. But I couldn’t see how to translate it into something meaningful for my colleagues, or the actions they would actually undertake.

This is one of the reasons why we – me, my fellow-author Matt Walsh and Facet Publishing – thought it was time for a new approach. We wanted to make our book Practical Knowledge and Information Management(Schopflin and Walsh, 2019) reflect the daily life of the KIM practitioner, and offer advice drawn from our own experience and the professionals we interviewed. We learned a lot in the course of researching and writing the book, not just from reflecting on our experiences, but also from finding out what others had done. Some of my negative feelings engendered from participating in failed KIM implementations were countered by heartening stories from fellow-professionals making positive changes in their organisations. Below are four things the two of us took away which reflect this book’s approach.

Find the KIM that’s there already

One of the worst mistakes an organisation can make is to announce that KIM is a new thing that will change the way staff work. Having been the newest recruit tasked with selling this story, I can tell you it did not inspire delight, particularly in long-term employees who had their own strategies for getting things done. The first thing you should do when you arrive in a new environment is look for the communities that already exist and find out how they work to share and find information. My favourite ever example of this is outlined in The Social Life of Information(Seely-Brown and Duguid, 2000), where photocopier engineers, working on their own, meet up for beers and chat about how they’ve solved problems servicing machines. Most of us get by in our jobs, for better or worse, through a mixture of learning, asking others, saving information and looking things up. The role of the KIM practitioner is to facilitate this. Is there technology that can help? Are there people or information sources they should know about? What would make it easier to avoid asking the same question twice? If you can make one set of colleagues’ working lives better, they will provide an exemplar for the rest of the organisation.

Engage with the organisation

Matt spoke about this at this book’s launch, remembering how, early in his career, he would think he understood an organisation’s problem and blunder blithely in to fix it. Listening, and adapting what you know to match what you hear, are essential to prove the value of KIM. Most people want to do their jobs more efficiently: if you can show you understand and demonstrate how to solve their problems, they become invested in the process. Be open and honest about what KIM is and what it can do. Remove the mystery and show it’s all about them. Engagement is also about gaining feedback and celebrating successes. For KIM practitioners who are employees, rather than consultants, it’s not a one-off process, but a constant cycle of mutual involvement.

Know your challenges

Real-life organisations are sometimes very different from how they appear in KIM books. Very often, blockers to sharing knowledge are hard-wired. As a KIM practitioner, you need to accept what you can change and work with what you have. Hierarchical organisations, particularly those with high-paid experts at one end, and contact-centre workers on the front line, offer huge challenges of trust and exchange. Any organisation offering competitive incentives based on an individual’s knowledge effectively eliminates any motivation for them to share. Conversely, healthy organisations, where knowledge-sharing works well, struggle to see the point in keeping a corporate record. They may only realise what has been lost when the organisation grows and/or key people leave. You can’t change these cultures overnight, so start by focusing on what your organisation is good at. And look out for the diversity of cultures! Hidden groups, particularly in service areas such as facilities management or human resources, may have their own ways of working and be more receptive to help and advice.

Think big but be agile

KIM strategy can be a hard sell and, while consultants have tried in the past to devise strategies to demonstrate return on investment, too often KIM jobs, functions and initiatives are abandoned when they fail to show positive change quickly enough. In the past, it was common for a new knowledge or information manager (or consultant) to write a strategy with outcomes expected two or three years down the line. A better approach is to work with agreed core principles and develop a flexible strategy over time. Matt advises breaking down strategy into distinct phases, each an enabler for the next. This will help your stakeholders to see the journey from where you are now to where you could be in the future. Each phase should be measurable and have clear deliverables, in line with your corporate strategy. But build flexibility into later stages. Do not attempt to move from nothing to a utopian KIM dream. Your organisation will change and so will your strategy. The only things that will say the same are the underpinning core principles.

These are just a few of the insights we gained from looking at how KIM practitioners do their jobs, what has worked for them and what hasn’t. We don’t pretend to cover every scenario you will encounter, but all our examples aim to be honest, reflective and, above all, practical.

Schopflin, K. and Walsh, M. (2019). Practical Knowledge and Information Management. London. Facet Publishing

Seely Brown, J. and Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information. Boston, MA. Harvard Business School Press


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

Jobs of the Future: AI and K&IM Professionals

Helen Edwards, Editor, K&IM Refer

 How will artificial intelligence (AI) affect jobs in the future?  Two new books from Harvard Business Review Press offer frameworks for looking at how humans and “intelligent” machines can help each other and the impact this will have on job roles.


In Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson, technology leaders at Accenture identify what they call the “missing middle”.

Based on their research and experience with 1500 organisations, they describe six new ways people and machines collaborate with each other:  humans train machines to perform tasks, they explain machine outcomes, and they sustain the machines in a responsible manner. Machines amplify human insight and intuition by leveraging data and analytics, they interact with humans at scale using novel interfaces, and they embody physical attributes that essentially extend a person’s capabilities”.  These emerging jobs are more human than technical and turn out to involve many of the skills long held by knowledge and information professionals and are based on concepts central to the profession.

Three roles humans play in developing and deploying AI

Trainers:   Whereas in the past people had to adapt to how computers work, now the reverse is happening.  AI needs to learn to adapt to us, develop responses and understanding of language. This involves understanding what people are looking for in all sorts of contexts and modelling interactions. Trainers also need to correct for noise and hidden biases that can easily creep into systems.   Example tasks include: “clean data for upload, discover relevant data and data streams, have machine observe decision making, tag data for better use, work with HR to inform the design of workplace retraining initiatives.”

Explainers need to bridge the gap between technologists and business leaders.”  This involves interpreting machine outputs, adding “explainability” to interfaces and explaining the working of machines to stakeholders.  As systems become increasingly sophisticated, it is critical that their decisions can be explained and justified in terms that are accessible to customers and managers alike.

Sustainers play a critical role in “setting limits or overriding decisions based on legal or ethical compliance.”  Information professionals have long been involved in ethical and compliance issues and are well placed to represent the wellbeing of society and  “fulfil values such as increasing diversity and a commitment towards improving the environment.”

Three ways AI unleashes new levels of productivity

The authors describe three ways AI can give people superpowers by augmenting their skills:

Amplification:  “AI agents give people extraordinary data-driven insights, often using real-time data. It’s like your brain but better.” AI is being used to enhance the effectiveness of work and improve decision making processes. The authors describe three examples of how this works: matching(match resources, automate low level tasks); recommending(rank or design alternatives, prioritize resources, automate process change); patterning (identify trends in real-time, personalise offerings, identify anomalies, categorise and route data, augment strategic decisions).

Interaction:  AI tools employ advanced interfaces such as voice-driven natural language processing to facilitate interactions between people at scale.   Activities involve automating Q&A, allowing human workers to focus on high value interactions. The authors comment “once tedious, repetitive tasks are gone, management and leadership can reimagine workers’ processes around unusual, interesting, more nuanced customer services situations.”

Embodiment:   AI in combination with sensors that allow robots to share workspace with humans on the factory floor and engage with humans in physically collaborative work. The authors describe the new breed of “cobots” that make it safe for people and robots to work side by side.  Although these developments may have a less immediate impact on our spaces than those affecting the work of the mind, in the longer term, there may be exciting opportunities to develop shared knowledge spaces, especially as showcases of what is becoming possible.

Ravin Jesuthasan, a managing director at Willis Towers Watson, and John W. Boudreau, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations, also address the issue of the optimal combination of human and automated work in their book Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work.  Their research shows that the question is not which jobs can be automated but instead which tasks are suitable for automation, and of those, which make strategic sense to automate.

The Four Steps 

  • Deconstruct jobs into component work tasks. Tasks can be categorised across six dimensions: repetitive / variable; independent / interactive; physical / mental, each with their own characteristics with regard to automation. The authors note that while some tasks (repetitive, independent) are generally known to be more compatible with automation, advances in AI and sensors are continually changing the boundaries.
  • Assess the relationship between job performance and strategic value. This involves asking “what payoff work automation can produce.” To illustrate this, the authors analyse the role of a research director in the pharmaceutical industry:  “one work element is research, where performance can range from moderate (being aware of leading research) to great (being a big thinker who publishes breakthrough research). Another work element is team leadership, where performance can range from moderate (providing input to the team) to great (creating collaborations that transforms breakthrough ideas into unique drug formulations). Depending on the strategic priorities, the return on improved performance, for example of an automated research alert, varies.  If it is critical not to miss an important publication, such automation creates the optimal payoff.  However, if the goal is to create unique breakthroughs, it may be more valuable to use an advanced AI “that can observe and interact with the research scientists, learning the patterns that lead to unique breakthroughs.”
  • Identify options for recombining tasks in the light of new technology or process. Only when tasks have been described and payoffs assessed should automation options be evaluated.  The authors use these three categories:
    • Robotic process automaton: for high volume, low complexity repetitive tasks.
    • Cognitive automation: applying intelligence like pattern recognition and language understanding, extracting meaning from Big Data.
    • Social robotics: interacting and collaborating by combining sensors, AI and mechanical mobile robots.  By matching specific tasks to the automation potential, it is possible to explore where automation can replace, augment or create new work.
    • Optimize work by putting it all together to reinvent jobs. The authors show how these ideas are being implemented in a range of sectors including banking, cancer treatment, the airline industry.  A particularly relevant example comes from the retail fashion industry: “human stylists do tasks where their performance can add value, like curation, improvising and relating to others. Cognitive technology takes on takes on tasks that humans do less well, such as gathering and analysing data and producing decision guidelines. More important, the results of the cognitive automation make the value of every stylist’s performance incrementally better, because they can use the decision rules and results of cognitive automation as their starting point.”  

Jesuthasan and Boudreau conclude that new, reinvented  work options fundamentally change the leadership profiles, strategy and culture of organisations.  They comment, in language especially pertinent to the information sector: “Norms such as “customers come to us because only we have the information they need” must change to “customers arrive with more information than we have, and come to us for a trusted and collaborative relationship.”

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI

Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson

Harvard Business Review Press, 2018

Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work

Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau

Harvard Business Review Press, 2018


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

Knowledge Brokers: Human Agency and Knowledge Sharing

Vipin Chauhan[1]and Gillian Ragsdell[2]


In the Autumn 2018 edition of K & IM Refer, there was a discussion and an analysis[3]about the development of a holistic approach to knowledge management in a not-for-profit partnership project, Charnwood Connect. The article described how both technical and social aspects were integrated into the project’s knowledge management strategy, enabling partner organisations to work together, learn from each other and collectively improve local advice, information and support services. In this follow-up article, we offer a more theoretical reflection on the role of knowledge brokers and knowledge brokering processes based on the experiences of the first author as Charnwood Connect’s Knowledge Management Officer. Definitions vary but for the purposes of this article, knowledge brokers fall into two distinct but complementary practitioner categories. The first category refers to knowledge practitioners who have an explicit or niche responsibility for knowledge brokering and sharing such as Charnwood Connect’s Knowledge Management Officer. The second category refers to practitioners such as line managers who have a more implicit or an incidental responsibility for knowledge brokering.

Organisational knowledge management strategies comprise a series of sequential processes, amongst which knowledge sharing is one (Figure 1). One of Charnwood Connect’s primary objectives was to strengthen knowledge sharing by partner organisations in order to improve local services. The deployment of a niche Knowledge Management Officer, the development of the Knowledge Hub, the establishment of a face-to-face practitioners’ forum as well as other joint initiatives were all part of Charnwood Connect’s strategy to increase the frequency and depth of knowledge sharing amongst practitioners. As knowledge sharing and joined up working were so fundamental to Charnwood Connect’s mission, this article focuses on these aspects, especially the contribution of knowledge brokers and knowledge brokering processes.

Figure 1: The Knowledge Management Cycle (Evans, Dalkir and Bidian, 2014)

 Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is fundamental to human evolution and the transmission of ideas, innovations, values, beliefs and cultural practices. The advent of information technology, the knowledge economy, more knowledge-intensive work and the proliferation of social media have intertwined lifestyles and communities globally. In organisations, knowledge sharing is vital as “….the process of spreading knowledge is believed to stimulate innovation” (Ward, House and Hamer, 2009, p. 269). Without effective knowledge sharing the knowledge management chain of “….knowledge acquisition, storage, dissemination, and application” (Teng and Song, 2011, pp. 104-105) is weakened.

The process of knowledge sharing assumes that there is willingness amongst two or more individuals or organisations to exchange knowledge, with one wanting the knowledge possessed by the other. This presumptive and implicit social contract to share knowledge between two or more stakeholders underpins the success of knowledge management processes in organisations. Thus, knowledge sharing is a mutual process involving human interaction, negotiation and reciprocity and through “….an act of reconstruction” (Hendriks, 1999, p. 92), knowledge is transformed and “common knowledge” (Dixon, 2000, p. 13) is co-created.

 Issues and challenges

As discussed above, knowledge sharing involves human interaction, social relationships, personalities and politics, and is not just about knowledge access and exchanges through impersonalised exchanges or technological mediums. Just to track back momentarily, the origins of knowledge management are rooted in the efforts of practitioners who were tackling knowledge management challenges before academics and researchers took interest (Wiig 1997; Dalkir, 2005; Serenko et al,2010). Indeed, “….many of the initial academic papers were case studies and re-conceptualisations of what had already occurred in practice” (Serenko et al, 2010, p. 16). The practice roots of knowledge management are important to acknowledge as they serve to validate practitioners’ experiences of knowledge sharing and reinstate their stake in knowledge sharing processes. Perhaps a fuller acknowledgement of this can even entice practitioners to reclaim knowledge management as a form of professional practice, not just a subject for study by external researchers.

Dislocating knowledge sharing from its practical application can contribute to “know-do” gaps (Greenhalgh and Wieringa, 2011, p. 503), for it is practice that gives a real world meaning to practitioners’ actions and behaviours (Cox, 2012) and forms the “materiality of social relations” (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2002, p. 421) in work organisations. Workplaces and professional networks are manifestations of social relationships (Wenger, 1998; Cox, 2012; Schatzki, 2012); and when organisations develop knowledge sharing strategies, it is vital to appreciate the power and potential of human agency. Human agency in the form of niche knowledge brokers and other practitioners with incidental responsibilities for knowledge sharing can transform knowledge management principles into practice and help build an organisation’s capacity to do more.

Knowledge brokers

Knowledge brokers are defined in different ways and can include individuals, organisations and even whole countries. The focus of this article is on human agency in knowledge brokering processes and the role of knowledge brokers such as Charnwood Connect’s Knowledge Management Officer. Knowledge brokers can be described as practitioners who are catalysts for reducing the “knowledge distance” (Markus, 2001, p. 88) between knowledge producers and (re)users, and enhancing knowledge sharing experiences. As practitioners, knowledge brokers have the capacity to link or bridge “knowledge-islands” and nurture dialogues between “….two or more employees and make transfer of knowledge possible” (Aalbers, Dolfsma and Koppius, 2004, p. 10). In the process of bridging knowledge producers with (re)users, we can generate new or reconstituted knowledge described as “brokered knowledge” (Meyer, 2010, p. 118). Brokered knowledge is co-created and reconstituted through human dialogues and knowledge sharing exchanges that use both social and technological tools. Through practice interventions as link agents, knowledge managers and capacity builders (Long, Cunningham and Braithwaite, 2013), knowledge brokers are able to contribute to the viability and effectiveness of networks, communicative interactions and knowledge sharing processes. Below is an illustration of how knowledge brokering as a practice intervention was realised in Charnwood Connect:


As a Knowledge Management Officer for Charnwood Connect, my primary responsibilities were to develop and maintain an IT Knowledge Hub and a face-to-face practitioners’ forum as well as contribute to other project objectives. My role involved:

·      Brokering inter-agency and inter-professional relationships

·      Developing and facilitating online and face-to-face knowledge sharing platforms

·      Nurturing a sense of common purpose and collective identity through collaborative work

·      Co-creating artefacts such as an IT Knowledge Hub

·      Developing shared practices such as a common referral system for clients.


Insights and possibilities

What we are able to report from this research which should be of interest to knowledge management practitioners is, that knowledge brokering can nurture knowledge sharing not just through technological solutions but also social processes and collaborative working. Such an orientation involves improving and increasing opportunities for face-to-face knowledge sharing, and making a more assertive business case for strengthening inter-professional relationships, co-creativity and collaborative enterprises. Niche knowledge brokers can be appointed to facilitate knowledge brokering experiences and help strengthen the capacity of other personnel such as line managers, supervisors and HR officers who have a latent responsibility for facilitating knowledge sharing. Niche knowledge brokers can work as co-practitioners with incidental knowledge brokers to create opportunities for knowledge sharing, make practice interventions and co-create, resulting in  a net increase in the intellectual and social capital in organisations. Research (Ragsdell, 2009; Akhavan and Zahedi, 2014) has shown already that effective knowledge sharing is possible through events, senior managerial support, corporate strategies, staff development and nurturing knowledge sharing communities, yet we seem to have tilted the balance in favour of seeking more and more impersonalised managerial and technological solutions.

A further consideration that should be of interest to knowledge management academics, strategists and practitioners is the impact of social and organisational values on knowledge sharing behaviours, especially in organisations that provide person-centred services. Practice interventions and knowledge sharing encounters start from declared, implicit or subliminal social value positions and involve the “….unfolding and articulation of personal agendas, relations, influence strategies and knowledge transfer and diffusion over time” (Haas, 2015, p. 1040). It is through everyday professional practices, across-the-desk conversations, informal workplace encounters and after-work interactions that individual and collective values and beliefs manifest themselves, are endorsed or questioned. Human agency, values and beliefs are inseparable from knowledge sharing behaviours and preferences and knowledge brokering strategies have to take account of these, even where more impersonalised technological knowledge management solutions are deployed.

The research findings suggest that the fusion of three intertwined components are key to developing an effective knowledge brokering strategy in an organisation: people (knowledge brokers), processes (systems and structures) and philosophy (values, principles and power) (Figure 2). In this analysis, knowledge brokering extends beyond the impersonal mobilisation of knowledge, and instead involves facilitating in- and out-group relationships, in-person and virtual knowledge sharing dialogues and joint actions. The approach requires a more explicit acknowledgement of the power of human agency, the capability of individuals and groups to act in their social environments, and the knowledge broker as one in a constellation of knowledge practitioners and co-creators (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2002).

 Figure 2: Knowledge brokering: An integrated approach


It is not always easy to actualise knowledge sharing in organisations, despite good intentions and policy declarations. Human agency in the persona of knowledge brokers who are integrated into routine work practices can act as complementary levers for knowledge sharing, collaborative working and joint action. Effective knowledge brokers and knowledge brokering processes can have a compound effect on realising knowledge sharing, build organisational capacity and improve services and, at the same time, validate and improve professional practices, status and standards.


Aalbers, H.L. & Dolfsma, W., 2015. Bridging firm-internal boundaries for innovation: directed communication orientation and brokering roles. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 36, pp.97–115.

Akhavan, P. & Zahedi, M., 2014. Critical success factors in knowledge management among project-based organisations: a multi-case analysis. IUP Journal of Knowledge Management, 12(1), pp.20–38.

Argyris, C. and Schön, D. A., 1996. Organisational learning II: theory, method, and practice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Inc.

Chauhan, V., 2018. Knowledge brokering: an insider action research study in the not-for-profit sector. PhD thesis. Loughborough: School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/35556

Cox, A.M., 2012. An exploration of the practice approach and its place in information science. Journal of Information Science, 38(2), pp.176–188.

Dalkir, K., 2005. Knowledge management in theory and practice.London: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Dixon, N.M., 2000. Common knowledge: how companies thrive by sharing what they know.

Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Evans, M., Dalkir, K. & Bidian, C., 2014. A holistic view of the knowledge life cycle: the knowledge management cycle (KMC) model. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 12(2), pp.148–160.

Gherardi, S. & Nicolini, D., 2002. Learning in a constellation of interconnected practices: canon or dissonance? Journal of Management Studies, 39(4), pp.419–436.

Greenhalgh, T. & Wieringa, S., 2011. Is it time to drop the “knowledge translation” metaphor? a critical literature review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 104(12), pp.501–9.

Haas, A., 2015. Crowding at the frontier: boundary spanners, gatekeepers and knowledge brokers. Journal of Knowledge Management, 19(5), pp.1029–1047.

Hendriks, P.H.J., 1999. Why share knowledge ? The influence of ICT on the motivation for knowledge sharing. Knowledge and Process Management, 6(2), pp.91–100.

Hoult, M., Ragsdell, G., Davey, P. & Snape, P. (2018) Charnwood Connect: a holistic knowledge management strategy for the voluntary sector. K&iM Refer, 34(2), pp.19-22.

Long, J.C., Cunningham, F.C. & Braithwaite, J., 2013. Bridges, brokers and boundary spanners in collaborative networks: a systematic review. BMC health services research, 13(158), pp.1–13.

Markus, L.M., 2001. Toward a theory of knowledge reuse: types of knowledge reuse situations and factors in reuse success. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18 (1), pp.57-93.

Meyer, M., 2010. The rise of the knowledge broker. Science Communication, 32(1), pp.118–127.

Ragsdell, G., 2009. Inhibitors and enhancers to knowledge sharing: lessons from the voluntary sector. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice,10 (1), 1-10.

Schatzki, T.R., 2012. A primer on practices: theory and research. In Higgs, J., Barnett, R., Billett, S., Hutchings, M. & Trede, F., eds. Practice-based education: Perspectives and strategies. Rotterdam: SensePublishers. pp.13–26.

Serenko, A., Bontis, N., Booker, L., Sadeddin, K. & Hardle, T., 2010. A scientometric analysis of knowledge management and intellectual capital academic literature (1994‐2008). Journal of Knowledge Management, 14 (1), pp.3–23.

Teng, J.T.C. & Song, S., 2011. An exploratory examination of knowledge-sharing behaviours: solicited and voluntary. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(1), pp.104–117.

Ward, V., House, A. & Hamer, S., 2009. Knowledge brokering: the missing link in the evidence to action chain? Evidence and Policy, 5(3), pp.267–279.

Wenger, E., 1998. Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wiig, K.M., 1997. Knowledge management: where did it come from and where will it go? Expert Systems with Applications, 13(1), pp.1–14.

[1]Previously employed as a Knowledge Management Officer at Charnwood Connect, the basis of his doctoral research on knowledge brokering funded by the School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, lotusconsultancyuk@gmail.com.

[2]School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University G.Ragsdell@lboro.ac.uk.

[3]Hoult, M., Ragsdell, G., Davey, P. & Snape, P. (2018) Charnwood Connect: A holistic knowledge management strategy for the voluntary sector. k&im REFER, 34(2), pp.19-22.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

Designing Better Information Environments: Review of the 2018 Taxonomy Boot Camp London

Galen Jones, The Open University


The 3rd Taxonomy Boot Camp London was held on the 15-16 October and proved to be an invaluable opportunity for networking with people with very mixed specialisms. System vendors, content providers, consultants and practitioners – from varied sectors, including health, education and agriculture were in attendance. The two days featured more conversation than you usually see at conferences and this helped surface new ideas for future work and collaboration. The theme for this year’s boot camp was Making taxonomies go further – and for me this was truly delivered with an agenda packed full of empowering, thought provoking and informative sessions.

In his opening keynote speech Paul Rissen, Product Manager – Springer Nature, UK demonstrated that whilst the web removes barriers to communication, conversations often degenerate into opposing sides and that this can open the doors to malicious exploitation intended to distract, discourage, drown – to overwhelm a population with different narratives and generate apathy.

Paul explained that the notion of questioning everything and trusting no-one results in the positive force of curiosity becoming endangered, and warned that new strategies to combat this are required. Fact checking does not always work for audiences who feel inundated with information, so there is a very real challenge to update the methods and models on how we manage our information environments. To this end, he set out 13 rules for designing better information environments. These ranged from tolerance, to identifying different forms of falsehood (categorized as disinformation, misinformation and mal-information), and valuing and reflecting diversity. I found this presentation both useful and hugely encouraging.

As part of my job, I am currently investigating the options for implementing SharePoint Online (SPOL) managed metadata to support enterprise search and information retrieval. For this reason, an appraisal of this functionality and outline of the options and design configurations by Agnes Molnar, CEO – Search Explained, was especially useful. For anyone working in large knowledge based organisations, and particularly for newer members of staff, it is easy to relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed by the masses of content; not knowing what is stored where and how to access it.

Enterprise Search tools are only part of the solution to this issue. In SPOL hierarchical, managed metadata term sets, site collections and columns with defined properties are integral to delivering the kind of search and retrieval we desire. It was also interesting to note the option for hybrid taxonomies for combined on-premises and cloud customers which can be a necessity for large and complex organisations. Randy Perkins-Smart, Director – Qaixen, UK reminded us how creating taxonomies and manually applying metadata to content can be a costly and time intensive process, often with imperfect results. There are significant gains to be achieved through automation. Randy described that the use of PowerShell scripts to assign tags for example, can also be flawed, so the use of specialist software is often required. Many providers were at the event and helped make it so successful.

It was fascinating to hear the work Ben Miller, Senior Platform Capability Manager – Wiley, UK is leading to challenge the company’s existing business models by harnessing the power of knowledge models and linked data. With over a billion triples in the knowledge store, Ben has been developing prototypes that utilize this store to demonstrate a range of new use cases.  These emerging services are very different to the licensing of content that we are familiar with from Wiley and I feel have the potential to offer significant benefit to the research community. The ability to locate people working in specific areas of specialist activity, to build knowledge about funding organisations, to identify people who may be able to co-author publications or conduct peer reviews were some of the potential uses demonstrated in beta systems. These novel opportunities to disseminate knowledge through innovative new service platforms are the product of linked data, and I feel confident this area will see dramatic growth.

On the second day we were all in high spirits – although I imagine some were nursing a fuzzy head following the drinks reception and ISKO chill out event at the neighboring pub the previous night! Fortunately, delegates were gently eased into the second day’s proceedings which began with a book giveaway raffle, with some great titles up for grabs including the excellent Digital Literacy Unpacked by my colleagues Katherine Reedy and Jo Parker from The Open University.

Soon enough, the second keynote speech was underway. Tom Reamy, Chief Knowledge Architect – KAPS Group, USA and author of ‘Deep text’ covered the benefits of taxonomies and various techniques using numbers, stories, and text analytics to help advocate and enhance our work. Whilst there may be an increasing understanding of what taxonomies are, there are real concerns about the quality, application, and maintenance of too many taxonomies. So, as a profession we still have an important role to play to educate and address these failures.

With so many different kinds of taxonomies, internal advocacy is a key activity which needs to be tailored to different audiences within our organisations. Numerical studies that demonstrate the benefits returned on investment in taxonomies are a good place to start. Tom outlined the financial cost of 1) time used doing ineffective searching, 2) unnecessary recreation of documents and 3) the consequences of bad decisions and poor quality work (based on not finding relevant resources), which has been calculated to being in the region of $22.5 million per year per 1000 employees in recent IDC studies.

Belief factor is difficult to achieve in numbers. As Tom explained, for the human brain, positive events persuade better than negative, statistical losses. Stories are one of the best methods to get our messages across and are heavily used in my organisation’s planning activities. Case studies demonstrating the role of taxonomies in achieving business objectives; increasing richness in discovery; delivering better, more complex search, enabling more granular reporting, developing a common knowledge across company even where different languages are used are some of the possible scenarios outlined in the presentation.

Social media has become a key communication channel – useful case studies could look at how taxonomies can be used to understand what customers are saying; gauge levels of satisfaction, monitor the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and manage brand perception. This presentation really drove home the theme of making taxonomies go further -with other potential benefits from the application of taxonomies ranging from enhancing customer support to fraud reduction; achieving competitive advantage to reputation management. We were, however, reminded of the challenge to demonstrate that benefits are derived from both the application and the taxonomies.

The major flaw though is the gap between taxonomies and content. Amongst the obstacles Tom discussed were the cost of tagging documents with taxonomy nodes and the differing level of human understanding of subjects and/or business processes, variations in categorisation skills, etc. Text analytics was presented as the solution. Combining text mining, entity extraction, sentiment analysis and summarisation to perform auto categorization do seem to offer a comprehensive and workable solution.

Theresa Regli, Director – Vox Veritas Digital Ltd, UK gave a presentation that drew inspiration from the annual migration of the Monarch Butterfly from Canada to Mexico. She used this epic migration to highlight themes of regeneration and rejuvenation during the journey which served as a powerful analogy for those of us who are involved in migrating metadata, content and other assets. Next up was an image of emigrants departing on a ship (the painting ‘Parting cheer’ by Henry Nelson O’Neil) which was used to further exemplify the theme of migration and its correlation to our work – the need to leave things behind; the difficulties encountered during the journey and how we adapt to these challenges.

Theresa reminded us that whatever it is we are migrating, we should always be thinking about how it will be rendered and used once it has arrived at its destination. Her own relocation from the US to the UK and how Amazon’s Alexa content and metadata failed to recognize her new geographic context following migration served to demonstrate that technology doesn’t solve this problem.

Our second migration story from nature featured the Arctic tern’s annual voyage from the Arctic to Antarctic. A team somehow managed to attach to the birds and then retrieve a year later a small geolocator in order to learn more about their incredible voyage. The major discovery was that the birds do not travel directly to their destination, they stop and enrich part way through their journey.

As a result of the research into the bird’s migration, parts of the ocean were identified for conservation measures. Theresa compared this with the need for metadata stewardship:  determining a metadata strategy, understanding the destination storage structure, mapping old structures to new, planning for and communicating about system transition, validation and quality assurance.

And so, as our assets are moving between systems, Theresa suggests we too need to consider how we track and enrich them during transit. Moving everything isn’t wise; her advice is to clean out the R.O.T. –(redundant, outdated or trivial content) before moving between systems; run the two systems in parallel if feasible; conduct thorough testing; and drive adoption by making sure people know how to search and use the new system. Migration doesn’t happen quickly: mapping metadata and system consolidation are rarely straightforward in my experience.

This has been a brief outline of just a few of the many excellent presentations that featured over the two days. The event was largely informal in nature, thanks to the expertly tailored programme and mix of professionals attending. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves, in deep, enthusiastic conversations. My thanks go to organisers of TBCL2018. Having been designed to satisfy an unmet need for professionals in this field, the learning opportunities and focus on what the people in our community are working on, our challenges and opportunities ensured this goal was delivered.


K&IM Refer 35(1), Winter 2019

K & IM Refer Autumn 2018

Journal of the Knowledge and Information Management Group (CILIP) 34 (2), Autumn 2018

 What Knowledge Managers Actually Do: A Day in the Life of Oliver Rolfe

Oliver Rolfe, Head of Knowledge for KPMG in the UK

 M&Ms: Mails and Meetings: My Day as an Information Management Officer

Ivan Donadello, Information Management Officer, European External Action Service, Bruxelles

Information Management: The State of the Art Review ofThe Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

Helen Edwards, Editor K&IM Refer

Why And How We Wrote the Knowledge Management Standard (BS ISO 30401)

Judy Payne, Hemdean Consulting, Nick Milton, Knoco Ltd.

Ron Young, Knowledge Associates

Understanding Metadata and Its Use Review of Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval by David Haynes

Dion Lindsay, Real Knowledge Management (DLC Ltd) 

Charnwood Connect: A Holistic Knowledge Management Strategy for the Voluntary Sector

Moya Hoult, Gillian Ragsdell, Peter Davey and Paul Snap

CILIP Conference 2018, Brighton

Lynsey Sampson, University of Strathclyde

RIVAL – Research Impact Value and LIS: Report from a Community Event held at Edinburgh Napier University, 11 July 2018

 Anne Fraser, Hon. Secretary Knowledge and Information Management SIG

Making Taxonomies Go Further at Taxonomy Boot Camp London

Kat Allen, Info-today

Tea Break: The World Tea Encyclopaedia by Will Battle

Ralph Adam

Diary Dates Autumn 2018

K & IM Refer: the journal of the Knowledge and Information Management Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), is published three times a year and distributed free to members of the Group.

Editor: Helen Edwards

Editorial team: Ruth Hayes

Cover Design: Denise Carter

Contact: Helen Edwards 07989 565739; hogedwards@gmail.com

Copyright © The contributors and the K & IM SIG 2017

Online edition https://referisg.wordpress.com


ISSN: 0144-2384

Information about K&IM Awards and Bursaries is available on our website at:


What Knowledge Managers Actually Do: A Day in the Life of Oliver Rolfe

Oliver Rolfe, Head of Knowledge for KPMG in the UK


Oliver Rolfe is the Head of Knowledge for KPMG in the UK. He has been with the firm for nearly 17 years in a number of roles in the knowledge, technology and information risk area. After heading up the firm’s Information Protection area for the past three years, he has returned to knowledge management in May this year to lead the team and programme for the UK firm.

06:40 : I live outside of London with my family in Marlow so it’s an early start to join the commuter traffic as I head to Canary Wharf in London. I say a quick hello and goodbye to my early bird son who like clockwork is reliably sat watching Match of the Day repeats on his tablet.

07:15 : On the train and time to read an email news digest that is available to us in KPMG that pulls out key stories relevant to our firm, our wider profession, and the general headlines of the day. It is a fantastic piece of curated knowledge content that cuts through vast amount of data from a number of sources. I will also try and catch-up on various podcasts – the Infinite Monkey Cage being my favourite at the moment!

08:15 : In the office and straight into a call with KPMG’s Australian member firm. We speak on the topic of people finding and the new tools and processes that we are both implementing. It is vital for us that we enable the ability for our colleagues to find expertise and resources around the firm quickly and easily, so that we can bring the best insights and the right people to our clients. This is not an easy task when KPMG has over 12,000 people in the UK, and over 150,000 people around the world!

09:00 : Some time to catch-up on emails and connect with people in the office. We have many great remote working tools and our people are encouraged to work intelligently, which may include home working or working from other KPMG offices. However these informal, passing conversations when in the office are very valuable, so I always make sure I make the most of them.

09:30 : A weekly team meeting with my senior managers in the knowledge team. A time for us to join up and discuss the bigger strategic matters our overall programme is working on, plus share and work through any tactical challenges we are facing in projects. There is normally one hot topic that dominates – this week it is looking at our latest quarterly metrics dashboard and interpreting what it means, and how we need to react to what we are seeing.

10:30 : Move straight on to the next meeting between myself, our Intranet lead, and the firm’s Head of Learning design. Our knowledge management team is organisationally placed within our Learning team. We consider that a large part of learning comes outside of formalised teaching and e-learning and is obtained through on-the-job learning. This is enabled by many knowledge management objectives, for example sharing internal and external insights, and connecting and collaborating with others. In this meeting we discuss the work we are doing to bring together learning and knowledge systems and repositories, so that an end user receives learning content, regardless of whether it is piece of e-learning, a user generated video, or some external content.

11:45 : I head back to my desk and gatecrash a meeting between our onshore collaboration team and our offshore collaboration team based out in India. In total we have about 70 people in our offshore operations helping to deliver intranet, collaboration and research to our colleagues in the UK firm and they are an integral and highly important part of our team. As I’m still relatively new to my role, I am trying to meet as many people as I can, so I appreciate the chance to say a quick hello and share what my current thinking is on the programme.

12:00 : Time to grab some lunch. At this point I like to take the chance to catch-up on both our internal news hosted on our Intranet, and also the external news where we have content subscriptions. Our team works with many different vendors to ensure that we offer to the firm the best sources of external content covering areas such as news, sector insights, economics, and company information. Too much to read and not enough time, and get easily distracted by a flurry of emails and questions from people as they pass by.

13:00 : A meeting with our collaboration lead and an external vendor to discuss the rollout of our new video platform. Recently launched, we are finding good success and high levels of engagement with video content. Certain types of content, such as messaging from our leadership, is just so much better created and consumed through video. We discuss plans on how to further expand this through user generated content.

14:00 : I deliberately set some free time aside to catch-up on deliverables I am working on. It’s that time of year where we are planning and budgeting, so a big effort is underway to meet deadlines. I enjoy piecing together what is a very large and complicated jigsaw where we have some large ambitious changes coming into the firm. I spend this time pulling together how we should approach our complex collaboration environment – both from a systems perspective and also on the plans we have to drive forward our communities programme.

15:30 : Time for a meeting now with our new Head of Pursuits. How we support every part of our business is at the forefront of our minds every day, and we see big opportunity for us to build out our competitive intelligence programme to support our market develop and sales. We discuss various ways and interaction points where we can come closer together and build this out.

16:30 : A quick run up the stairs to join the end of our induction day for new joiners. Every week leaders from around the organisation are invited to speak at these days to share their career stories and their perspectives. They are relaxed and good fun sessions that allow those presenting to help people get up to speed, and they are also a great for taking questions and starting to connect with the new and future leaders in the organisation.

17:00 : No more meetings for the rest of the day. I open up our social collaboration system and write a short weekly journal to share with my team – just a number of short bullet points on what I have been up to, key people I’ve spoken to, and things I have learnt. It is impossible to speak with such a large and geographically spread team as much as I would like, so this is a great way to engage with everyone who can comment back and spark ideas and connections. Tackle some more emails, move our planning documentation forward a little more, and by then hopefully the London tubes and trains should be a little quieter now. I leave the office, plug in my headphones and look forward to finishing off that podcast on my journey home.


K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn 2018

M&Ms:  Mails and Meetings: My Day as an Information Management Officer

Ivan Donadello, Information Management Officer, European External Action Service, Bruxelles

If I wanted to briefly describe my working days, I would say: e-mails, meeting, and more emails. With different level of priority, these are the main elements of my working day as an Information Management Officer in an international organisation. During my day at the office, I am mostly busy collaborating with people and planning ahead for the projects the team and I are involved.

Despite my best intentions of not starting my day by looking at email, I end up by opening my Outlook first thing every morning nonetheless. Some good time is then spent on dealing with requests or catching up on streams of work. Also, I read the updates from the other parts of the organisation and relevant internal news as a way to understand better where the direction of the organisation are the most relevant topics for the business. Being rather new to the organisation, I am on the steep learning focusing on “who does what and why” in order to understand more and more the functioning of the house. I try to be alert of the main events taking place and to read the press releases. Information management is one of the many support functions and it can be easy to lose track of what the core of the organisation is interested in.

Usually a meeting interrupts the morning catching up: being involved in several projects means more meetings to attend. Working together is always easier to be said than done: different parts with different priorities need to find a common ground and talking face-to-face is often the best way. Currently I am involved in a project to upgrade a network used by the institution to exchange documents and information and my team’s role is to provide requirements on management of information and collaborate with the technical IT services to define the business needs and find appropriate solutions.

During my professional experience I realised that knowing how to interact positively with IT teams is very important. When well managed, it can be a refreshing and profitable collaboration. From our side, it is important to learn the language in use as much as possible and to understand how project management is conceived. Establishing partnership and trust is crucial when launching a new platform for your customers or negotiating a fix in the chosen software. We all agree that Information Management is more than only using a specific tool, but often the software in use is the most visible element in the eye of our customers: making it work well is important!

Our sector meeting could also take place, which is the occasion when the archive, document management and information teams share updates and issues we are experiencing. It is a regular meeting which brings about synergies and cross-fertilization, but also contributes to the team spirit. Usually, some following up from these meetings will fill the time until the lunch break: updating the team’s space with new action points or sending more meeting requests to initiate or continue our projects. A quick run for coffee is always placed here and there throughout the morning. Sometimes, even coffee breaks can turn into informal meetings: but not often.

In the afternoon, if no other meeting is in the way, I usually spend my time writing documents which have been requested or submitting them for approval. Also, I also devote time to planning the next phases of a project to improve some aspects of our current information management system. Thinking carefully about the communication and change management aspects requires a strategic and creative approach, for which help from team members is incredibly useful. Bouncing ideas and brainstorming is often the way to find new solutions. Also, part of my role is to monitor the status of and report on the advancement of the projects to the management to allow them to have a clear picture.

When it is time to go home, I usually draw a list of things waiting to be done the following day and not to be forgotten. It is a way to save time the following day and to capture all that is still pending at the end of the day. Switching off the computer and locking drawers before running out of the building. In conclusion, most part of my time in the office is about people and communication with them.


K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn 2018 


Information Management: The State of the Art Review ofThe Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

Helen Edwards, Editor K&IM Refer


 The starting point for The Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Managementedited by James M. Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein is the impact of Google “the great disruptor” on the world where information professionals work.  Its conclusion, referenced in some way in each of the 38 chapters by experts from a range of sectors, is that the future and importance of information professionals lies in their ability to align with the goals of the missions of their organisations; to demonstrate this alignment in a way that is directly relevant to the organisation’s definition of success; and to set up processes to advocate effectively and capture the evidence proving their value.

The book is organised in three sections:

  • The economic and organisational context in which information professionals work and the skills needed to operate effectively within it.
  • The use of The Balanced Scorecardas a strategy performance management tool to offer framework for demonstrating contribution.
  • Future opportunities for information professionals in areas such as big data, competitive intelligence and talent acquisition.

Although a number of business tools are recommended in the book, it is The Balanced Scorecard, described by Robert S. Kapan and David P. Norton in a popular Harvard Business Review article that Matarazzo and Pearlstein find to be especially suitable to be adapted by information services  to “actas a guide to defining and quantifying the evidence that will enable the information professional to demonstrate how their services are helping the organisation to achieve success.”


The Balanced Scorecardconsists of four quadrants:

Customer Metrics

This determines what services to offer, by measuring what is important to the customer. Matarazzo and Pearlstein warn there is often the risk of a significant mismatch between the perceptions of the library and those of users. Research on special libraries shows that libraries often overvalue:

  • Conducting research on the user’s behalf
  • Managing the physical library and print collection
  • Evaluating and purchasing content sources

But undervalue:

  • Managing internal content
  • Researchers working on project teams
  • Integrating content into work processes

In order to avoid the danger of believing one’s own rhetoric with regards to being customer centric, the authors recommend systematic “identification of data/metrics/rubric around what customers want and need as well as what they value.”


 Internal Process Metrics

This quadrant explores and captures evidence on whether services are achieving their goals. Information professionals should ask: “Is the information service providing a sufficient level of service to meet customer demand (within known constraints)? Are the services being provided efficiently in terms of turnaround time and cost? Are the services effective in terms of quality of content and delivery methods? Are the resources available actually being used (what is the penetration rate)? Are there other areas of information management  such as KM, RM and Archives where IS involvement can improve information management in the organisation?”

 Learning and Growth Metrics

This quadrant looks at whether the IS staff are able to provide the quality and quantity of services required by the organisation?  The focus is on training and development of IS staff and how the skills and competencies acquired are “translated into roles that meet the needs identified in the Customer and Internal Process quadrants.”

Financial Metrics

The fourth quadrant is concerned with how the information service can illustrate, in quantifiable terms, its contribution to the organisation’s budgetary bottom line”. It requires an identification with the realities of the organisation’s finances and business models.

In the ambitious Leading and Managing Strategy in the 21stCentury, Mary Lee Kennedy and Rebecca Jones also advocate using a formal strategic approach from business literature to provide a leadership framework for the world of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and augmented reality.  They believe organisations are counting on the information management profession to assist them in working in this new environment“whether that means offering new analytical services, making sense of even more complex privacy and intellectual property laws, building research capacity, addressing content authenticity and reproducibility, preserving knowledge, helping to navigate an ever more sophisticated and opaque information environment, and many more possibilities.”

Facing future challenges from a different perspective, Tamika Barnes, Iyanna Sims and Christopher Moffat in their chapterReference Reimagined explore the generational characteristics and technological advances that call for new “postmodern” reference services that celebrate differences.  Using tools such as ethnography, they advocate “designing a service that will respond to any user rather than the user conforming to the designed service.”  In practical terms, this has often come to mean cutting back and consolidating reference services at reference desks in favour of “roving, embedding and community centred services” and looking to sectors such as retail, hospitality, computing and healthcare for inspiration to develop new models.

There are new constraints also for content acquisition.  The chapter Negotiate for Information Like it is Your Own Money – With Savvy and the Right Skills by Willem C. Noorlander includes an enlightening section on how the current market place differs from when he began his career in the 1980s. Changes in supplier ownership, consolidations and mergers and the trend for venture capital firms to acquire small and medium sized suppliers has resulted in “a harder and more structured approach to fee models and negotiations as well as a different mindset and concern about client loyalty.”  However, this more challenging supplier environment has led to evolving roles in information sourcing, information procurement and supplier management. These roles can have “a high level of value attached, often interactive with critical business objectives and leadership as well as having a financial impact for the organisation.”

Of especial interest to the Knowledge and Information Management Special Interest Group is Eva Semertzaki’s chapter Knowledge Management Skills Applicable to Information Management – Information Management Skills Applicable to Knowledge Management in an Organisation.   Semertzaki believes that while both skillsets have much in common and both are future oriented, information management focuses on “the acquisition, organisation, arrangement, storage, retrieval and use of information” while knowledge management practitioners “play a role as creators, owners, disseminators and users of knowledge.”  Knowledge managers are explicitly concerned with the processes for creating knowledge and “supporting the dialogue between people who possess knowledge…..the key difference between knowledge management and information management is the human factor which prevails in the first instance because humans are the generators of knowledge.”   The chapter reviews competency frameworks for both information and knowledge managers and concludes that those for IM are weighted towards the technical and analytical, whereas for KM lateral thinking, change management skills and having appropriate personality traits become more important. However, within information management there is already “a shift in focus from information to people as consumers of information.”  Many jobs, whether characterised as information management or knowledge management roles require “a mixture of technical, soft skills and local or business knowledge, —– that the professional completely understands the information needs of the organisation.”

Indeed, contemplating the many case studies and individual examples included in the book, it becomes apparent that in many cases, it is the personal qualities of an individual in a specific context and the relationships they are able to make that leads to success, rather than any specific skillset or framework.  In Marketing Your Expertise, Anne E. Rogers and Kaia L. Densch describe how they were able to thrive in a time of transition at the Cargill InfoCenter. Although threatened with both disbandment and even oblivion, their success in engaging “strong support from our stakeholders and constructive analyses of needed work”, in part by effective benchmarking of similar organisations, led to their survival intact and with their value enhanced.  Their tagline “a small footprint but a big impact”helped their services to move from being the best to the “worst kept secret in the company” as their visibility increased and they were able to extend their services into new areas.

Because the success of projects is so often down to the  individuals involved, changes in the environment often result in once successful initiatives and practices running their course.  In Models of Service in an Age of Acceleration,Claire B. Gunnells and Susan E. Green review a number of library collaborations, not all of which achieved the hoped for monetary and service advantages.  The original leaders move on, new leaders do not share the commitment and can be“hard pressed to find success stories of why and how the project was created in the first place”, and relationships at a more junior level can fail to develop.  Nevertheless, information professionals need to be out there “breaking the rules, shattering myths and forging new alliances with colleagues and customers alike.”  This book is a serious contribution to helping information professionals do just that.

Emerald Handbook of Modern Information Management

James M. Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein

Emerald Publishing, 2017


K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn, 2018

Why And How We Wrote the Knowledge Management Standard (BS ISO 30401)

Judy Payne (Hemdean Consulting),  Nick Milton (Knoco Ltd.)

Ron Young ( Knowledge Associates)

 Judy, Nick and Ron are members of the ISO working group that developedISO30401Knowledge management systems – Requirements and members of the UK mirror committee BSI KMS/1. This article contains their personal experiences and views.

‘Knowledge’ and ‘management’ are familiar, everyday words. But does everyone attach the same meanings to them? And is there a common understanding of knowledge management? Each of us has worked in KM since the 1990s and we can say with confidence that the answer to both questions is ‘no’. When somebody approaches us to talk about knowledge and KM, it often becomes immediately apparent that we have totally different views of the topic. There is no common understanding of what KM means, let alone a standard approach to delivering KM.

Various standards organisations (including BSI and Standards Australia) have already published guides to KM, but ISO was silent on the subject until January 2014, when we became aware of a proposal for a new ISO standard on KM. The proposer was SII, the national standards body in Israel, where a national KM standard had been published in 2011. The proposal was for a management systems standard (MSS) of the ‘requirements’ variety: a standard to which organisations can become certified, although this is voluntary. ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management) is the best known requirements-based MSS.

The KM community’s reactions to the proposal were mixed. Some KM practitioners and academics rejected the proposal because they disagreed with the content of the Israeli standard on which it was based, in spite of assurances that the content would change significantly once it entered the ISO development process. Some thought it was a good idea. Some rejected the proposal on principle, on the basis that KM can’t be standardised. Although we agree that every organisation is different and that KM recipes don’t work, this proposal wasn’t for a KM recipe. It wasn’t even for a list of the main ingredients of KM: it was a proposal for setting out the principles of a kitchen in which KM recipes could be created and tested.

We recognised the proposed standard as an opportunity to create a common language for global conversations about KM that just might help organisations manage knowledge more effectively. It was also an opportunity to help people avoid falling into the KM traps of the past, for example the trap where KM is a rebadging of content management, or where people think KM can be delivered through technology alone.

When the proposal was approved, ISO wanted an existing technical committee to take on the work of developing the standard. Technical Committee number 260 (TC 260), Human resource management, agreed to adopt the standard and created a working group to draft it. In the UK, BSI resurrected the KMS/1 committee responsible for their 2001 KM guides and we each accepted the invitation to join. Not wishing to do things by halves (and without fully understanding what we were letting ourselves in for) the three of us also agreed to join the ISO working group.

How ISO works

ISO has 161 members, each a national standards body with its own policies and practices. That’s almost as many as the United Nations. Over its 72 year life so far, ISO has developed and established formal processes for developing standards in multi-stakeholder groups. It’s easy to criticise ISO processes for being bureaucratic, outdated and lacking in transparency (and we did!) but we had to play by the ISO rules. ISO processes are accepted by all 161 ISO member countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The diversity of values, philosophies and perspectives is mind-boggling.  Even seasoned, independent-minded KM specialists who know a bit about collaboration don’t mess with that!

The ISO watchword is consensus. Don’t be fooled. This doesn’t mean representatives of up to 161 countries agree on everything. Developing a standard involves listening, appreciating others’ perspectives, and compromising. If a member of the group feels that the ability to comprise is being stretched too far, the words ‘I can’t live with that’ are enough to force a rethink. The result is a standard that all members of the working group can support.

Learning to swim at the deep end    

The first face-to-face meeting of the working group was in November 2015, in parallel with meetings of TC 260 and its other working groups. It’s fair to say we got off to a shaky start. The proposal had been prepared independently of the parent committee, which didn’t yet understand KM. Most of our working group members were new to ISO processes, and relationships were yet to develop. Our convenor was disciplined, focused, and keen to move straight to the work of developing the content: an approach we came to appreciate later in the process, but in the early stages we needed to move more slowly.

During three days of solid meetings, it became clear that the standard had to be written to a standard template used for all management systems standards. The template contains text and definitions that cannot be changed, only added to. It also became clear that we could use devices such as ‘notes to entry’ to make the template text KM-specific, and that we could use the introduction and annexes to top and tail the standard without working to a template.

Over the next 30 months we worked together face-to-face, virtually, as a whole group and in sub-groups. Working relationships and friendships developed. We learned that different countries have very different approaches to KM. We learned the magic ISO words ‘shall’ (to indicate a requirement) and ‘should’ (to indicate a recommendation). We learned that some English words are impossible to translate into other languages.

Membership of the working group, as well as being voluntary and unpaid, is best described as dynamic. During the development process, over 40 KM experts from fourteen countries were involved – plus delegates from the parent committee, members of other working groups and representatives of national standards bodies. The UK mirror committee met frequently, as did other national groups. Every word and every concept in the standard was subjected to repeated scrutiny. We tested whether the wording was based on proven experience, would work for KM in every industry from call-centres to engineers or to aid workers, and would work for all sizes of organisation from the garage-based start-up to the multinational.

Public comments

In late 2017, a draft international standard (DIS) was approved by the participating TC 260 countries and published for comment. Each ISO member country has its own process for inviting comments. In the UK, BSI published the DIS on its website and anyone could comment. As a result, BSI received many hundreds of comments, often from people in countries without such an open system.

Most of the comments were positive and constructive. Some were repeated. Some pulled the standard in opposite directions. Many commenters didn’t appreciate the existence of the MSS template (why should they?) and rewrote chunks of the inviolable template text. A few criticised ISO processes and called for more recent specific KM developments to be included, but this is not how ISO standards work. ISO standards are necessarily generic, otherwise standards would be out of date, would stifle innovation, or both.

Every single comment was discussed by the UK mirror committee, which produced a consolidated set of recommended changes for consideration by the ISO working group. These and other comments – whittled down now to just over 400 – were discussed at a final three-day meeting of the working group in May 2018. Many changes to wording and emphasis were agreed, but nothing substantive enough to force a second round of public comments or voting according to our ISO “referee”.

 The future

ISO Management Systems Standard 30401: Knowledge Management is due to be published in late 2018. Our work is over, for now. The standard will be reviewed and updated in five years’ time, once we have some experience of its use and application.  Future versions of the standard will include recent KM developments – and might well be developed using updated processes.

We can only speculate about how the standard will be used. Certification is an option – but we don’t think this will be widespread. It is much more likely that organisations will use the standard as a guide to getting started in KM, while those with established KM programmes will use it to audit against internally.

We hope that publication of the standard will lead to conversations that improve awareness, understanding and practice of KM. We hope it will provide a common language, and a way for organisations to avoid the pitfalls of the past when implementing KM. To us, the standard is a first step towards a better future for KM – and for Knowledge Managers – the world over.


K & IM Refer 34(2), Autumn 2018