The innovation agenda

Economic realities mean organisations must change and innovate. Knowledge and information professionals should align themselves with organisational innovation.

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You need to be different in terms of what gifts you are bringing to the table.  In very practical terms, that means training your searchlight onto the darker patches of the corporate information landscape (with better intelligence we would have won the project/stopped the inadequate purchasing decision/kept key professionals on the payroll).  Go and find actual examples in your organisation.

Everyone 'hates' IT

The second tactic involves breaking with the technology aspect of KIM. This is likely to get you onto the innovation agenda even more quickly.   Although this might seem paradoxical, it's a smart move.  Many senior decision makers still think that KIM is all about intranets and databases.  KIM professionals recognise that real solutions begin with people!

When have you walked into word and heard your colleagues say "Isn't my IT great!"?  Technology is expensive. It is expensive to buy, to install to maintain and most people hate it.  There is not a senior management team in the country that does not want to cut its IT costs or get more value from its ICT estate.  If you are selling KIM from the soapbox of a technology 'solution' then stop now.  You will get absolutely nowhere.  Worse still, you will push yourself further away from the place that you really need to be - which is embedded in the decision making fabric of your organisation.  You need to sell KIM as a holistic solution that may include a technology tool but, if the organisation is to hard-manage its information assets, then they need to get the fundamentals right before engaging technology and that is exactly your profile and part in the corporate innovation agenda.

Be distinctive and different!

In sum, if you are to be taken seriously - and you need to be because organisations are in critical need of effective KIM, then you need to focus on distinctiveness and differentiation to make yourself credible with senior decision makers.  Your distinctiveness comes from having KIM as a maturing and valuable function and not an adjunct or offshoot from say, technology.  Your differentiation comes from the fact you are bringing something to that table that other functions are not, and frankly, cannot.  Stick by these two maxims, formulate your propositions (the things that you can do and the results they will deliver) and you are well on your way to winning a few hearts, minds and a well-earned place on the corporate innovation agenda.  Ignore them at your peril!

Stephen Cahill is a senior decision maker who has spent over 25 years improving effectiveness in a wide range of organisations.  He believes that the time has come for the fundamental repositioning of the role of information professionals in organisations.

Image courtesy of Caveman Chuck Coker via Flickr.

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