by Jan Sykes, President, Information Management Services (Illinois Chapter, Knowledge Management and Leadership & Management Divisions)
We’ve seen earlier Future Ready posts recommending that information and knowledge professionals apply principles of design to our work. This idea was reinforced this week in a keynote presentation at the ILA (Illinois Library Association) conference by Duane Bray of the design firm IDEO. He noted that they often found that people in the trenches have some of the best insights into user behaviors, emerging trends and new ways of working. Are we, as information professionals, actively observing and engaging our colleagues in conversations that help us identify emerging practices and opportunities? Or, do we use our extremely busy schedules and full work load as justification to continue our “business as usual” mode? In order to develop new and creative, user-centered ways of making business information readily available to our clients, our antennae must be sensitive to changing signals in our environment.
Mr. Bray described several emerging behaviors they have identified in recent work in the education and healthcare sectors including: human multitasking, mediated conversations (engagement and reliance on input from our social network), melding of online and offline worlds, and leveraging of collective intelligence (ratings and commentary offered by others across a range of products and services, e.g., YELP reviews). Most of us would probably acknowledge seeing these same behaviors. The challenge is to transition our mindset and our service models to incorporate this reality. It is critical for us to do so to remain relevant and competitive. While we may feel we are caught up in whirlwinds of change, I like the concept of small-scale, rapid prototyping to test new services or products within our control and within our respective communities. In collaboration with diverse small groups of clients and colleagues, new tools, technologies, and resources can be quickly tested. Failure on a small scale is an inexpensive learning experience and helps us refocus our planning and energy in a direction that is likely to have a more positive outcome. Successful prototyping lays the groundwork (and business case) for an expanded implementation. More importantly, such work helps us move with added confidence into the future.
Jan Sykes has over 20 years experience in the information industry. Currently, she leads Information Management Services, Inc., an independent consultancy. Her work is focused on information and knowledge management projects, including needs assessments, content portfolio reviews, contract negotiations and strategic planning activities. Prior to beginning her own consulting firm, Jan was Senior Director of Client Services Consulting for Knight-Ridder Information, Inc.
Jan is active in SLA: she was president of the IL chapter in 2002 and chaired the Association Nominating Committee in 2005. She served on the Board of KM-Chicago and also on the Board of Trustees for the public library in her community.