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Change is the theme

Jul - 9 - 2006
Nicole C. Engard

WOW! Change is the major theme on the biblioblogosphere right now. Meredith has a great post about Knowledge Management at her institution.

T. Scott has a great comment on the post:

One of the things that I would encourage you to remember is that it doesn't take a LOT of the people in an organization to make change happen. The cultural shifts happen very subtly, when a small core of forward thinking people adopt new tools and processes and start to demonstrate successes with them.

This is how I get most of my work done. When I decided that I didn’t want to be the only one adding content to the Intranet anymore and when our staff decided they wanted improved communication in the library I went right to my deputy director. I told her what I wanted to do and she said okay. I did not consult with anyone else. I went about my job designing a communication and knowledge management hub for our library. While I was working on it I would drop hints about how things would work when it was done and the staff started talking. When I released it I made sure to offer a happy upbeat presentation – happiness is contagious. Seven months later I can say that at least 1/3 of our staff is using the Intranet on a regular basis. But Meredith is right:

Clearly, though, the solution to these problems is not so simple as creating an Intranet or a wiki or whatever. There has to be a real change in culture or people won't use the tools they are given. That's really where the managers have to come in. Management style is so crucial to KM. The way you manage people will make them more or less likely to share what they know.

I had management behind me with this project and it’s not up to management to make sure that people are documenting everything in a place where we can all get to it. While I see the whole job security side of not sharing – I don’t understand where that comes in in an organization where people have been there forever. It’s not like out administration is out there looking for someone better to replace people – they just want to know what you do on a daily basis in case you can’t get into work – or you have an accident and have to suddenly go on disability.

In 2002 I had to do just that. I had torn a ligament in my shoulder and had to have it repaired. I spent the whole 2 months or so before that documenting every thing I did on a daily basis – and when I came back 3 months later I still had a job – not only that but people were able to appreciate how much I did just a little bit more.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for Meredith – I don’t know how to make people see that knowledge management is necessary and that change is sometimes required to reach a desired goal. Meredith says:

Some people were just plain antagonistic to new technologies.

This is the most frustrating part of my job – having to fight with people to show them that a particular new technology is going to make their life easier – and I’m not talking only about new fangled things like blogs & wikis – like Meredith said people are against using a simple spreadsheet. The worst part is when you see this antagonistic attitude in someone who deals with the public – then you have even more hurdles to get across in order to make change a reality.

Anyway, while it’s sad that we’re all dealing with these frustrations at work – it’s a little bit comforting to know you’re not the only one out there. Make sure you read Meredith’s post and the comments – there is a great discussion going on over at Information Wants To Be Free.


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