Managing Knowledge, first steps

I haven’t had the inclination or opportunity to write any new posts recently. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’m happy that I have been busy with work and other projects, and just plain old life in between.

I realise that I haven’t blogged here since I started my new role as Knowledge Management Intern at Trócaire, so I’ll just have a ponder on my journey up to now and how my weeks are taking shape.

I work in the ICT unit, which has been a bit weird, as I think a lot of people expect me to know something about computers…! All jokes aside though, the implementation of Knowledge Management in an organisation is often led by IT and it’s not the worst place to position it. The systems and tools used for Knowledge Management are mainly supported by IT, so it’s just the tricky business of designing and implementing a strategy that needs more cross-divisional support.

I essentially have two main pieces of work to do within my role description. The first is to develop and apply an organisational taxonomy for Trócaire’s digital content. This is part of a bigger project to introduce a new intranet for the organisation which will be accessible by staff in Ireland, but also by staff in international country offices, something which has been lacking up to now. Introducing a taxonomy to the information shared via this intranet will hopefully improve the organisation and findability of all sorts of content. This will ultimately result in more productive ways of working and better retention and re-use of knowledge.

The second area that I am working on is drawing up a Knowledge Management strategy. This of course involves far more than just writing up a nice aspirational document. Although KM has never been explicitly included in the organisation, elements do exist. Therefore becoming familiar with existing habits and approaches to information storage, sharing and retrieval has been really important. Carrying out research into staff information needs is informing both the taxonomy and how better KM can be introduced and supported. At this stage I’m doing quite a bit of research – maybe a bit too much – into KM competencies; how they can be measured; and KM strategies that have been successfully implemented in similar situations. This ‘desk’ research, combined with a better understanding of Trócaire’s work and structure, is building towards carrying out more in depth interviews. I feel that in order to plan a KM strategy that will work and last into the future, it is important to ascertain how the organisation values knowledge, how it understands KM, and where this fits with the overall vision. How exactly I am going to draw this out with the best use of research questions is my current challenge.

These are the main peices of work that I would like to see completed or at least starting to be integrated by the end of my contract. However, I think I am quite typical of librarians everywhere, particularly recent graduates, who want to prove they can do a little of everything. Therefore I am happy that I also have the opportunity to take on other tasks that are associated with KM such as Internal Communications, meeting facilitation, and other activities common to all employees at Trócaire’s, for example getting involved in campaigns.

I feel really lucky that in my job I have a lot of autonomy over how I prioritise my days and it is my responsibility to keep on top of various tasks I undertake. I have found that this means I have to set my own goals each week so that I know I am getting somewhere – otherwise it can be easy to read too many journal articles or blogs and suddenly get off track. I’m also finding that it is important to take a step back and see where each week’s tasks fit into the bigger plan, making sure that it will all add up to something and can be built on by others if my contract isn’t extended behind eight months. This has its good and bad sides, but ultimately is the reality of a lot of contract positions these days.

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Posted in Employment, Knowledge Management

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