Knowledge Services: Building the Knowledge Services Center

Written By: Guy St. Clair of SMR International


Our purpose in these posts is to share thoughts about knowledge services, about what it is and what knowledge services does. In an earlier post I mentioned that we would focus on how knowledge services supports you as a knowledge professional as you and Soutron Global work together to transform the operational function for which you are responsible. Whether it is a specialized library or some other research- or knowledge-related operation, the goal of your transformation effort is the same – to create your organization’s knowledge services center.


The “Tone”

We start by giving attention to what I like to think of as the “tone” of knowledge services, that frame of reference each of us has in place for moving into knowledge services. For one thing, we’re not going to embrace knowledge services because we need to do it. Of course there are times when it’s necessary to do things differently, even to embrace a new and different way of working because there are difficult situations, problems that seem to have become unmanageable. In this case I am thinking of something a little more idealistic, a little beyond the “easy solutions” point of view.

What we’re doing here is thinking about how the management of the organization’s intellectual capital can be restructured. And that term – perhaps a tad off-putting – is easily defined, and in defining it, the term fits our context. Intellectual capital represents what we refer to as the organization’s knowledge domain, the overarching elements that make up the organization’s collective information, knowledge, and strategic learning management efforts. And how they – as critical elements in the organization’s management toolbox – enable organizational success. As we move toward knowledge services and think about how these elements can be restructured, we do so because we simply want to identify the best way to achieve the highest (e.g., the most successful) level of management for them within the organization’s structure.


“Leadership Tip of the Day”

One approach to thinking in ideal terms comes from my good friend and mentor Frances Hesselbein, who daily shares an online message she calls her “Leadership Tip of the Day.” In my opinion, there’s no one who knows more about leadership development than Frances (she is the President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum and the Editor-in-Chief of Leader to Leader, the award-winning journal published by the forum). Each day, Frances provides us with useful commentary, advice we knowledge strategists find ourselves thinking of as “rules-to-live-by.”

A recent leadership tip quotes Andrew Fenniman and Chris Robinson, authors of “Leaders: Stop Problem-Solving and Start Talking” in the March 2013 issue of Leader to Leader. It’s a quotation that provides a valuable perspective for thinking about bringing knowledge services into the workplace:

In order for effective conversations to take place, a mind-set shift is required from a predominantly past-looking, problem-solving attitude (Why did this happen? How did we get here? What went wrong? Who’s to blame?) to a future-looking state of mind (What do we want to do instead?)

That, to me, is what sets us up for success as knowledge strategists, the organization’s knowledge leaders. When we start talking about and thinking about knowledge services, what we’re doing is moving to a future-looking state of mind. We are seeking ideas, structure, and a framework for how information, knowledge, and strategic learning can be managed better. When we get there, we will be on the road to our own professional success as we contribute to enterprise-wide success.

“Guy St. Clair is President, Consulting Specialist for Knowledge Strategy, and Knowledge Services Evangelist for SMR International. In his professional work, Guy is recognized as an expert adviser in knowledge services and in building the organizational knowledge culture, with a special emphasis on knowledge strategy development.”

Guy was awarded SLA’s top honor, the John Cotton Dana award, at the 2019 SLA Annual Conference. Learn more about Guy St. Clair’s accolades and his life time of achievements here.