The Knowledge Services Mind-set

Written By: Guy St. Clair of SMR International


It seems that in many of the groups with which I come in contact, whenever the topic of knowledge services comes up, students, other teaching faculty, professional colleagues, and even some friends who like to talk about knowledge services seem inevitably to want to bring up the concept of the “knowledge services mind-set.” As in, “What’s the mind-set of a knowledge strategist?” Or, “Does knowledge services require a different mind-set for thinking about how you share knowledge?”


Knowledge Services Mind-Set

A quick look at the dictionary definition revealed that in most cases (and with the word often spelled without the hyphen), “mind-set” refers simply to a person’s attitudes or opinions but, I also found that those attitudes or opinions often “result from earlier experiences.”

With that caveat, it becomes easier for the knowledge strategist to respond to or participate in the discussions. If the knowledge strategist is defined as the knowledge services manager and leader within the organization (as is the case), they are certainly going to base their responsibility, their authority, and their accountability on what has gone before. And specifically on what they have learned and how that learning has positioned them for their management and leadership role. In other words, the knowledge strategist’s mind-set – their “way of thinking,” it might be called – is built on and is supported by the knowledge strategist’s collaborative instincts, the ability to know why information, knowledge, and strategic learning are to be shared, what is to be shared, and how it is to be shared.


Peter Drucker’s Influence

Several years ago, Bruce Rosenstein – probably the foremost authority on Peter Drucker and Drucker’s influence as “the father of modern management” – used the term to refer to how Drucker might have advised about the future of work (and particularly for the future of work for knowledge strategists):

Knowledge workers can benefit by building in a Drucker-like mind-set about the future, realizing that it must be created rather than left to chance or fate. We must figure out ways to differentiate ourselves from peers and those we serve, so our work around knowledge is not thought of as a commodity that can be purchased elsewhere, or obtained for free. We can start by realizing that we are creating the future for ourselves and our organizations in the present moment, by today’s thoughts, actions, decisions, and commitments. In addition, Drucker contended that change is normal, inevitable and not to be feared. He advocated making peace with uncertainty and becoming organized for change, particularly for what he called systematic or planned abandonment. If you were not already engaged in a particular activity, or offering a particular service or product, would you start now? And if not, what would be your next step in either eliminating or scaling it back?

Bruce Rosenstein – “Peter Drucker and the Future of Knowledge Workers” – SMR’s Knowledge Services Blog. November 12, 2013


Knowledge Strategist’s Mind-set

So I raise the question: Can we – as knowledge strategists – identify and be guided by a set of attributes that we can use and which support us? And do these attributes make up the knowledge strategist’s mind-set? I think so. We just need to keep three primary points of view at the front of our minds, agreeing that as knowledge strategists we develop and implement knowledge strategy, we re-conceptualize, transform, and support new ways of thinking about managing intellectual capital, and we lead enterprise-wide knowledge development, knowledge sharing, and knowledge utilization. If those are the ideas that drive us, we’ll have (and make use of) our knowledge services mind-set.

“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.