posted 28 Aug 2003 in Volume 7 Issue 1
Five minutes with... SCIE
Jacquie Bran, project manager with the Knowledge Management events team, speaks to Diane Gwynne-Smith. Gwynne-Smith has been involved with the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s KM programme and strategy from its inception. Here, she discusses the challenges she is facing in developing a strategic approach to KM.
When and why did you start addressing knowledge management within your organisation?
SCIE was only born 18 months ago, and KM was high on the agenda from the beginning. It was addressed as both an internal issue and as an external, outreach issue – making knowledge freely available and accessible to the social-care community at large, whether professionals and practitioners or service users. One of SCIE’s main remits is to facilitate information sharing.
Were you given a mandate for knowledge management or did the need for it develop organically?
I was given a mandate from the start – KM is integral to SCIE’s work.
How long did it take you to develop a strategy for knowledge management and who was involved?
It is an on going, evolving strategy that will never be completed. I have been working on it since I started with SCIE 12 months ago. For our internal KM we are using the development of an intranet as the pivot of our knowledge-sharing strategy, and the whole organisation is or will be involved. Externally, we are using the electronic Library for Social Care (eLSC) as the starting point.
We are also endeavouring to set up partnerships with other organisations to open up access to knowledge and information, for example the National Electronic Library for Health and other independent and voluntary-sector organisations. A lot of our work focuses on mapping what we know and who knows it. We started this process by running a workshop on KM in social care recently.
What is your timeline for implementing knowledge management and what do you anticipate the biggest challenges will be?
We don’t have any real timelines set in this area. Externally it will be an evolving process as the whole social-care sector is so fragmented and diverse. The challenges will be engaging such a fragmented sector, and partnering with relevant organisations and initiatives.
What are your specific challenges in relation to fragmentation and how will they be overcome?
Our challenges relate to breaking down the barriers to information sharing across health and social care, and across the different sectors within social care, both voluntary organisations and the private sector. In addition, the different professions within social care – academics, practitioners, carers and service users – all need to have access to, and involvement in, the same body of knowledge. It is a real challenge to make this knowledge easily available and meaningful to all.
Has knowledge management delivered any quick-win benefits for you so far?
I need to ask our target user groups and audiences really! I think SCIE is a bit young yet to have had a chance to make a difference, but we are confident that there is a lot of potential for us to evoke change in the long term.
Did you pilot knowledge management before taking it to the implementation stage?
We will pilot the intranet and the re-developed eLSC when we are ready, via user groups and reference groups. In addition we will also be setting up a Q&A group focusing specifically on content.
From where will this group be drawn?
The SCIE is putting together reference groups for all its major themes and areas of work; the re-development of eLSC is one of them. We are also putting together a quality-assurance advisory group on content development for eLSC. These groups will be set up by invitation and will be drawn from across the sector representing all potential eLSC user groups.
Do you anticipate any cultural difficulties?
The practicalities of getting partnerships established and operational may be difficult, again due to the diverse nature of the area. In addition, not all bodies are able to make knowledge and information as freely available as we are, due to revenue and competitive-edge reasons. This may be a sticking point.
What do you want knowledge management to enable within your organisation?
SCIE is a bit different, as the thrust of our KM goes beyond the organisation. Nevertheless, our objective is to mobilise knowledge to encourage better practice in social care.
Diane Gwynne-Smith is director of KM at the Social Care Institute for Excellence. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Gwynne-Smith will be presenting at Ark Group’s second annual ‘Knowledge Management for the Public Sector’ event, to be held in London from 22-24 September 2003. For more information or to register your attendance, visit www.kmpublicsector.com or call Jacquie Bran on +44 (0) 208 785 5908.