In the thick of it - why information professionals should be at the heart of government digital activity


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Presentation given at the CILIPS Conference 2014

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  • Titles shouldn’t limit us. I’ll probably mostly refer to ‘librarians’, but the arguments put forward equally apply to the KIM profession in government more generally.

    So that’s one definition…
  • It has elements of all of the above…

    It’s definitely about customer service (answering questions, handling enquiries, providing answers) but it’s also about internal comms (helping staff adopt new tools for themselves, encouraging professionals to share knowledge with their colleagues and stakeholders). It’s not just a ‘marketing’ thing, for sure: in digital engagement, organisations often have relatively little control over the channels and messages being communicated
  • >> mapping of relevant skills from the framework (at practitioner level - defined as being ‘responsible for day-to-day delivery of KIM tasks’) to the five main skills identified for delivering digital engagement in slide 11:

    devising strategies
    developing skills
    deploying tools
    facilitating discussion
    creating content
  • In the thick of it - why information professionals should be at the heart of government digital activity

    1. 1. In the thick of it why information professionals should be at the heart of government digital engagement activity #CILIPS14
    2. 2. Data inputterer at Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department Various posts in Department for Work and Pensions: front line service, IT support and management, information security, risk management PGDip Information and Library Studies MA(Hons) History and Economic History Various IT qualifications Website manager at UK Trade and Investment Knowledge Management Officer with the Scottish Centre for Regeneration Librarian in the Scottish Government Library Service
    3. 3. "We will appear in more places than we do now. […] librarians are cropping up everywhere, in weird and wonderful little corners, places….” We will be in places that don't initially always appear to be information management places.” (Cumming, 2004)
    4. 4. government KIM profession (and allied professions)
    5. 5. The Government KIM profession is comprised of qualified civil servants who enable the creation, organisation and exploitation of information and knowledge.
    6. 6. digital government
    7. 7. “Digital engagement uses digital tools and channels to find, listen to and mobilise a community around an issue, maybe getting them to talk about it, give you their views or take action in pursuit of a cause they care about.” (Gray, 2010)
    8. 8. digital engagement
    9. 9. digital engagement continuum Deeper engagement Disseminating information More than just publishing huge strategy documents on the departmental website (even if they are in an accessible format), it’s about using digital tools to communicate better, explaining policies and services in accessible and interesting ways. Listening More than simply monitoring, but making people aware of and picking up online conversations. More traditional forms of listening, through user research and feedback, intelligent use of analytics and comparative data, are still important. Gaining insight The best decisions are based on genuine, evidenced insight. Effective engagement depends on understanding what matters to people and how they think. Insight comes from listening, observation, data analysis and involvement in discussion. Responding Government needs to be responsive to those who contact it with feedback, comments and challenges. Responses will typically be more effective if they are delivered using the channel through which they originated. Clear, quick responses can help build trust. Discussing Two way or multi way conversation. Government may join in a pre-existing discussion, or initiate a discussion. Consulting Process by which Government obtains input on specific issues, which is analysed and used to inform policy. Used to collect qualitative and quantitative evidence to support better policy and service development. Collaborating The participation of multiple parties in generating ideas, creating solutions and making decisions. Government’s role is facilitation, not to control the process. Crucially, it means Government not always doing it – sometimes the partnerships and the communities government can support are better placed to meet the need efficiently and sustainably themselves.
    10. 10. Defining aims and objectives Understanding motivation Mapping influencers and online landscape Formulating requirements Project management Community management Developing a strategy Evaluating impact Establishing contacts and partnerships Briefing agencies Refining and optimising Blogger outreach/pitching a proposal Assessing alternative strategies Listening to online debate Generating and prioritising ideas Commenting and reviewing Collaborative writing and drafting Moderated discussion Deploying simple social tools Structuring and syndicating data Developing new software Mashing up data from different sources Managing servers, databases and domains Designing interfaces Training and coaching Presenting and demonstrating Exploring and suggesting tool options Creating films and audio Interviewing Finding and sharing information Informal writing Networking digital engagement tasks (COI, 2010)
    11. 11. digital engagement role skills profile (Gray, 2010 )
    12. 12. skills and attributes for digital engagement (COI, 2010) Tolerance Integrity Empathy Objectivity Creativity Good listener Attentive Observant Attention to detail Problem solving ability Patience Cross-cultural awareness Excellent researcher Communicator Fluency in written language Confidence in group and interpersonal communications Composed nature
    13. 13. who does digital engagement in government?
    14. 14. “many of these core digital engagement skills are routinely held by communications, operational and policy staff without prior digital media specialism. Although it is advisable to have team members with professional digital media experience, clearly digital engagement is not the preserve of specialists”. (COI, 2010) But roles like this aren’t really about the tools, they are about people. We need people in our team who can personally engage and influence (sometimes reluctant) policy colleagues on their own terms, and sell the practical benefits of digital engagement.” (Hale, 2011)
    15. 15. UK Government KIM framework (National Archives, 2009)
    16. 16. Main skill area Specific skills Digital engagement skills profile Strategic planning for knowledge and information management Has a clear understanding of the business requirements of the units they support, and can explain the rationale behind the policies, procedures and services in place Devising strategies Strategic planning for knowledge and information management Understands the internal and external drivers for engaging with the local user community in the development of services Devising strategies Demonstrating the value of knowledge and information management Is aware of quality measures and metrics in place to measure the performance, value and impact of their relevant KIM service and reports any feedback to management accordingly Devising strategies Professional development of the knowledge and information management community Shares learning with colleagues, formally and informally Developing skills Understanding information needs and behaviour Appreciates the different ways in which people interact with electronic environments Developing skills Education and training Engages with users to improve and develop access to information sources Developing skills Selection and procurement of knowledge and information management resources Develops effective day to day working relationships with external suppliers and account managers to ensure successful delivery of products and services to achieve outcomes Deploying tools mapping KIM framework to digital engagement tasks
    17. 17. Collection/repository management Understands the different approaches to managing and sharing information needed for physical and electronic systems Deploying tools Supporting collaboration and promotion of a knowledge sharing culture Understands the practical and cultural issues of networks and communities, knowledge sharing and re-use Facilitating discussion Supporting collaboration and promotion of a knowledge sharing culture Co-ordinates knowledge sharing opportunities and enables collaboration Facilitating discussion Facilitating knowledge transfer and organisational learning Understands the way in which knowledge is shared, transferred and re-used between individuals and groups across the organisation Facilitating discussion Search/information retrieval Understands the sources available to fulfil an information need and makes efforts to present the results in a form convenient to the user Creating content Content creation and maintenance Supports users in creating content that is suitable for the intended audience and communication channel Creating content Web/new media publishing Creates web pages/websites that conform to accessibility legislation and best practice in content, retrievability and navigation. Creating content mapping KIM framework to digital engagement tasks
    18. 18. Skills Communication Negotiating Influencing Understanding the business/industry Stakeholder management Customer focus Attributes Collaborative Innovate/imagination Vision Attention to detail Analytical Pragmatic/realist Versatile/agile mind/flexible/adaptablity Lateral thinking Critical thinking/questioning Well organised/methodical approach Logical Patience/perseverance Dedication Enthusiasm Initiative Resilience/resourceful Team player Ability to learn new concepts Work to deadlines Ability to relate theory to practice KIM skills and attributes (Abel at al, 2011)
    19. 19.
    20. 20. • Abell, Angela, Davies, John and Hordle, Julia. 2011. Connecting Information With Innovation. TFPL’s 2011 Survey of Skills and Roles. • Central Office of Information. 2010. **DRAFT** Core Applications and Skills for Digital Engagement. Digital Engagement Essentials Guide 3. • Central Office of Information. 2009. Engaging Through Social Media. Civil Service. 2011. Professional Skills for Government. Cummings, Maewyn. 2004. A vision of the future. State Librarian, Autumn Issue, 2004 • Gray, Steph. 2010. Some definitions. Helpful Technology Blog. [blog] Retrieved from: definitions/ [accessed 1 July 2013] • Hale, Stephen. 2011. Digital engagement manager. Health Conversations. [blog] Retrieved from: [accessed 1 July 2013] • National Archives. 2009. Government Knowledge and Information Management Professional Skills Framework References