Lessons learned from digitising a Knowledge Handbook and more

June’s issue of Business Information Review is now out.  We have a featured article available from Dominique Poole-Avery on the digitisation project of Arup’s Knowledge and Information Handbook that she led.  The article, which can be viewed for free here takes us on a journey through the design and process of taking a hardcopy Knowledge Handbook first designed in 2008 and widely used by the organisation and making it digital.   The handbook was originally designed as a “reference guide to the firm’s KM resources. Its primary goal was to provide practical guidance on the tools and resources we used at Arup to develop, find, and share our knowledge and information.”

The article is full of useful ideas and lessons learned focussing on a user first approach which enabled the team to develop the handbook into a tool could be viewed through different lenses depending on the perspective of the user.  

Also featured in our issue this month is the best paper prize winners for 2021 – Ann Cullen and Patrick S Noonan and their article Who owns and cares about the data? A method for identifying and gathering information for business research investigations.  We also an interesting piece reflecting on the importance and impact of language diversity in global organisations. The theme running through all of our articles in this issue relates to good and best practice that can be considered in other organisations and environments to facilitate knowledge and information management.

For an overview on June’s issue please see our editorial

“The only constant in life is change” Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475BC)

Author: Stephen Philips, BIR Board member

When asking colleagues “are you returning to the office”, it appears to be an emotive question, the responses to which run the gamut of emotions, all within a sentence or two. 

 As a society we adapted very quickly to the call to work remotely during the health crisis, indeed it was a welcomed shift.  Okay, it presented some challenges and minor inconveniences, but overall many felt it was no sacrifice to not be in the office.  As the health crisis continued, lockdowns came and went, some returned to offices whilst others continued to tough it out at home.  Latterly, some started to lament their absence from the workplace, welcoming the opportunity to get back, recognising some very definite benefits of rebuilding their social capital with their colleagues.

Reflecting on these reactions, it seems to me there are parallels with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ “The five stages of grief” (https://www.ekrfoundation.org/5-stages-of-grief/5-stages-grief/), which she subsequently adapted to the change curve.   Not everyone goes through all five stages, but there are indicators that many organisations and their employees are at different points along this curve:

  • The initial shock associated with the need to return to the office is quickly replaced by evidence of denial.  A colleague recently went to a colleague’s leaving drinks.  The venue was a crowded city bar, but he couldn’t find one colleague that had been working in the office that day.  Many citing the risk of COVID for not going in.
  • Frustration manifests itself in a number of ways, but some colleagues express theirs by citing “Why do I need to go the office?  I am just as productive at home”
  • Resignation has crept in with many admitting they will return to the office in some capacity at some point, it is just a question of time.
  • The experimental phase is where most currently find themselves, employers are setting expectations of their employees and providing guidance, with many offering hybrid working.  Colleagues are figuring out how a hybrid model might work best for them.  Whilst some employers are planning to reduce the salaries of those working remotely on a permanent basis, including Google and Stephenson Harwood.
  • The decision making stage has manifested itself in attrition, as people decide if they can work within the new paradigms or if they want to follow their own aspirations (Whitney Johnson, HBR: https://hbr.org/2022/04/the-great-resignation-is-a-misnomer).  Contrary to what you might believe, colleagues I have spoken to appear to have had little trouble in finding new talent.
  • Integration is the final stage of the curve; accepting change, adapting to the new normal and getting on with it. Whilst I would contend that some organisations are already there, having largely returned to their pre pandemic work rhythms, many have some way to go.

The humanist in me would like to believe that the future of work will be shaped around people, in order to drive the best outcomes both for the organisation and the individual.  I fear that will not be the case.  The current labour shortage makes it a job seekers market, the UK ONS estimates there are 1 million fewer workers in the economy than pre pandemic and over 1 million vacancies to be filled.  Organisations are increasing pay, perks and benefits to attract new talent and retain tenured staff by bringing them in line with market.

A global recession, caused by rising prices and interest rates, increased resource costs, volatile financial markets, the global upheaval caused by regional conflicts and increasingly strained supply chains may flip the jobs market on its head.  It will also erode the finances of those that decided to retire or “downsize” during the pandemic.  Work will once again become attractive, or a necessity and may signal the end of the hybrid working experiment.  With less pressure to accommodate their demands, employers will be emboldened to re-engage staff on their own terms.

With so much of this out of our individual control, I tend to look for inspiration or words of wisdom from others. On this occasion, I will leave the last word to Socrates (470-399BC): 

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”

Test post: are we all working digitally

The move to digital has been going on for some time.  Products and services are more freely available online and in digital formats than ever before but have our methods of working adapted and developed too?  There are certainly the tools available to enable a more digital and effective way of working but as we now know none were really utilised in anger until fairly recently as the pandemic forced our hand.

In his first article for BIR Lee Bryant, Principal of POST*SHIFT and Shift*Base, explores the world of digital working and how we have struggled to truly take onboard its benefits for a more effective way of working when it comes to the ‘office’ environment.  Even during lockdown when we have been forced to work remotely most people have taken the processes and practices from the office and continued them as best they can online.  Enter in the back-to-back Zoom meetings, hours spent online more than ever and still talk of feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.

Are we truly working digitally?

The move to digital has been going on for some time.  Products and services are more freely available online and in digital formats than ever before but have our methods of working adapted and developed too?  There are certainly the tools available to enable a more digital and effective way of working but as we now know none were really utilised in anger until fairly recently as the pandemic forced our hand.

In his first article for BIR Lee Bryant, Principal of POST*SHIFT and Shift*Base, explores the world of digital working and how we have struggled to truly take onboard its benefits for a more effective way of working when it comes to the ‘office’ environment.  Even during lockdown when we have been forced to work remotely most people have taken the processes and practices from the office and continued them as best they can online.  Enter in the back-to-back Zoom meetings, hours spent online more than ever and still talk of feelings of isolation and disconnectedness.

The truth of the matter is that it is not just a matter of using tools that have been available to us for a long time but a need for a shift in perspective and with that a change in leadership perspective to move us into a truly digital world.

In his article Lateral layers and loops: Why managers need to curate the fabric of the digital firm in a post-lockdown world Lee notes that manufacturing and engineering production lines moved processes to more efficient digital ways of working some time ago but that the office environment has not followed suit.

In reflecting on this I realised that though working remotely since 2014 it is only in the last 6-12 months, I could consider that I have really been working any differently to what I did when I was office based.  It took the pandemic, a lot of asynchronous working and working with a leadership team who were committed to developing the most effective and efficient ways to work, to enable me to understand and accept that meetings are not always the best way to get something done. (Not an easy thing to do when you have been used to working with consultancy teams who are used to jumping into a meeting room for an impromptu meeting/brainstorming discussion).  There is a sense of freedom and satisfaction of getting things done, utilising these tools as they were meant to be used and actually ending up with free time at the end of a day when you can close out and ‘go home’ that comes with this shift in perspective and way of working.

The road ahead will not be straight forward but the point to note is that we have jumped forward in realising what is possible and getting more to grips with digital working.  We now need to work on that next leap to truly work in a digital world and get the best from it.

Check out Lee’s article a compelling and thought provoking read – will you have a light bulb moment?

Lee Bryant is passionate about using social technology to put humans front and centre of the way we do things in the Twenty-First Century, and believes social networks, not bureaucracies, are the organising principle of the current era. He co-founded Headshift in 2002 to investigate new uses for social technology inside companies and organisations, which became a leading international social business consultancy and was acquired by a US firm in 2009. In 2013, he co-founded a new company, POST*SHIFT, dedicated to exploring the intersection between new social technologies and new thinking on organisational structure and culture.

June’s issue of BIR now available

In this issue we welcome back Stephen Philips with part 2 of the BIR annual survey results, and regular writers Sharon Richardson with another insightful Out of the Box article and a round up on interesting articles and themes in Hal Kirkwood’s Perspectives: Revisited.

Phillips ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’ – The 2020 Business Information Review Survey: Part II

To make the survey results more digestible this year we have split the results into three reports. Part 2 reports on our participants’ reflections on a range of topics that are shaping their operations including the operating environment, technology and content trends.

Richardson The new physicality of data

In this latest ‘Out of the Box’ article Richardson looks at some of the innovations made possible by the focus on digitisation of existing processes and interactions and the integration of this with real world interactions and bricks and mortar. She explores some of the implications of this new physicality of data from the birth of a digital twin to the death of privacy, and the growing urgency for new approaches to data governance and information lifecycle management.

Kirkwood Perspectives: Revisited

In this issue of Perspectives Kirkwood looks at different facets of business and professional communication education, research into market intelligence and market researchers’ usage of technology, design-thinking, and the development of entrepreneurship in small cities. He reflects on how aspects covered in the articles in these areas are like situations experienced by business libraries and their users. He also looks at articles that investigate different business and management factors to the responses to the recent COVID pandemic again reflecting on the similar scenarios librarians face and important lessons learned that can be transferred to a library/information team.

Talafidaryani Digital transformation: Towards new research themes and collaborations yet to be explored

This paper is a review of research collaborations in digital transformation which indicates that research has particularly focussed on the following three areas: Technological and Industrial View, Organisational and Managerial View, and Global and Social View and that institutions particularly in Northern Europe have had better performance in research collaborations in this area. It also notes that Technology, Sustainability, Big Data, Information and Communications Technology, Innovation, Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Business Model, Social Media, and Digitisation.

Ayinde Knowledge audit as an important tool in organisational management: A review of literature

This article is a good overview on the current literature and importance of knowledge audits. Covering audits, risk, national and international standards the paper seeks to answer the questions around what to consider when an organisations commence with a knowledge audit.

Luke Tredinnick and Claire Laybats

Exciting news! BIR Survey results presented at CILIP K&IM SIG Professionals week

BIR is delighted to announce that lead researcher and BIR board member, Stephen Phillips will be presenting some of the results of our annual survey at CILIP K&IM SIG professionals week taking place on 14th June.  This is the first time in its 30-year history that the results of the survey will have been presented outside of the published journal.

CILIP K&IM SIG professionals week entitled SHIFT: the future of knowledge and information management will be a virtual event running Monday 14th through to Thursday 17th June.  In addition to Stephen, other presenters include Natasha Howard, Paul Corney and Rory Huston.

As the focus of the event is on the future and changes to careers Stephen will be presenting on three key themes that were identified by our survey participants as areas of priority and focus for them in 2021.   These are:

Client engagement: We have seen from the results that client engagement was a significant challenge, but that this is not all bad news. Stephen notes that “the pandemic has also levelled the playing field when it comes to client engagement.  With everyone working from home, traditional hierarchies were eroded and IS teams found themselves with unprecedented access to stakeholders, although some found it harder to engage more junior colleagues.  For those organisations that continued to recruit through the crisis, reaching new colleagues to onboard and educate them about IS capabilities was especially challenging.”

Hybrid working: This looks to be a very popular theme for 2021 as we come out of pandemic restrictions but want to capitalise on the positives of working remotely whilst still maintaining good links with the office too.  Stephen says that “some IS teams have shifted their focus to support the hybrid working, capitalising on improved digital literacy of their users and stakeholders.”

Staying ahead of the research curve:  What will it take to keep pace with demand?  Our results highlighted 20% upward increase in demand for IS services during the pandemic.  Stephen notes that “there is widespread recognition that IS teams need to be more agile and nimble to prevent their contributions being rendered obsolete by the rapidly changing operating environment”.

Do book your place (open to CILIP members and non-members alike) and join us in what will be an interactive session – short presentation followed by the opportunity to reflect on and discuss with peers, these themes and ideas in breakout ‘café’ style sessions.

BIR Annual Survey 2021 is out now

We took a break from the BIR Survey last year due to a change in personnel managing the survey but have come back this year under renewed focussed to report on perhaps the most disruptive year in recent memory.  BIR is pleased to welcome on board Stephen Phillips who is heading up the survey now.  Stephen is an experienced leader of global teams with a successful background in enriching client relationships and engagement in financial services.

The survey this year, unsurprisingly, is heavily influenced by the pandemic.  Our global theme is one of changing work practices.  The amount and richness of the research this year was such that we have decided to split the results into 3 separate reports which will span over our March, June and September issues.  “Never let a good crisis go to waste” – The 2020 Business Information Review Survey: Part I, which is available online to read now, focusses on ‘The Organisation’ looking at structure, where information services sits and what the effects of remote working have been and Staffing – have teams in the last 12 months, downsized, increased or stayed the same.

Something that really stood out for me was the effects of remote working on teams and client engagement.  Overall, as a whole, the sector adapted fairly fluidly to working from home and work life continued on as people adapted to video conferencing through Zoom or MS Teams or similar.  Connections were still being made, video enabled us to still maintain a richer communication form than just voice alone but feedback from some was that it just wasn’t good enough particularly when it came to maintaining and developing those relationships where trust was a major factor.  There were those who looked to get back to the office as soon as it was possible/safe to do so to be able to maintain that valuable face to face interaction.

Why is this physical face to face interaction so important to us?  A look at why video conferencing can tire us out in and differences in this and ‘true’ face to face communication is explored in a BBC article entitled The reason Zoom calls drain your energy.  The article gives some insight into why, although we are face to face in this medium it is not the same as physically being face to face with someone.  Further in a recent article on Reuters, ‘Major employers scrap plans to cut back on offices’ it is noted that there is reduction of 52% of chief executives considering cutting back on office space from a survey conducted in August 2020 to one conducted recently.  Reflecting with colleagues on this recently I heard that many sales leaders were looking forward to ‘getting back out there’ to meet over coffee etc. with clients.  There is something special about face-to-face communication it seems that even a global pandemic cannot extinguish.

Coming up in part 2 in June we take a look at the operating environment, technology and content trends.

World Library and Information Conference review

Author: Hal Kirkwood, Bodleian Business Librarian, Said Business School, University of Oxford. President, Special Lib Assoc. 2019 and BIR Editorial Board member

In August I attended the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) in Athens, Greece.  It was my first ever attendance at this global meeting of librarians and information professionals with over 3000 attendees from 140 countries.  IFLA is a rather complicated organization of strategic programmes, sections, divisions, and special interest groups with the purpose of representing the interests of library and information science services and their users.  The development and support of libraries and librarians around the globe is a key focus of IFLA activities.

The Congress was an interesting and engaging event with its theme of Dialogue for Change resonating throughout the keynotes and sessions.  Starting out with the Newcomers Session I learned about the ins and outs of the Congress; the ability to sit in and observe any meetings; and the scope of all of the different entities within IFLA.  The sessions I attended consisted of a mix of business meetings and content-focused presentations.  Focus on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) filled the programme over the course of the weeklong event.  It was fascinating to see librarians from all over the world presenting on the many common challenges that libraries struggle with collection development, information literacy, technology impact, and costs while at the same time presenting on very unique situations due to geographic, cultural, or political factors. From protecting cultural heritage to providing offline access to the Internet to supporting disabled library visitors to dealing with the variety of global copyright regulations, the variation went on and on.

One of the most impressive events held during the Congress was the poster event with almost 200 posters presented covering such a wide array of topics and issues.  The scope and scale made this an information rich event to attend and showed off a tremendous level of experience and creativity. Browsing through the rows of posters and hearing each presenter explain their challenges and solutions put the diversity and depth of information professionals on full display.  Many of these librarians should consider taking their ideas a step further to write a full article on their experiences, struggles, and solutions.  The information profession will be the better for it if they were to share their accomplishments.

An amazing cultural event was held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center for all of the attendees.  The event included a variety of food and cultural entertainment all at an amazing center that houses the opera as well as a portion of the national library.  The building itself is a stunning architectural achievement with gorgeous views of the coastline along with extensive gardens to walk through that are integrated into the overall design of the building.  It was truly something to be experienced.

Two of the most notable actions to come out of the IFLA Congress is the Library Map of the World and the Ideas Store.  The Library Map of the World https://librarymap.ifla.org/ is a data-rich graphical view of libraries and library statistics around the world.  An additional layer includes specific stories on how libraries are connecting with the UN’s SDGs to meet local development needs.  It is a very interesting project that can only benefit by additional libraries and associations joining in to provide access to broader and deeper data.  The Ideas Store https://ideas.ifla.org/ is a growing collection of ideas about libraries and information literacy to inspire and instigate action.  The Store allows you to filter by Opportunities, Idea Groups, Countries, and Regions to explore the 1200 ideas currently available.

Attending IFLA was an eye-opening experience in seeing what so many information professionals and librarians are working towards in their own regions, countries, and libraries.  The expansion and increased access to information will inevitably create greater opportunities for multitudes of people around the globe.  If you have the chance consider attending an upcoming IFLA World Congress to see the true scope of libraries and librarians.

Paul Corney – a very worthy winner of the 2019 K&IM Walford Award

Author: Denise Carter, Decision Consult and BIR Editorial Board Member

In these strange and turbulent times, we definitely need to take the time to celebrate those people who are doing excellent work. As a member of the BIR editorial board it is with pleasure that I can write one of the BIR’s frequent contributers, Paul Corney, Knowledge et al, has been awarded the 2019 K&IM Walford Award.  The Award is presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of knowledge management and/or information management. Previous winners include David Gurteen and Sue Lacey-Bryant.  As a well-respected Knowledge Management (KM) expert and guru who has certinaly made an outstanding contribution to knowledge management services, Paul is a very worthy recipient of this year’s award. 

Paul is dedicated to improving professional recognition of KM. In particular he has been recognised for his selfless i support of CILIP in its aim of becoming the UK and International professional body for KM. He  has been committed and tireless in promoting CILIP’s initiatives not only in the UK but also abroad – particularly in the Far and Middle East where he is recognised as a KM leader and has a high profile. Paul has worked as CILIP K&IM Ambassador since end of 2017. He has worked incredibly hard with CILIP to realise the K&IM Chartership as a valid option for professional registration for information professionals. By using his network and connections he opened doors for CILIP to speak to the right people at the beginning of the process and understand that there was an appetite for a Chartered KM professional qualification.

As part of the KM Chartership project board he has been able to ensure that the new programme avoids the pitfalls of some other attempts by other organisations in this space. He has also continued to promote and discuss the KM Chartership within the KM community worldwide and engage other influential Knowledge Managers to become involved with CILIP in speaking at conferences, and potentially acting as mentors or assessors for the new KM Chartership programme. He is always willing himself to mentor and nurture others in their KM work.

Along with his recent articles for BIR, Paul has written several books on KM. The most recent are Navigating the Minefield and the KM Cookbook published by Facet. In Navigating the Minefield, Paul provides a range of realistic up-to-date examples both on how to start KM in an organisation and also how to sustain KM. The examples are drawn from 18 KM programmes  from diverse organisations from across the world and provide great stories to encourage KM in organisations and there are useful anecdotes that can be re-used to sell KM in organisations. The KM Cookbook is presented in an engaging way and includes big name KM case studies and references to the appropriate parts of the ISO/BSI KM standard. As a member of the BSI KM Committee, Paul has been able to draw on his internal knowledge of the standard and its process.

BIR call for editorial board members

BIR is seeking members to join its  Editorial Board, alongside the Co-Editors of the journal. Responsibilities of the Editorial Board include:

Encouraging submissions: Encouraging quality submissions to Business Information Review helps the journal to grow in quality and reputation. As the journal is substantially based on commissioned content, an active member of the board would proactively speak to colleagues within their networks and regions to commission quality content for the journal. Please consider submitting a paper yourself to the Journal and actively encourage those you work with to

Suggesting special issues, ‘hot topics’ and review articles: Hot topics and/or review/special issues can attract more readers and citations to the Journal. If you spot any trends or areas that might help raise the profile or benefit Business Information Review please let the editors know your suggestions or submit  your own for consideration. If you know of any colleagues best suited to a ‘hot topic’ or theme, please reach out to them to see if they would be interested in participating or curating a special issue.

Encouraging usage of the Journal: Encouraging your faculty, students and other professionals to use the Journal helps librarians to decide to retain/subscribe to the Journal at your

Encouraging your institution to subscribe to the Journal: If based at an institution and it does not already subscribe, please recommend Business Information Review to your Subscriptions ensure the Journal’s commercial success and increased circulation means increased usage and citations.

Participating in board meetings: By attending board meetings we can work together to develop the Journal. Your attendance at each meeting, feedback and experience as an editorial board member are central to informing decisions about the future of the Journal. If you cannot attend please send your feedback to the Editors or

Promoting the Journal at conferences: If you are attending any conferences and would like to take copies of the Journal, or promotional business cards, please contact the Publisher and they can arrange for these to be sent to Networking with colleagues and those in similar research and professional fields about the journal is imperative to the development and proliferation of Business Information Review.

Applications are welcome from well-networked practitioners and academics in the field of information provision and management. Those interested in submitting an application should send an up-to-date CV with a statement outlining their reasons for wanting to join the Editorial Board. Being a member entitles you to a gratis online subscription to the Journal.

All enquiries, expressions of interest and applications should be directed via email to:

Claire Laybats and Luke Tredinnick, Co-Editors

Email: businessinformationreviewj@gmail.com