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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reading now: Making Knowledge Visible

Communicating Knowledge Through Information Products, by Elizabeth Orna, The Gower Developments in Business Series, Gower, 2005, 212 pp. ISBN-10: 0566085631. [Dewey Class No.: 658.4'038 / Library of Congress Classification: HD30.2 .O75

About the book:
The only way we can make what we know visible to other people is by putting it into Information Products – the products, in any medium, where users meet the information they need, and gain access to the knowledge of others.

Without them, little business would get done inside organizations or between them and the outside world. They are essential for the flow, exchange, application, and preservation of information and knowledge.

This is the first book to make the case for the proper recognition of information products by organizations. It shows how they should support business objectives and processes and be incorporated into information strategy and information architecture; illustrates the value they can both add and subtract; identifies the full range of stakeholders in them; and argues that a triple alliance of information management, information systems/IT, and information design is critical for successful information products.

Stories from real life illustrate every step of the argument. The final part of the book demonstrates how an actual organization used information auditing as a tool to develop a strategic information product for an important user community.

Contents: Foreword. Part 1 Basic Ideas: Before we begin; No business without information products. Part 2 Information Products in the Organisational Context: Introduction - The context of information products; The business of the organisation; The value that IPs add (and subtract); The stakeholders and their interests. Part 3 In Support of IPs; Introduction; Knowledge and information management in support of IPs; Infrastructure for IPs: information systems, technology tools; Information design, reconciler of conflicting constraints. Part 4 Action for IP Value - a Practical Process: Introduction; An information auditing approach; Making a start; Auditing information products; Into action for value from IPs; Index.

About the Author: Elizabeth Orna is the author of Practical Information Policies (Ed2,1999) and Information Strategy in Practice (2004), and co-author with Charles Pettitt of Information Management in Museums (1998), all published by Gower. Described by a reviewer as 'too good to be a guru', she is a an information consultant and writer well known for her extraordinary insight and lucidity. She lectures internationally on information management and information presentation.

Reviews: 'This book is aimed at information and systems analysts and managers, web designers, communication specialists, plus teachers and students of business management. I think librarians, project managers, and business consultants would also have a lot to learn from what she has to say.' Mantex, August 2005
On the Same Shelf:
  • Mapping Information Flows: A Practical Guide, Information Management Journal, Jan/Feb 2004 by Hibberd, Betty Jo, Evatt, Allison
    In her book Practical Information Policies, Elizabeth Orna states, "Experience shows that people concerned with information management have no difficulty with the concept [of information mapping], or with deriving knowledge and information needs from the objectives of their own organizations. And it usually takes no more than a few hours to produce the answers."

    While many information professionals faced with the task would no doubt disagree with her assessment of the time involved, they consider mapping information flows important as a framework for analyzing how information moves within an organization and for understanding the services necessary to match the true needs of their clients.

    Orna further notes, "...information flows are helpful in disentangling the reality from strings of words" and says she considers information mapping a method to "visualiz[e] the immediate and wider organizational context and the Outside world'...." In other words, the outcome of this process produces a deeper understanding of the organization that enables a more direct link to key stakeholders. This can be especially important if the IRC reports to non-information functions within the organization.
  • The high cost of not finding information. By Susan Feldman - KMWorld, Mar 1, 2004: [Information disasters, The costs of not finding information, How successful are most searchers?, How much time is spent reworking or recreating information because it has not been located?, Finding information][citation courtesy: Bibliography on information management @ Willpower Information]
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