AND INDUSTRY TALK SPACES
round table to communities of practice
Specialists' round tables
and Humanities Round Table [ARTHUR]
Table on the Information Economy [ROTIE]
The Information Specialists
Division of the Australian Library and Information Association has established
round tables to promote its interests,
help shape strategy, generate information and build connections.
FROM ROUND TABLE TO COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
tables and special interest networks are now common in professional
and Van Vlack recommend them for their value in creating opportunities for
member involvement, providing regular feedback and articulating direction.
Their strategic value is
underscored by Blanken and Liff. Planning has become the art of strategic
dialogue and collaboration. Planning is an ongoing learning process that never
ends. Environmental scanning is a systematic and continuous effort to search
for important clues about how the world is changing and how these changes are
likely to affect an organisation or association.
who select themselves
long as interest lasts
requirements, common goal
pass on business information
long as people have reason to connect
To achieve success in the
global economy, Rod Brown champions the importance of links - industry
clusters - to rein in competitiveness, encourage collaboration, and off-set
the lack of critical mass, a small population, vast continent and parochial
attitudes. Past market failures in Australia, derived from its disposition for
competitive rather than collaborative behaviour, underlined by a modest record
in commercialising research, have been:
information for the investor or potential investor. A lack of firm
quantitative data and a lack of feel by institutional investors for
initiatives outside their comfort zone.
Short-term focus among
appreciation (by proponents as well as governments) that investments and
research alliances often have had gestations of three to five years.
Long-term agendas have been frustrated by management reshuffles.
Insufficient reality checks have harmed projects. Realistic feedback from
government has not been forthcoming because officials have been
reluctant to say it as it is.
Academics often become project proponents, but have tended to lack
Rivalry and low levels
of trust. Australian companies have tended to view everyone in their
field as competitors and rivalry among government departments has been
supporting infrastructure. The 3 tiers of government and the lack of
long-term planning have made it hard to coordinate hard and soft
infrastructure gaps. Even when they are identified, there have been long
delays in filling infrastructure gaps due to disputes as to who should
Lack of connection
between the participants. Many participants have been involved in
making connections with overseas investors and researchers, but they are
usually in direct competition with each other.
SPECIALISTS’ ROUND TABLES
Information Specialists Division, organiser of the biennial Australasian
Information Online Conference and Exhibition, has over 2500 members or
participants in its activities. It’s goals, developed during recent planning
workshops, include research,
professional development and promotion of the role of the information
specialists. A business plan is being developed to review and validate its
initial assumptions and objectives.
tables have been established as part of its organisational structure to
promote interests, increase member visibility, help shape strategy, build
connections with kindred organisations and act as an information supplier to
the national committee,
e-list, newsletter and conference.
The term round table has been
applied as a generic concept for contact officers, special interest networks,
think links, think tanks, communities of practice, cluster triggers, expert
teams or projects representing particular sectors, disciplines and topics.
They may consist of an individual or assembly of individuals. Membership of
ALIA is not mandatory. They may
operate as a virtual unit or as one-off events such as breakfasts, luncheons
and dinners with a guest speaker or facilitator or be part of a mini
conference or the full Online Conference.
AND HUMANITIES ROUNDTABLE [ARTHUR]
In its first month, ARTHUR attracted
participants from NSW, the ACT and Victoria representing the library, archive,
museum, arts marketing, multimedia, filmmaking and information technology
other library, archive and museum associations such as ARLIS/ANZ,
ASRA, IAML, ALIA Music Libraries Special Interest Group, Museums Australia
Performing Arts Special Interest Group;
bodies such as Artspeak, Music Council of Australia, National
Association of Visual Arts and Currency House;
bodies such as the Australia Council, DOCITA and state arts
bodies such as the Australian National Council for Creative Arts;
international bodies include the Arts and Humanities Data Service and
National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage.
TABLE ON THE INFORMATION ECONOMY [ROTIE]
ROTIE is concerned with
exploring the information industry, identifying the place of libraries and
other information agencies on the information industry map and addressing
issues arising from such research.
members are currently drawn from NSW, ACT and Victoria and include information
professionals with backgrounds and affiliations in government, employment,
multimedia, film, information technology, public library and archive
that invite scrutiny or links include the Australian National Office of the
Information Economy, Business Council of Australia, Australian Research
Council, Department of
Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, information technology
groups such as the Australian Computer Society and various library, archive
and museum groups with like-minded interests.
The agenda is likely to be
formed from the following list: the value of information; form versus and
content; information industry infrastructure; government policy and strategy;
corporate information management, e-commerce and business systems; innovation,
research and development; cross-sectoral issues; and professional development
Specialists invites people to join existing round tables and encourages the
establishment of other round tables representing sectors, disciplines and
topics. In addition to ARTHUR and ROTIE, round tables on knowledge management,
web management and business information are in train and expressions of
interest have been submitted on a number of other areas.
Information Specialists is
considering operating frameworks that will take into account the views of
round table members. Each type of innovation network may have its own specific
requirements. Limerick, Cunningham and Crowther flag possible pitfalls:
Goal ambiguity and network boundaries. If there is no common hierarchy to support
the parent organisation or when purpose is ill-defined or ambiguous, the
network tends to fall apart or become ineffective.
Sovereignty. The existence of sovereign independent units may affect the survival of
the organisation as a whole.
Asymmetry. Problems tend to arise in networks when the arrangement favours one
partner more than others.
Creation of potential competitors. The transfer of technology and know-how
creates potential competitors.
Focus on the short term. The difficulty of establishing trust can lead to
problems of under-management and inadequate resourcing.
Communication and control. Networks demand intensive, fast,
sophisticated communication between network operations.
Critical success factors,
according to Wissema and Euser, will be their ability to mobilise attention,
time and money, sustain a common interest and avoid conflicts of interests.
solving formulae are manifold. Knowledge management toolkits such as those
offered by Tiwani provide guidance on analysing infrastructure, aligning
information strategy with business needs, auditing knowledge assets and
systems and developing solutions. The Coalition of Networked Information’s
framework of common understanding for the analysis and description of
institutional information strategies could serve as a model for presenting
needs and opportunities.
The agenda will very much depend on the
interests and commitments of the people involved.
you are interested in forming a round table or joining one, please contact
Paul Bentley at email@example.com.
Coalition for Networked
Information. Special section in
Information Technology and Libraries June 1998: 82-108.
Cunningham, Bert and Crowther, Frank. Managing
the new organisation; collaboration and sustainability in the post-corporate
world. 2nd ed. Warriewood: Business & Professional
Sheehy, Carolyn A
[editor]. Managing performing arts collections in academic and public
libraries. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1994.
The knowledge management toolkit: practical techniques for building a
knowledge management system. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.
Webber, Fred and Van Vlack,
Charlie. Association reorganisation:
keeping ahead of the curve. Association Management, February 2000:51-59
Communities of Practice: the organizational frontier. Harvard Business
Review, January-February 2000.
Wissema, J. G & Euser,
L. Successful innovation through
inter-company networks, Long Range Planning Vol 24 no 6, 1991:33-29