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Wednesday, February 7 • 8:30am - 10:00am
Session 1.1B - Juried Papers: Training Knowledge Creation Facilitators: The Alignment of Organizational Needs with LIS Expertise and Curriculum.

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The organizations that survive in an environment of continuous and unpredictable change are those that recognize the importance of knowledge creation. They recognize that it is not sufficient to rely on existing information in the form of past solutions and best practices to solve problems, make decisions, and maintain forward momentum. Rather than choose an existing solution from the canon of best practices, organizations need to create noncanonical solutions that go beyond what is already codified in manuals and white papers: “A communal understanding . . .  that is wholly unavailable from the canonical documents” (Brown & Duguid, 1991, p. 44). This is just as true for large corporations as it is for community organizations.
Yet, there is arguably a lack of graduates ready to take on this facilitation of knowledge creation in complex environment. The focus on developing skills of rational analytic decision-making and planning in business schools has them “sending graduates into an increasingly complex and turbulent business environment without adequately developing their skills to adapt” (Glen, Suciu, & Baughn, 2014, p. 653). The LIS field is uniquely situated to provide research and insight into the best ways for organizations to create knowledge, and its curriculum should reflect that if it is to take advantage of this gap and place students into organizations for the benefit of both students and the economy. This represents an exciting opportunity within the expanding universe of LIS education.
This paper outlines three core elements of a curriculum aimed at preparing students to enter organizations as knowledge facilitators. It outlines things LIS students should understand, as well as examples of things they can do to show mastery of this understanding.
CURRICULAR ELEMENTS
Complexity . The first element is the very awareness of the inevitability of complexity and unpredictability. Students must understand that innovation happens only in the midst of complexity, near the edge of chaos. As living systems, human organizations are in a constant state of flux (von Bertalanffy, 1968). The interaction of agents within the system is too fluid to pin down (Snowden, 2002). And as the environment around them changes, organizations must be able to adapt using self-emergent rules. Ignoring this reality, organizations often get caught in a vicious cycle (Stacey, 1996) of continually searching for best practices that will ensure success, despite the inevitable lack of foresight.
Mastery of this understanding comes as students learn how to guide these systems into a confrontation with this complex reality. Using Stacey’s (1996) Control Parameters , students turn up the rate of information flowing into and throughout the organization, the rate of diversity of agents within the system, and the richness of connections among these agents. These are clearly information and knowledge tasks. And as each is turned up, the organization is nearly flooded with complexity, putting them in a position to innovate.
Conversation . Essential to engagement with these system parameters is conversation. Conversation is where information is introduced and distributed, where the value of diversity is realized, and where the richness of connectivity is required. It was only through conversation that Xerox technicians developed noncanonical solutions for printer problems that went beyond the established and formal solutions manual (Brown & Duguid, 1991). Poor policies continue to be implemented, often, as a result of poor communication that lacks honest and open questioning (Argyris, 1977). Conversation opens up channels to challenge the status quo and coordinate action (Habermas, 1987). Students must understand that, “being in the knowledge business, we are in the conversation business” (Lankes, 2011, p. 63).
One example of showing mastery of this understanding comes as students are taught how to initiate and facilitate Communities of Practice (COPs) (Wenger, 1998). They develop a guidebook for effective CoPs that a) helps these groups decide what they want to be about, b) lays out the ground rules for relationship and effective communication, and c) ties conversation to a practice they want to improve. In these groups, individuals share specialized language from their diverse domains of expertise—what Pask (1975) termed L1 language. Done in the context of a shared conversation, this language is more easily synthesized. As a result, the organization becomes—not simply a place to acquire an existing discourse or identity kit (Gee, 1989)—but a place to create new discourses.
Barriers . Finally, students must be equipped with an understanding of the barriers to information, knowledge, and knowing. Information and knowledge are not nearly as powerful—or valuable—as typically advertised.
First, although the provision of access to information is essential, the barriers to meaningful integration takes much of the power away from information. It is no match for strongly held beliefs (Batson, 1975), pervasive organizational narcissism (Stein, 2003), social norms (Chatman, 1999) or intentional irrationality (Caplan, 2001). These barriers “reduce the value of perceived new information” (Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne, 2007, p. 795).
Second, once integrated as knowledge, it is of little value to innovation unless it inspires action: “We must see knowledge as a tool at the service of knowing not as something that, once possessed, is all that is needed to enable action or practice” (Cook & Brown, 1999, p. 388). And additional barriers to action—or knowing—prove this knowledge to be similarly limited in its power.  It is no match for a lack of self-efficacy (Bandura,1982), a belief that there is nothing to be gained from an action (Ajzen, 1985), or a culture unsupportive of a certain behavior (Lewin, 1947).
Mastery of this understanding of barriers comes as students develop strategies to overcome them. They will learn how to present information in such a way as to inspire meaningful integration. For instance, increasing the cost of being wrong about something should increase one’s rational search for and integration of information (Caplan, 2001). They will also learn how to manipulate the environment in such a way as to inspire actionable knowing. Several models in public health, for instance, show how to account for variables like self-efficacy to ensure that information about a health condition leads to actual changed behavior to prevent that condition (Witte, 1994; Rosenstock, 1974)
CONCLUSION
Each of these elements is focused on information and knowledge, putting them squarely in the realm of LIS. A new curricular core including these elements will ensure that graduates of LIS schools are well positioned to lead organizations toward innovation. This paper provides a cornerstone upon which curriculum restructuring can take place—one that recognizes this new role for the information professional.


Wednesday February 7, 2018 8:30am - 10:00am
Meadowbrook II

Attendees (6)