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Data risk, data liability, data legacy: Breakfast at Roast

How does an inspiring knowledge leader act? How do they demonstrate knowledge-sharing behaviours? In good times, it is easier simply to pay lip service to carefully constructed knowledge and information strategies. When revenue is flowing in, why bother with all that clutter? But if knowledge were to be shared, it would generate revenue. What does this kind of leadership look like? Role modelling behaviours, culture change, rhetoric versus action – these were the thought-provoking directions our breakfast discussion took this morning at Roast in Borough Market.

Bold initiatives in knowledge and information sharing bring attendant risks and liabilities. When wide data sharing is encouraged, where should the boundaries of intellectual property be drawn? In an information and data rich environment, everyone can quickly behave like an expert with a handful of eye-catching facts at their finger-tips. Where does informed criticism stop and sound-bite tub-thumping begin? Sound-bite summaries are expected rather than in-depth analyses, with the side-effects that true specialism and expertise are easily denigrated, and professional relationships and reputations can be soured on a whim, or on the basis of a barely-read briefing document. Should information professionals hold back the reins of knowledge sharing or, as one of our guests suggested, feel the fear and do it anyway?

We also considered the idea of continuity and succession planning: what professional inheritance will each of us leave when we move on to our next role?  Will our lovingly-polished specialist shoes be filled with an immediate and identifiable successor, or will multi-skilling (or cross-skilling), rationalisation and downsizing win the day?

With all of these strands of discussion in mind, should our motto (or epitaph?) be, as another of our guests mischievously suggested "Mistakes were made but not by me".*

During a stimulating couple of hours, and a splendid breakfast, our conversation ranged over many areas. One guest extolled the benefits of noseyness and the ability to think outside the box as measures of long-term success. Others were contemplating the major life and career changes that re-entering, or finally retiring from the workplace will bring.

Nonetheless we seemed to reach a consensus on how 2013 is going so far  – this year is bringing a plethora of bewildering uncertainties and exciting opportunities in equal measure.

 - Donald Lickley

 *Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts. Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, (Pinter & Martin, 2008).

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