Chapter 4: Records, knowledge and action: an interacting design model – Records Management and Knowledge Mobilisation

4

Records, knowledge and action: an interacting design model

Abstract:

A design model is developed to integrate records management and knowledge mobilisation, using the recordkeeping continuum model as a starting point. From records, the model highlights four elements: a functional map, corporate memory, policies and procedures, and information governance rules; from knowledge: ideas and evidence, interests, institutional rules and social norms. These are mapped onto a three-dimensional model as axes of function, structure and behaviour.

Key words

continuum model

design model

function–behaviour–structure design framework

Mapping the landscape of records and functions

The physical sense of knowledge as an encoded product is closest to the concepts of records management. Records managers speak of the records repository as being the corporate memory of an organisation, which aims to ‘capture today’s experience, knowledge and know-how for tomorrow’s management team’ (National Archives, 2009). They have an understanding of the information that is being created in records and how it relates to current corporate activities. The assumption is that capturing and structuring the information necessary to retain as evidence of corporate activities captures the essential ‘intellectual capital’, or knowledge base, of the organisation in a way that favours a productive distribution and re-use.

Records are commonly said to possess three features: content, context and structure:

 Content is the subject matter of the record or document – what it is about – and its understanding is aided when the record itself displays a sound intellectual structure through which topics are ordered and treated.

 Context relates to the web of relationships within which the record was created and used: how it relates to other records in groups or series; its purpose and how it relates to the activities and functions of an organisation; who it was created by and how it was used.

 Structure is present in these two forms: in the structure of the record itself and in the wider schema in which it is only a small unit.

All three features contribute to the full meaning of the record: content that is taken out of context can be interpreted in diverse ways and may be misleading; structure ‘frames’ the content by making it familiar, in effect saying: ‘read it like this’.

Records management aims to bring all these aspects within a managed environment that reflects the origin of the records, usually based on a single organisation. Preferably, records are structured into functional categories which map out the purposes and scope of the organisation, and are also managed on the basis of these categories (although both organisational structure and subject classifications are sometimes used as ordering principles). Records management aims to maintain evidential value by keeping accurate records of what was said or done, by managing them from creation and capture through to eventual disposal or permanent preservation; and by this to support accountability, in the sense of being able to render a valid account of events.

There are four key characteristics which a formal record must possess, set out in the ISO standard:

 Authenticity: that it is genuinely what it purports to be in itself, correctly identifies when and by whom it was created, and is demonstrably protected against subsequent changes in content or documented context.

 Integrity: that it remains complete and not lacking in any original part.

 Reliability: that it is a full and accurate representation of the actions or transaction that actually took place (otherwise it might authentically purport to represent something that did not in fact occur).

 Usability: that it can be retrieved, made accessible and interpreted without loss of its content, context or relationship to other records.

In one direction, records management faces towards archival management: capturing and preserving important information as an authentic record over time; and in another towards information management: ensuring the information produced by, and available to, current business processes is up to date, reliable and accessible to those who need it.

Best practice prescribes grouping and ordering records through a functional analysis of business structure; while organisational structure changes frequently, functions remain relatively stable. A functional analysis also aids application of management rules to whole categories of records, rather than each individual document: for example, standard periods for retention; rules governing access, share and re-use; levels of security and privacy conditions; whether published under freedom of information; how and when to migrate through changes in technology and data formats. Some of these rules are set by the organisation itself, based on their assessment of risk, some derive from institutions of state, including legislation, court rulings and government regulation.

Records management, then, produces four key elements:

 a map of formal transactions, drawn from an analysis of the organisational purposes, functions and activities, and transactions;

 a corporate memory in the form of an organised set of recorded information, with a content and structure reflecting that analysis, that is managed under strict disciplines to retain authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability, and which extends the memory capabilities of individuals;

 a set of information governance rules that apply to the categories of information held in that organised set, for maintaining regulatory compliance and accountability;

 a set of policies and procedures, as organisational rules for relating the production and use of records in formal transactions to the requirements of corporate memory and governance rules.

Mapping the landscape of knowledge and outcomes

The functional approach is excellent for the business of managing records efficiently and is well liked by records managers; but it is frequently disliked by users concerned with the day-to-day problems of the organisation. The average business user does not often think in functional terms, rather in terms of the knowledge needed to get the work done – much more like a subject-based approach. From this perspective, the focus is on outcomes rather than functions.

Most important to the user is the task to be achieved, how success will be evaluated, the knowledge and resources necessary to complete it, and a confidence in their fitness for purpose. While the records requirement is to capture evidence into a repository that accurately reflects past events, the user requirement is for evidence that guides choice between possible forward actions. Whether this evidence stems from personal experience or is acquired from an external source, the kinds of question that the business user asks of this knowledge are: Will it help to produce the right result? Is it from a trustworthy source? Is it biased or slanted? Will it work for me in these circumstances? Is it practical and actionable? Can I persuade others?

It is helpful to distinguish between services and outcomes:

 Services, whether delivered by public, private or voluntary sector organisations, are transaction based and experienced individually; they are usually well defined by formal rules and procedures and measured by objective performance and quality criteria. Examples include: job-seeking services offered by the government employment service; GP consultations; social work case management.

 Outcomes are broader based and assessed at a collective level, as an aggregation of individual cases, and at a systemic level, where the value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. They are more intangible, harder to define, measure and produce, and are bound up with ideas and values: whether an outcome is considered desirable is contentious, its effects are contestable and its priority subject to change. Example outcomes include: low unemployment and fast return to work; patient lifestyle changes resulting in reduced hospital admissions; reduction in child abuse through improved parenting skills.

Outcomes can be delivered through services, but not usually by services alone; intermediate outcomes may work together to produce a more far-reaching final outcome. For example, in tackling the obesity epidemic, a service focus is on individual patient episodes, which form the backbone of patient records – a knowledge-based intervention could influence the diagnosis and treatment options accessible to GPs or widen the range of referral services; success in many patient episodes accumulates as an intermediate outcome, perhaps backed up by other initiatives aimed at long-term lifestyle changes, focusing on, say, a media campaign on five-a-day healthy diets of fruit and vegetables, action on school meals or greater food standards regulation. All together reinforce each other to produce, or so we hope, an overall final social outcome: a healthier population which makes fewer demands on healthcare services and takes less sick leave from work, improving national productivity and growth. Records map out detailed progress on outputs in each strand, but all acting together make up the knowledge process which produces the final outcome.

Professionals, practitioners and policy-makers are operating in an uncertain and changing knowledge environment. Many of the problems which they are trying to solve are highly intractable and it is difficult to predict the right mix of actions that will successfully deliver the desired change. Typical issues are:

 Ability to direct action: unlike operational management, issues to be tackled will exist outside the environment of the organisation and cannot be controlled directly.

 Embedded values and ideas usually underlie the process of diagnosing problems and setting outcomes resulting in conflicting views on what the problem is and what constitutes success: is child poverty, for instance, best reduced by targeted welfare payments, by ensuring parents are able to remain in work through subsidised childcare, by child-centred preventive intervention at the pre-school stage, by compulsory parental education or by some mix of these? Any one answer is likely to be determined by prevailing values and ideology.

 Behaviour changes in the general population may be a significant element in policy action – in tackling, say, obesity or climate change – and we cannot be sure how to achieve these.

 Unintended consequences: some outcomes may improve one aspect or problem, but work against each other overall; for example, reducing the use of private transport may reduce carbon emissions but also reduce economic growth.

 Multi-organisational participation brings different interests into play: engaging private enterprise for public good introduces commercial interests that then have to be taken into account.

 Transferability: lessons from ‘what works’ in one context may not be applicable in another where the conditions are different.

This is a fluid knowledge environment in which practitioners do much more than simply apply proven practice. They must fit what they know with actions that are affordable and achievable; they must reconcile different meanings and interpretations across all the relevant actors and coordinate potentially conflicting interests; they must anticipate the future as well as analyse the past. In short, they must attempt to make some order out of a chaotic and messy world, be innovative in responding to new situations and be accountable for deciding on that course of action.

Knowledge mobilisation draws on a range of sources to assist this process: the explicit knowledge that exists in past practice, formalised accounts and lessons learned; the potential knowledge that can be mined from recorded information; the experiential knowledge that can be tapped by engaging with interest groups and stakeholders. It aims to mobilise these resources and draw them into practice through an understanding of the overall knowledge processes necessary or likely to produce outcomes, the range of participants and their potential contributions, available evidence and its limitations, and the social and institutional norms, values and behaviours that form the context.

Knowledge mobilisation produces:

 a set of ideas and evidence which are considered relevant to the issues and which may be encoded as explicit knowledge or be shifting, partial and subject to debate by participants;

 a set of interests, drawn from all participants and stakeholders, which guide their perspectives and actions;

 a set of formal institutional rules governing relationships within and between organisations in the policy environment and delivery chain;

 a set of informal norms and values, cultural factors which influence accepted ways of working within that delivery chain.

Dimensions of an integrated map

The sphere of knowledge is concerned with understanding how ideas, interests and action work to produce the outcomes which public policy believes add value to the public domain. It does this by drawing on the experience, skills and expertise of participants and stakeholders, and on explicit knowledge gathered by records and information systems, focusing both experience and reason on the problems of action: what is to be done, and how? The sphere of records is concerned with building a static, well-ordered structure that, on the one hand, maintains secure evidence of decisions and transactions for future use, and on the other, has the potential to contribute to the production of new and useful knowledge through analysis and interpretation of this evidence.

The challenge is to design initiatives in which the complementary aspects mutually reinforce each other, without imposing one ‘view’ on the other – to support innovation and change which is linked to an underlying sustainable structure. To help address the challenge of integrating knowledge mobilisation and records management, we need to bring the various aspects together in a way which defines the boundaries of the problem – what elements must be dealt with – and of the solution space: how they relate to each other. A model helps to think about aspects and dimensions which both have in common, from different perspectives, without losing sight of the whole.

In considering the aspects of knowledge and records discussed above – compiled together in Table 4.1 – two points stand out: in many ways, the aspects complement each other as pairs, offering together a more rounded view of the whole picture; but in doing so, each of the pair is often looking at a different dimension of the issue. For example, in the mode aspect, records focus on a structural, ‘horizontal’ view of narrative and events, whilst knowledge slices through the timeline to examine common

Table 4.1

Comparative aspects of records and knowledge

Aspect of … Records Knowledge
Structure Functional; syntactic Subject-based; semantic
Context Document-based User-based
Content Passively evidential Actively evidential
Perspective Looking backwards Looking forwards
Focus Organisational Institutional; social (in public sector)
Mode Narrative; events Analysis; problems
Accountability What was done? Why was it done? Should it have been done?
Accuracy What did we do/say? Are we getting it right?
Authenticity Real, genuine; legally valid Authoritative; trustworthy
Integrity Original state; complete Sound in principle; sincere; justified
Reliability Accurate representation of action taken Safe, secure to use; repeatable by others
Usability Content accessible through lifetime Can be put into action

Regrouping the separate elements in Table 4.1 into different categories, one can identify three broader dimensions:

 a structural dimension, bringing together elements of organisation and order: accountability and perspective; documents, evidence and narrative in recordkeeping;

 a functional dimension, concerned with purposes, bringing together the focus aspect (identity is the frame for interests) with the criteria for achieving outcomes: the analytical mode, authoritativeness and justification;

 a behavioural dimension, co-ordinating aspects of action with the practical knowledge to achieve results: content and context as enablers, reliability and usability.

An advantage of this approach is that we can connect it to the well-known continuum model for recordkeeping, which delineates its fundamental concepts independent of any technological implementation, as well as to a more general design method, which proposes behaviour – what people do in practice – as the bond between the other two dimensions. This offers both a model which encompasses the key features of records and knowledge together, and a way of working with that model to deliver design solutions in practical situations.

Continuum model of recordkeeping

The traditional model for describing records management is the lifecycle model, borrowed from traditional information systems methodologies, which sets out a series of stages in the life of a record, from capture, storage and management, through retention as a semi-active record for reference purposes, to eventual disposal or permanent preservation in an archive. The continuum model, emerging in Australia some 15 or so years ago, broke away from this sequential model with a framework which maps the ‘essence of records … how they are made, kept and used’ that is independent of their changing aspects through time. A major aim of this model was to unite the records management and archival perspectives in a single coherent view that is not process-driven or sequential. It ‘recognises that records serve multiple purposes … [and] mean different things to different people in different contexts.… They therefore need to be made and maintained in ways that represent and enable these different perspectives, understandings and uses’ (Cumming, 2010). Although it is not universally accepted, it is a well-formed and tested model that offers a sophisticated and elegant statement of recordkeeping and has been influential in projects to re-assess records management practices for the present day.

This statement made by the continuum model is taken here as a basis for the records management aspects of an integrated record–knowledge model. The intention is not to critique the model or dispute its importance for the purposes for which it was developed: the details of records management aspects are taken as given. The bases of the model are used here to inspire development of a platform that can reach out for, and encompass, those other aspects also necessary to describe knowledge mobilisation; in doing so, though, it is necessary to generalise and adapt somewhat.

The structure of the model has two types of element:

 two paired axes, radiating from a central point, rather like spokes on a wheel, that represent essential aspects of the record: with recordkeeping and evidence at opposite ends of a vertical axis; and transactions and identity opposing each other on a horizontal axis;

 four dimensions, concentric circles rippling out from the central point, each representing different perspectives on the record, from the individual at the core through the organisational to the collective.

A version of the model is shown in Figure 4.1; a full version and commentary is available at Upward (1996).

Figure 4.1 Records continuum model

In order to bring knowledge into the model, it is necessary to step outside the frame of recordkeeping, whilst still retaining recognisable reference points back to this statement of it. Some problematic aspects of the model for incorporating the concept of knowledge in a network-based polity are:

 The intention of the model was to integrate records management and archival management; knowledge brings a third axis pair into the model, making it three-dimensional.

 The language used might be confusing in this context; as it stands, it is essentially a two-dimensional model using the term axes to define those dimensions, and the term dimensions to define inner and outer layers. For clarity, the adapted model here will continue to refer to three axes as each representing the three planes of a three-dimensional model, but use the term perspectives for the inner and outer layers.

 In order to incorporate knowledge concepts, the scope of the axes will be widened and generalised somewhat by re-labelling with a more general term.

 Referring to the concentric layers as perspectives de-emphasises the rather hierarchical decomposition and introduces the possibility of more flexible relationships; for example, an individual is not simply part of an organisational unit, but brings knowledge, values, experience and ways of acting from outside that environment; one perspective is not wholly encompassed within the other.

It is hoped that, with these adaptations, those already familiar with the description of records management in the continuum model can map their existing understanding onto the more generalised model developed below.

Developing a global representation

Incorporating a ‘knowing and doing’ axis through these adaptations gives three axes (see Fig. 4.2):

Figure 4.2 Global model showing three axes

 an identity-outcome axis representing functional aspects: the purposes, interim and final outcomes, functions and work routines; and the roles and rationale of those carrying them through – what is to be done, who is to do it, and why they are bothering;

 a recordkeeping-accountability axis representing the structural aspects: the formal systems for defining and organising knowledge; fixing and ordering records; the institutional frameworks that set the formal governance rules between and within organisations; and a broader accountability concept (choosing what to do as well as answering for what was done) – how purpose is defined, organised and accounted for;

 a knowledge-action axis representing the behavioural aspects: the embedded, informal knowledge processes; the cultural norms and values – the informal rules – that govern participants; and how these are expressed in action – how ‘knowing’ relates to ‘doing’;

 four overlaying perspectives, rather like the layers of an onion, reflecting differing, not necessarily consistent, frames of reference: the individual; the organisational; the institutional; and the social (see Fig. 4.3).

Figure 4.3 Global model showing four perspectives

Collaboration can take place at all levels.

The layers are not mutually exclusive: for example, an individual working within a collaborative and organisational context might have various roles and identities as an individual decision-maker, as a member of a community of practice, as an employee of an organisation and as a citizen; the organisational, the institutional and the social are likely to have different degrees of influence in different sectors of the model. Its value is to help us ask systematic questions, not just about how aspects work within each layer, but also about the relationships and transitions between one layer and another. How does knowledge move from the individual to the organisational space? What is the impact on accountability of actions taken by an individual as a professional and as an employee, and what should be recorded? Who are the participants or stakeholders relevant to an outcome defined in social terms and how can their knowledge be mobilised to inform the decision-making process? Are formal policies and procedures consistent between the various levels? How best to structure and organise knowledge and records, and other information management systems, to support that focus?

Mapping the territory: design views

The purpose of the model is to locate the key elements of records management and knowledge mobilisation identified earlier within the model, by allocating each to one or other of the sectors defined by the three axes. It is not intended to be a detailed description of any particular implementation, rather a way to strip away some of the detail in order to see these key elements and their inter-relationships more clearly; and to be able to ask systematic questions about those relationships.

The traditional four-box matrix is easy to work with, but requires all characteristics to fit within one of only four options; a three-dimensional model is more flexible, but is harder to visualise. It is best thought of as a solid sphere, like a globe of the world, with each of the three axes running right through the core of the earth at right angles to each other. Looked at from one side, there are four sectors, or segments, defined by the two flat axes facing you; revolve the globe on an axis and there are another four on the reverse side, making eight sectors in all. Each sector is defined by the space between three coordinating points – the end points of the axes, where they meet the surface of the globe.

One can then allocate each of the eight key elements of records management and knowledge mobilisation to one or other of the eight sectors. For example, one sector is defined by the three points of recordkeeping, outcomes and action, and the key element functions and transactions is allocated to that sector in the model; another sector is defined by knowledge, accountability and outcomes, to which ideas and evidence is allocated.

This can be quite complicated to visualise in three dimensions, but once the mapping is grasped the model is very versatile. (I found drawing it out on the skin of a whole orange with a felt pen quite helpful!) The main advantage is that the model can be turned, changing the viewpoint to highlight different configurations of the key elements, just as a globe of the world can be turned to show different views. A view of the world with China at the centre looks very different from one centred on western Europe; but we know that the side not visible still exists. A half-turn would put the Americas at the focal centre, again a different view.

This is advantageous because the model can be used to show different design views without losing the connections with elements that are not visible at the time. Two possible design views are shown in Figures 4.4 and 4.5; the first centres on recordkeeping as the main focal point and the second of the pair (the reverse side) on accountability. In thinking about the design of recordkeeping systems, we are concerned with bringing together these four key elements: designing policies and procedures to support the organisational functions and transactions, so that the records they produce can be captured, stored and made accessible in the corporate memory in ways that comply with the formal rules of information governance. In thinking about mobilisation of knowledge, we are concerned with making the best use of available ideas and evidence, by putting them into practice within the existing frameworks of formal institutional rules and informal working cultures made up of accepted norms and values that influence behaviour, in ways that take account of the interests of all participants and stakeholders.

Figure 4.4 Records management design view

Figure 4.5 Knowledge mobilisation design view

Even though they are not shown in that particular view, we know that the material held in ideas and evidence (including perhaps work in progress from professional and social networks, published knowledge, statistical data, unrecorded discussions and debates, etc.) is backed up by the existence of a corporate memory, which holds evidence on past actions and decisions, policy statements, consultations, and so on. Similarly, the formal rules of information governance must fit with the rules of institutional governance to be effective.

Several design views are possible, created by turning the globe to change the viewpoint. Some of these views will share some of the key elements and, where they do, we are then in a position to compare their treatment between views and to ask whether they are consistent with each other. In this example, a half-turn to the left from the Figure 4.4 position creates another pair of views: one brings together the formal and informal institutional framework with internal policies, procedures and information governance, with a focus on identity – a view that stresses regulation; and the other highlights the interplay of ideas with interests (what could be done) with corporate memory and transactions (what has been and is being done) to produce outcomes – a more innovation-centred view. Figures 4.6 and 4.7 show these design views.

Figure 4.6 Regulation-centred design view

Figure 4.7 Innovation-centred design view

This comparison is a helpful tool in thinking through the consistency of design decisions from different perspectives. How well, for example, do policies and procedures designed with records management in mind stand up when seen in the context of the wider landscape of organisational regulation and governance? Do they make a good fit with existing cultural norms and expectations; and if not, should the policies be adapted to meet the culture, or is some sort of change initiative needed to make the existing culture more hospitable to these policies? How well does the material associated with ideas and evidence, and that held as corporate memory, fit with each other as accessible resources – are they complementary or contradictory?

Recalling the four perspectives – social, institutional, organisational, individual – that also make up the model, a second type of comparison is possible. The surface layer of the globe is the social perspective, which is surely correct: the purpose of government, and other activity in the public sector, is to produce social outcomes that add public value, not for its own sake; and so the starting point for design, management and transformation must be to consider the effects on the wider social world. The first step is to discover what it is we are trying to achieve – what is the point of it all? – and the second to work out how to go about it; and only here should the constraints and opportunities that emerge from considering issues of feasibility and achievability, practicality and affordability, moderate these initial ambitions. Many records and knowledge initiatives start from the position of what already exists and so fail to question assumptions or prejudices, quickly becoming a force for stasis rather than change.

Peeling away the layers of the globe – to view the component geological strata, as it were, that support the whole – tightens the focus, bringing issues of conflict or inconsistency between the various implementation perspectives to the light. Are proposed policies and procedures feasible and acceptable from both the organisational and individual perspectives? Are different cultures present, perhaps following a merger between two organisations, so that there is a disconnect between what different groups know and do? Are organisations collaborating on common outcomes subject to the same rules for information governance, and what implications would any distinctions have for the purposes of that collaboration?

In summary, the global model is a tool for thinking about:

 co-location of the key elements, harmonising them for one purpose while retaining their wider context;

 comparison between design views, to work through issues of consistency and conflict between purposes;

 de-layering of perspectives, to work through issues of feasible implementation at different granularities.

The aim is to adjust the design of elements with each other, taking into account different viewpoints and perspectives, to reach the best available fit so that all elements are interacting with each other in a balanced manner.

Scaling the maps: a design method

The problem when all elements can adjust to each other is: which takes precedence and sets the benchmark? This is a central problem in attempting to harmonise records management and knowledge mobilisation – each perceives itself as the priority – and is a major cause of frustration and disharmony. The earlier analysis identified the three principal axes as representatives of three generic concepts: structure (the recordkeeping-accountability axis); function (the identity-outcome axis); and behaviour (the knowledge-action axis). This section draws on some ideas proposed by John Gero in his work on a function-behaviour-structure (FBS) design framework (Gero and Kannengiesser, 2004), as suggesting an approach to this problem.

The FBS framework emerged from work on artificial intelligence, but is applicable to a range of complex adaptive systems; there is not space here to explore the framework in detail, but some of its key insights are highly useful. The framework is an alternative to more conventional methods, which assume design is focused on a fixed, unchanging world, and the problem is to describe something in sufficient detail to extend it with a new artefact or system. Instead, Gero and Kannengiesser observe that all features cannot be known beforehand and that the act of design itself changes how we understand the problem; what we do changes what we are looking at in an interactive dynamic process.

This seems quite central to successful knowledge mobilisation initiatives, which are interventions in the real world: the knowledge which is mobilised – put into practice – must by definition change the knowledge frameworks and professional practice already possessed by participants. The knowledge we are working with changes organically, in response to the work we do with it. It is also an important insight for records management implementations, which all too often attempt to automate the existing physical environment, capturing its problems whilst blocking off potential opportunities as yet unarticulated. The experience of implementing an EDRM system, for instance, changes our understanding of records management in this new context in ways that cannot be predicted in advance. Becoming locked in to a too detailed standard that is based on the past (such as the MoReq2 standard) closes off the opportunity to benefit from this experience.

The purpose of government is not to maintain itself as an institution (although this may be the purpose of some in government), and neither is the purpose of records management to create records in order for them to be managed. Objectives and outcomes, and the creation of public value, should be the starting point for transformation. A design rule promoted by the FBS approach is known as the no function in structure principle. This says that one cannot derive a function directly from a structure: an organisation, or a set of procedures, or a software program may be structured in a particular way for many reasons – because it is misunderstood by users, because past practice lives on even though outmoded, to accommodate political or cultural pressures. It is not possible to work out the purpose of something that is complex and adaptable, just by examining how the parts are put together. Instead, function and structure are linked by behaviour. Three examples of common practices which illustrate the importance of this rule are:

 Software evaluation: to test the capabilities of an EDRM programme, say, one must first determine a functional requirement and work out the expected behaviour that will deliver it; then observe the system’s behaviour and compare the two; the results may lead to an adjustment of requirement, a reworking of the expected behaviour or a change to the software. Behaviour is the switching mechanism between function and structure.

 Outcomes mapping: programme management aims to map the projects and activities of an organisation onto the programme outcomes; but starting from a description of the projects that exist, and finding a way to connect them to outcomes, simply justifies the present structure. One must start from the outcomes, determine the activities

 necessary to deliver them and then map these onto a working structure (or adapt the outcomes if unfeasible).

 Information audit: an as-is descriptive analysis of the records that are being created in an organisation is a necessary, but insufficient, part of the business analysis; proactive to-be analysis, stemming from organisational objectives, of what should be created in the future is needed for transformative action.

The implication – that to coordinate function and structure we need to go via behaviour – points towards an orientation of the global model that focuses on knowledge and action as the starting point for analysis.

This design view prompts asking questions about:

 Knowledge process and flows: what do we need to know to achieve policy aims? Where is that knowledge located, what needs to be shared, what kept private? What counts as evidence? What needs to be remembered and what forgotten?

 Knowledge networking: what actions are needed to achieve programme outcomes? Are the relevant actors putting their knowledge into practice? Are new knowledge and ideas generated by participants connected and captured? Is there a match between knowledge and interests, where are the gaps? Whose knowledge needs to be brought in to the processes?

 Information resources: what is appropriate to capture as inert knowledge? What is fluid and dynamic? Which activities are formally documented? How can formal records be fed back into knowledge generation?

Figure 4.8 Knowledge-centred design view

Figure 4.9 Action-centred design view

The answers to these kinds of question form the foundation for building a knowledge strategy and determining practical action, based on outcomes rather than inputs. The next two chapters expand the regulation-centred and innovation-centred views, and Part 2 offers some practical interventions.

Table 4.2

Expansion of key features as allocated in global model

Feature Coordinates Illustrative examples
Institutional rules Knowledge Accountability Identity Relevant political, economic and social structures. Statutory powers and responsibilities. Organisational rules and relationships.
Information governance Knowledge Recordkeeping Identity Principles and case rules governing uses of records and information: datasharing, information security, privacy, freedom of information, capture, retention, disposal.
Ideas and evidence Knowledge Accountability Outcomes Strategies, evidence, argument and persuasion for shaping policies and objectives; methodologies for delivering outcomes; ideological frameworks and professional values.
Corporate memory Knowledge Recordkeeping Outcomes Formal record-keeping systems. Formalised procedures and business processes. Narratives, ‘war stories’, mentoring, apprenticeship.
Interests Action Accountability Outcomes Interest groups, stakeholders and participants. Advocates, coalitions, organisational roles, communities. Politics and bureaucracy: officials and elected members.
Functions and transactions Action Recordkeeping Outcomes Functions, activities and transactions. Business processes and strategies. Formal statements and communications.
Norms, values and behaviour Action Accountability Identity Accepted ways of working, informal exchange, ‘hidden’ work processes; cultural values: ‘fair dealing’, appropriate behaviour in roles, patterns of incentives and rewards.
Policies and procedures Action Recordkeeping Identity Formalised records management policies and practices. Embedded procedures in business processes. Corporate strategies, risk management, governance.

Key principles

 Records management is organisation-centric: mirroring an analysis of the organisation as records assemblies, together with rules and procedures for their management.

 Knowledge mobilisation is outcome-centric: coordinating the knowledge base inherent in ideas, interests and institutions.

 Both offer complementary aspects: records management and knowledge mobilisation are ‘two sides of the same coin’.

 Model the whole landscape: compare different views and contrast key elements in each to reveal issues.

 Behaviour mediates between function and structure: start design from the outcomes and the knowledge needed to produce them.