Tasks for Modern Info Pros: Do Good Work

In November 2013, SLA published The Evolving Value of Information Management, a report summarizing the results of research commissioned by SLA and the Financial Times. The report, which was based on surveys of and interviews with information professionals and senior information users, identified 5 essential attributes of modern information professionals and set forth 12 key tasks they must perform.

In the months since the report was published, several SLA members have shared their thoughts about the 12 tasks. In this post, Jacob Ratliff issues a call to action—do good work, do it often, and do it quickly, without waiting for buy-in or permission. While his message doesn’t correspond directly to any specific task in the report, it does address the value proposition that underlies all of them, and for that reason it deserves to be included in this series.


I am not going to pontificate on the definition of modern information professionals. We are those people; we know what we do. What we need to do is demonstrate value, be a part of the culture that exists, and have others appreciate the unique skill set(s) that we have. We bring value, but we need to make it front and center, and we need to do it quickly and often.

My advice?

Stop asking for permission. Stop waiting for someone to tell you it is a good idea. Do not get buy-in from all the necessary stakeholders. Do not get bogged down in planning meetings.

Just do work—good work.

Have the work be so good that no one cares that you did it without “buy in” or “permission” or weren’t assigned resources. Let the value of the work speak for itself, and be unapologetic about it.

As a service-based profession, we have a tendency to want to always find out what people want, do it in a way that they prefer, and make sure it is done exactly that way. Not to say that this is bad (hello, UX!), but it should not be done at the expense of getting things done.

Info pros understand the problems and issues that an organization is having, whether they are internal issues (KM), systems issues (taxonomy/IT), or external issues(research/CI). Use that knowledge and make the changes that need to be made. Fix the issues that need fixing. Do not be held back by bureaucracy.

Proactively create solutions for the business. Do not get stuck in the loop of asking for permission, or trying to understand how much it will help. If it will help, make it happen. Get stuck in the loop of making awesome happen.

Do work. Make it awesome, and reap the rewards.

—Jacob Ratliff is the information architect/UX specialist at Management Sciences for Health in Medford, Massachusetts.

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