Hélène Russell is a self-employed knowledge management and learning consultant working primarily with law firms, based in Bristol and a member of the South West CILIP committee with responsibility for co-ordinating events. Hélène describes a typical day…
How did I end up in this job?
It was a happy accident!
Many years ago, I worked as a lawyer in Bristol in clinical negligence litigation. When a patient suffered a medical mishap of some sort and sued a medical practitioner who worked for the NHS, I would be asked by the NHS to advise whether they should defend or settle the claim and represent them in the legal proceedings. After my son was born, I wanted to work part time. My team’s Professional Support Lawyer (PSL) left the firm while I was on maternity leave and my boss asked if I fancied taking over. PSLs are specialists in particular fields and usually work embedded in a department running training, knowledge precedents/practice notes/databases and any knowledge-based marketing the firm does, such as newsletters, client training and social media. I remained a PSL for 3 years before leaving that law firm to start my own business.
I’ve been working for myself now for 10+ years and I now
- run open training events and in-house awaydays,
- run knowledge sharing and learning community groups,
- write textbooks,
- film webinars and create online courses,
- mentor Knowledge Managers and
- give advice.
I’m particularly interested in how knowledge, learning and innovation intersect within businesses and how to improve profitability through strategic Knowledge Management.
What do I do, day-to-day?
My days are pretty varied, but this will give a flavour of what I do. This is based on what I did on Monday 15th July.
I’m running two training sessions this week: one on Wednesday in Birmingham on design thinking for knowledge managers and one on Thursday in London about the foundations of knowledge management in legal services. I research latest thinking and update my slides. I also do a bit of admin, checking that everyone who is coming to the events knows where to go and has told me about any food allergies. I check the venues know who is expected, what teaching aids I’ll need and that they have sorted out the catering for me.
I proofread my typeset chapter for Ark’s multi-author book on Innovation and KM. I’ve written a chapter all about what Innovation is and how businesses can improve innovation levels and creativity inside their business by creating diverse groups to make use of “creative abrasion”. I suggest a couple of grammatical changes to improve readability, but I’m fairly happy with it. (Since I wrote this article, the book has been published and you can see the details for it here https://kminsight.co.uk/products/tomorrows-km-innovation-best-practice-and-the-future-of-knowledge-management )
I run a book club for knowledge and learning professionals and send out packages of books to members once a quarter. They are due a book before the end of July so I do some research and have a think about what book would be of interest to everyone. So far this year we’ve read “Critical Knowledge Transfer” by Dr Dorothy Leonard and “Smart Collaboration” by Dr Heidi Gardner. I decide that this time it’d be interesting to read a practical handbook as a contrast and I decide to buy “The Knowledge Manager’s Handbook” by Nick Milton. I research which seller has the best prices, then buy a big box of them!
I tend to have quite quiet summers, as most clients and their employees are on holiday, but I’ve a couple of clients who have engaged me to work with them but haven’t decided when we should start work together yet. I don’t anticipate that either will want me to start in the next two weeks, but I get in touch with both of them and make sure they know that I’ll be away and that it won’t be a problem.
I write a monthly newsletter which goes out on the first Friday of each month in which I discuss current issues in law firm KM. As we’re now over halfway through the year, I decide it’d be interesting to look at which KM articles on my blog have been most popular so far and write the newsletter on that theme. I schedule it to send while I’m away on the first Friday of the month. I also schedule a few posts and tweets, so my social media accounts don’t go entirely quiet.
I finish work at 4.30 so I can take my son to his cycling coaching session but I take my laptop with me and carry on working on my talks while I’m waiting for him to finish. Eventually I’m happy with my slides and I send them off to the venues to be loaded onto their systems, so they’ll be waiting for me when I arrive to do my talks.
And that’s it. It was a fairly typical day of writing and editing, researching and preparing talks, and some client care and business admin. I imagine those who work in KM inside a business have a quite different time.
If you want to follow what I write about KM and hear about my events, you can follow my blog here (https://knowledge4lawyers.wordpress.com/) or sign up for the newsletter here (https://theknowledgebusiness.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=aecc002ba78e3998f96a2cb98&id=9bb9e4d790).
And if you ever want a coffee and a chat, just get in touch (email@example.com).