When I was asked to write this blog, I wondered what on earth I could contribute considering I am not from an information management background and could never be considered an expert! I certainly won’t be seeking to impart any guru style pearls of wisdom as anybody reading this is likely to know far more than me on the subject. However, I have been working now as part of the IISaM team for 12 months and I thought I would share what, for me, has been the most important thing that I have come to realise – that all good information sharing appears to be built upon good relationships, trust and confidence.
We are increasingly working in complex environments, within organisations that undertake multiple functions, and in partnerships that span multiple agencies, and information – the way we use information – is central to enabling these relationships to work. We are often tasked with making things work, getting things done – how many times have we heard the phrase ‘delivering quick wins’? New programmes come on line where we are required to deliver long term results within short term time frames and do it more efficiently and more effectively. New ways of organising services around the family, earlier intervention, less resources, and centrally driven targets mean that we have to work better together. But in this environment, is there room to step back and think about broader policies or information governance? Is there room to think strategically about our information needs? Is there time to invest in building the relationships and trust that is a pre-requisite for good, appropriate and safe information sharing? And do the people that develop and implement the practice have enough knowledge and confidence to do so safely when it comes to information?
Sometimes the drive to develop practice – to get things done – results in problems when it comes to sharing information. We get stuck into putting in place the protocols, agreements and procedures to do what we want to do, but come unstuck when we can’t get our partners to share the information that we need, either because there is a lack of clarity about what is required, or there is a lack of understanding about different organisational cultures, or there is a lack of trust between agencies because they are not confident that their information will be used and managed appropriately.
It seems to me that when we collectively take a step back to think and plan our information needs strategically, when we ensure that we have the appropriate governance in place with senior management support, and when we ensure our staff are appropriately informed and supported, information sharing becomes easier and more transparent. Most important of all is taking steps to build relationships with and understand our partners and the way in which they manage their information. What are the influences that will/won’t allow them to share their data? This last point is something that partners in Bradford were particularly keen to stress and one that we hope to work with them on – What can we do to encourage and support this understanding?
Watch this space……