When I joined the Centre at the start of November 2015, the area I knew least was the work of the academics that support us on our quest for improved information sharing. This all changed a few weeks ago when I boarded a train to Newcastle on a blustery Sunday evening for a Monday meeting at Newcastle University with one of the Centre’s academics Rob Wilson and his colleague Mike Martin.
The train journey was about four hours long, with a couple of changes, so I spent the time leafing through the Centre’s 2015 academic report – Information Sharing: Easy to say harder to do well. After the third time of reading, I started to get a grasp of what it was about and it dawned on me that an academic’s outlook on the world, how it works and how they solve problems, is very different to my own.
After a night in a hotel, a hearty breakfast and a brisk walk through Newcastle city centre I arrived with my colleagues at the university building Rob is based in. He met us in the café and after the normal round of handshakes and hello’s (and slightly embarrassing incident where I introduced myself as Rob Nat), we sat down for a quick overview of the academic team, who are based at universities around England, and a brief talk about the work the academics had been doing.
Next, I was introduced to the magical mind of Mike Martin, an academic who works alongside Rob at the university – after this the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. The level of detail both Mike and Rob work to and the different perspectives they use to get to a new way of looking at a problem was at first a little overwhelming, but ultimately inspiring.
I won’t even attempt to explain the theories, practices and work that Mike spoke to us about, but I didn’t leave the meeting empty handed. Rob outlined three tips for information sharing from an academic perspective, so here goes:
- Positive attitudes about information sharing don’t necessarily lead to information sharing (information sharing contexts have a bearing on attitudes, but not necessarily information sharing intention and/or information sharing behaviours)
- A ‘one size fits all’ approach to information sharing is unlikely to work (purely bureaucratic or procedural approach to information sharing, based on the requirements of one organisational perspective, is not going to ‘solve the problem’)
- A holistic and long term partnership approach which draws on local relationships and acknowledges the differences between organisational approaches and professional practices is the most likely to bear fruit.
As I walked back to Newcastle train station to start the four hour train journey back to Leicester, my head was swimming with new information and new ways of working, but most importantly, an insight into a new perspective of how different people can think about the same thing in a totally different way.
You can find out more about the academic thinking around information sharing by visiting our academics webpage.