A simple KM and communication strategy… with double focus on the context


A lot of KM strategies end up in the dustbin. Or in the cemetery of good ideas that never took off. There are many reasons for that, explored and explained ad infinitum in the KM world.

I’d like to zoom in on two of them though:

West Africa Water Initiative

The West Africa Water Initiative

  1. From the inside, the KM strategy may be disconnected from the organisational context, either because it does not follow the overall objectives of the organisation/initiative or because it is formulated in a complex technical jargon, making it sound like an (unjustified) import. There’s nothing worse for employees than to feel someone that doesn’t understand them is trying to shove a strategy, a procedure or a system down their throat.
  2. From the outside it may be disconnected from the local context in which the initiative or organisation is operating. In this case, the initiative may be well thought-through but it will slide on the surface and fall as quickly as someone wearing normal trainers on an indoors soccer field.

This is why, for an assignment on behalf of the West Africa Water Initiative (WAWI) supported by USAid, a colleague and I proposed a KM and communication strategy that is rather practical and really takes into account the context of the initiative itself and crucially the local context and practices at play in that environment.

The strategy we propose basically looks into two main sets of activities and support activities: the main activities are information management (generating, managing and versioning information) and knowledge sharing (face-to-face and virtually, process documenting dialogues, aggregating content). Support activities include: raising visibility for the initiative; working on improving internal KM and communication; developing capacities for all of these activities; linking meaningfully with monitoring and evaluation.

Have a look at this strategy there and let me/us know what you think: http://www.community-of-knowledge.de/beitrag/knowledge-management-and-communication-strategy/ (this is the link to the strategy as it will be published in a journal soon. You can also find the strategy on IRC’s website: http://www.irc.nl/page/62673).

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Walking my talk: “quick and dirty”… on the edge of knowledge


I have been an advocate of producing “quick and dirty” information for a while (see this post and that post). Offering that info, insight, experience out for the public scrutiny seems to me the best way to get good feedback from others and from the reality to refine it and come up with answers or better questions – it’s aligned with the idea that Dave Snowden has about building resilience.

Speedy Gonzales - an iconic messenger?

Speedy Gonzales - an iconic messenger? (Photo Credits Jeremy Brooks, FlickR)

In this respect, now seems like a good moment to also follow suit on this blog by trying and blogging on a more regular basis, for shorter posts. I’m still intending to write longer posts every now and then, particularly from the stock-taking and harvesting insights series. But all in all it may be a better idea for me to get my ideas out and about and to engage with you about them on a more regular basis. And at the moment there is ample matter to draw inspiration from with the couple of IKM-Emergent papers on M&E of KM which should be coming out any day now (the summaries are already available on the IKM website, under ‘what’s new’), the article I’m co-writing on learning alliances in Ethiopia, the study we are conducting about information and knowledge management practices in the water and sanitation sector in Burkina Faso, the personal effectiveness survey which I introduced here and will be discussed shortly (and hopefully approved) by the management of my organisation…

But a first quick and dirty insight for now, though, is a reflection from the series of dialogues about knowledge management that a colleague of mine and I have been having with our Director. When reflecting together upon the added value of our organisation, it struck me that our value actually lied in the combination of the subject matter expertise we have in the WASH sector, combined with the network we possess (in the sector and at its edges, to combine various perspectives) but more crucially even perhaps, is the last aspect of the triangle: the expertise we have in facilitating social learning processes, online and offline. This is an essential way to collectively leverage other peoples’ knowledge, combine it, innovate, learn and learn to learn and ultimately to achieve change on a wider scale and on a longer time span…

If we are living in the age of knowledge, we are also living on the edge of what we know, and increasingly, I think, we will draw from other sources of inspiration than knowledge: feelings and emotions, intuition. Facilitating the expression and combination of these sources will be a critical skill for people and organisations to redefine themselves, their place and value in society. That, and quick and dirty reflection… You reckon?

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