What comms/KM functions for what results?


The workshop on “Organizing, Managing, Communicating and Leveraging Information and Knowledge to Support and Deliver CGIAR research program Results: A hands-on Workshop on Approaches, Tools, Systems and Services” happened last week.

As participant and facilitator I didn’t manage to find the time to share insights from the workshop but have lots to process still about e.g. monitoring knowledge work, the overall picture of KM and comms in an organisation, how to move towards achieving more impact focusing on our comms/KM support. And there was also the topic of this blog post, around the KM/comms functions that an organisation might need (which could also be useful for the CGIAR research programs but frankly span much wider frontiers)…

The workshop featured one ‘building block’ session about this. At the end of the session, the group decided to work on some sort of decision-support infographics that would help assess the needs for certain communication/KM functions. The picture that emerged during the session considered a set of variables at organisational level, matched at individual level:

  • Organisational objectives / personal learning and development priorities
  • Organisational capacities (know-how) and expertise areas (knowledge) / Individual  know-how and knowledge
  • Organisational and individual networks
  • Organisational culture (which affects the soft side of comms profiles, i.e. what kind of principles and values should comms/KM folks follow to perform effectively in a given programme or organisation) and individual principles and values

These are the drivers that influence the direction that we are taking as individual and as organisations. Then come the tools, approaches and concepts which play a role to support all the above. There are also the components of an organisation (not matched at individual level) which combine all of this to support the objectives, on the basis of expertise and capabilities.

I tried to make sense of this all in a presentation – an elaboration of an earlier sketch I made during that session.

There are various other elements that should go into a later, more detailed and dynamic presentation but in the meantime, there are still quite a few elements to emphasise, which our conversation stimulated:

  • Our organisations/programmes have different ways to recombine all of this and that’s why a decision-support tool would be great to help assess what are crucial elements.
  • However, all of them need to identify functions that support overall objectives, fit with the components (the rectangle holding lots of symbols), expand the expertise and capabilities of the organisation/programme and interact with the network and organisational culture (voluntarily removed from this version of the graph to keep it simple).
  • The more organisations make use of personal/individual knowledge, know-how, network (and also information produced), the easier it is to develop a strong organisation, even though that is too often under-estimated.
  • We can look at the functions required both in terms of the ideal picture but also looking at what the individuals interviewed to fill those functions provide. That is where the bigger picture and its emphasis on the individual mirror becomes all the more relevant.
  • As much as the network influences the organisation or programme, the culture of that organisation or programme (and the individual values and principles of its staff members) are crucial to unlock the full potential required to have a strong set of comms/KM functions.

This is work in progress… Any reaction at this stage?

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