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How do you pick a knowledge sharing tool or method?contextsign.jpg

With the wealth of available tools and methods, it can be overwhelming to think about which to pick. To help you, we have set up some example contexts, tasks you might need to achieve in those contexts, then suggested some tools and methods. We do this by tagging the tools/methods with key words related to the tasks.



How to use this page

Find a context that most closely represents your needs. These overlap quite a bit, so you may wish to scan down the page first. Then click into that context page and take a look at the tools and methods noted. To see more tools, click on one of the tags - these may be linked to more than the tools and methods listed. You and others can add tags that they think are useful over time.

PLANNING, MONITORING, AND EVALUATION

Strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation may not seem like knowledge sharing activities at first glance. However, participatory interactions that encourage reflection and help project into the future, along with feedback on progress, can be very useful. We know that the old tried and true quantitative evaluation methods are good for accountability purposes, but they can be weak as reflective and learning tools. So if we think learning should be part of what is driving our planning and M&E processes, we could be asking ourselves the following questions:
  • How can we develop a strategic planning process? How can I design a participatory strategic planning exercise? How can I plan, monitor, and evaluate my activities/projects? How can we encourage the reflection process on lessons learned? How can I encourage the sharing of lessons learned in my organization / project?

LISTENING, GATHERING INPUT, STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT

Sometimes we need to stop "talking" and start "listening." We may listen to learn about what is going on or find people interested in the same things we are. Social media tools and knowledge sharing processes allow us to do some amazing listening and monitoring when the topics show up online.
  • What are others saying about our organizations? The work we do? The topics we care about? Who is doing something related to what we are doing and how do we find them and connect to them? How can we make better use of our partners’ and beneficiaries’ experiences? How can I provide spaces for open dialogue with my stakeholders? How can I enhance demand-driven research initiatives and processes?

SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES AND NETWORKS

Knowledge sharing depends on the quality of our relationships, on knowing who does what and might know what, and on finding ways to easily and better connect with like-minded colleagues or stakeholders. When we think about relationships for KS, we might ask:
  • How can we manage and strengthen our networks? How can we forge the kind of lasting, trusting bonds that constitute a community? How do we find and join existing communities and networks, particularly those online?

WORKING, RESEARCHING AND COLLABORATING TOGETHER

Are two (or three, or four,...) heads better than one? It seems that as our world and our work gets more and more complex, we need to make decisions that rely on an increasingly large base of expertise and skills. With organization boundaries blurred by a more organic, networked environment, collaborating - often at a great distance - is becoming a way of life. Likewise, research and innovation involves a myriad of stakeholders, such as researchers, end-users, and policy and decision-makers. Knowledge sharing within research initiatives has the potential to make research much more meaningful for all actors. When looking at enhancing the effectiveness of research initiatives at the planning phase, or the application of research results, and even the longer term sustainability, we might ask:
  • How can we improve relationships and collaboration between regional offices and the HQ? How can we enhance demand-driven research initiatives, processes, and uptake? How can I facilitate effective collaborative practices? How can I support collaboration in geographically dispersed teams? What visual practices can I incorporate when working with groups?

MEETING

When we have a focused task or intention, we get together and meet, be that face to face (F2F) in a room or online. Key to successful meetings are both processes and tools, especially tools for distributed or online meetings. Meetings are usually part of teamwork. When we seek to increase participation, knowledge sharing and ownership of meetings, we can use KS tools and methods to help us both in the planning, running and follow up of meetings. For example, some of the questions we might ask include:
  • How can I have remote or virtual meetings? How can I share results from F2F and/or online meetings with those who could not attend? How can I organize face to face meetings differently? How can I make scientific meetings more engaging and participatory?

CREATING, PUBLISHING AND SHARING CONTENT

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Capturing knowledge seems like the easiest part of the equation, right? We can store our knowledge in databases and on the web and make it available to everyone. But because it is so easy to do, before you know it, you have information overload and cannot see the forest for the trees. Interestingly, although technology may be causing this overload in the first place, it can also be used to combat it. If trying to find better ways of dealing with this situation, we might ask ourselves:
  • How can I easily point to and share digital materials available on the web so they are findable? How do I deal with the huge volume of material that we produce and find on the web? Should we have an intranet? A blog? A wiki?

ADVOCACY

Advocacy involves making people aware of and persuading them of the value of acting on what you care about. This may involve helping leaders make better decisions or influencing policy makers around emerging issues. Core processes are: articulation of an idea, getting the idea to the right person, and enabling them to take action on the idea. Some questions we might ask when we seek to apply KS tools and methods to advocacy might include:
  • How do we make our issues visible to the people we want to reach? How do we get input on our issues from key constituents? How do we make it easy to get people to act on issues and spread the word themselves? How do we use the web to inform our key publics on issues?

LEARNING AND TRAINING

Learning can be anything from formal training and courses, to informal learning from one's social network. We find there is an element of learning in almost everything we do.
  • How can we support or facilitate the adaptation and adoption of research outputs by beneficiaries and stakeholders? How do we do online training? How do we support communities of practice, online and offline? How can people organize their own informal learning opportunities? What tools should we use for online training?

IMPROVING IMPACT THROUGH KNOWLEDGE SHARING IN RESEARCH

Do you work in a research organization, project or program? Despite valuable knowledge generated by research activities, are you still dissatisfied with the level of impact achieved from research activities and research-generated knowledge? The components of the research process all offer an entry point in which knowledge sharing (approaches, methods, tools) can be integrated and used to improve those stages and the process as a whole. Knowledge sharing can offer some support to addressing these problems and improving the way research is carried out towards greater impact.
  • How can we share knowledge, methods, experiences and ideas to help identify research questions? How can we better understand existing knowledge, needs and situations on the ground when planning research activities? How can we better collaborate with and involve stakeholders in research activities? How can we share knowledge generated from the research project? How can we monitor and evaluate our activities so that researchers and other stakeholders can all be involved and learn? How can we manage a research project in a more collaborative way?


References:

http://www.gtz.de/en/themen/laendliche-entwicklung/15081.htm
*Knowledge Management*, as a systematic and institutionalised approach in Development Cooperation, is essential. This AGRISERVICE Bulletin looks at the theory and current practice of Knowledge Management for rural areas in development institutions, in projects and programmes, in emerging farmers? organisations, and at the knowledge flow between these bodies.

Photo Credits:
Image by carf (child)