18 participants - of which 8 new members) came over to the ninth gathering of KM4Dev Addis/Ethiopia on 10 January 2014.

The gathering covered two topics:

  • A presentation about KM in event management (by Elshadai Negash)
  • A peer-assist case by Adrian Young about a KM audit questionnaire (Adrian Young)

However, beforehand the participants brainstormed, in groups, what could be interesting topics for discussion...

These are the topics that were mentioned in that brainstorm session:

  • Tacit knowledge
  • Organisational learning
  • Real impact of KM on organisations (with examples)
  • How to convince organisations to invest in KM
  • What are different 'facets' of KM?
  • KM basics
  • KM tools
  • How document management relates to KM
  • Best practices on KM
  • Best experiences in Ethiopia on KM
  • Best strategies to bring KM
  • Experience sharing with similar projects on challenges of KM implementation
  • Introducing KM to local institutions?
  • How to influence scientists to share their findings
  • KM and value chains / ICT
  • How to bring the positive culture in KM?
  • KM for project management

At the end of the gathering, the participants prioritised the key topics (mentioned in bold above) for the next meetings.

Presentation about 'KM in event management' (Elshadai Negash)

See the presentation by Elshadai Negash (upcoming)

  • Q: How successful is the organisation at KM?
  • A: OGKM has been there for 13 years. KM in certain organisations is very new. Successes on many fronts: formalising procedures, creating technical manuals (originally difficult and then it was too much information). Where to find specific information that is required? From a PDF document this moved on to a wiki-type site which is more search-friendly…
  • Q: What were critics of the program?
  • A: Not enough sharing, costs of the program. Slight reduction of costs from Beijing to London…
  • Q: What is the difference between tacit and explicit?
  • A: Explicit is what is codified as information in documents etc. Tacit is difficult to put the finger on. In this case it’s all the knowledge sharing programs…
  • Q: What are mechanisms for sharing the learning? Which ones are used to share officially or unofficially?
  • A: Formal mechanisms include project reports, OGKM extranet (Sharepoint) which contains the knowledge map (providing road map of functional requirements over a period of time); among tacit ones, the observer programme to visit the venue etc.; secondment…
  • Q: What were outstanding challenges in this process?
  • A: The cross-cultural challenge (e.g. London learning from Beijing and the latter not being open to sharing much, likewise from London to Sotchi). Much negotiation needed. The host city contract is signed between the IOC and organisers and KM is essential in this. The problem is all about sharing knowledge willingly. The big challenge, aside from the formal obligation (10-15% of ToR of staff cover KM) is the ability to empower people to share knowledge…  Big cost factor is in the venue.
  • Q: Does the commercial nature of KM influence the efficiency?

A: It’s in the commercial interest of everyone. So yes. It takes a lot of disciplined work to quality check all the project reports and improve over time. Once that is there the commercial interests are important.

Peer-assist about a KM audit questionnaire (Adrian Young)

Objectives of this peer assist: is a KM audit a good approach? Getting some feedback for that questionnaire? Adrian had shared a draft KM audit questionnaire online prior to the gathering.

Clarification questions:

  • Q: Who are you expecting will complete this questionnaire?
  • A: It's targeted at researchers in the organisation, and some support staff as they are involved in the KM space
  • Q: What's the reason behind having KM in the organisation?
  • A: I was asked to develop a database to manage their research. A database is a solution but we need to make sure we understand the context first... 
  • Q: The website is not operational? What is the ICT you need to support your objectives?
  • A: It's sometimes offline but I'm not sure why. It covers only a minimal amount of research outputs. The ICT needs are unclear. The ICT unit covers mostly making sure that people have a PC etc.
  • Q: What is the status of KM in the organisation?
  • A: In the FRC there is no specific KM happening. The organisation focuses primarily onto hardcopy and has not really jumped into softcopy. At head office there's a team working on comms/KM but they don't work closely with this unit. We need some autonomy in the FRC too. 
  • Q: There is no KM strategy and this is a study to go to that stage, is that correct? Do you intend to assess the attitude of researchers/staff about KM and its importance?
  • A: Yes - the question is whether they need a strategy or not. The questionnaire is also addressing this.
  • Q: No shared folder etc. all these things are related to the infrastructure... Do you focus on the current infrastructure? 
  • A: That's a question that is unclear - is that sthg I should focus on for now (e.g. basic systems in place).
  • Q: You have some understanding of the constraints - did you map the most needed knowledge?
  • A: Not yet - I've looked at the (good) technical knowledge of the research staff. The main issue is with sharing it.
  • Q: What was your expectation before you started your job and did you learn anything from the whole thing re: KM so far?
  • A: I've tried to not have too many expectations because historically the volunteer program staff found a different situation to what they expected. I thought I would be working more closely with the researchers but I'm working more on data and knowledge management... 
  • Q: How long did it take for you to prepare the questionnaire etc.?
  • A: I've been working on various things. It's taken 6 months to learn about the organisational context but the questionnaire itself only took a few days to prepare a draft.
  • Q: How do you evaluate the pain of the senior management for not having KM? 
  • A: (subjective opinion) there is an appreciation of the need to improve management systems among researchers to see sthg that will support their work but they probably don't realise what their role is and how they will do sthg in this KM approach. There's an educational component in this.
  • Q: What do you think the best KM program structure (people, technology, process) could be and how do you implement this in the organisation? How do you balance these elements?
  • A: This is part of the feedback I'm hoping to get...
  • Q: They asked you to develop a database system - is that your background? What is your background?
  • A: I'm not really a database expert. I've worked in various types of organisations and have learnt about how they work. I worked in a gov't department etc. and I'm learning on the job.
  • Q: Have you identified the things that you'd like to develop based on the audit? It all depends on what you aim to achieve? What's the output of this process?
  • A: I want to have a knowledge map / information management map about what people are currently doing with their research outputs, who's sharing what etc. The org'l strategy relates to KM... I want to see if we want to build sthg new or play with existing stuff.
  • Q: How many people are working in that organisation now?
  • A: 30 researchers + 5-10 other staff that will/may be involved in the KM audit for reporting, ICT, library etc.
  • Q: Are you going to develop a database anyway?
  • A: Am I? I'm not sure I have the  capacity to do it. I'm already working on another database for another project. If that's the most important thing yes. Ideally I would get sthg set up.
  • Q: Do you have the KM maturity model software for organisations in order to evaluate the knowledge of your organisation? 
  • A: No... 
  • Q: After collecting information from the questionnaires, will you produce a document that will be used as a reference for use in the departments?
  • A: I will do a draft report and will present any results as a workshop to discuss the findings etc. and then write the final report... 

Suggestions for improvement:

  • Visit knowledge audit reports/instruments to get 2 things: a) a picture of what could be generated from a knowledge audit and b) see the structure and elements that are part of it, the components etc. the framework.
  •  Take care of the basics: if there is a plan to create a series of network guides, get the website up and running, make sure you have the data components... After that you can talk about KM. It sounds a bit too early. Your effort is very good.
  • Get an inventory of what's there and what's not there including infrastructure (strengths and weaknesses) and the human resource capacities and you could organise an informal meeting to take care of this - when you make it participatory you make it more obvious for them. 
  • Make them understand KM a bit more... Involve them from the beginning on... 
  • Focus on the infrastructures that are there and what you can do with e.g. shared drives etc. and the capacity.
  • Conduct an assessment of KM in general, how it's captured, shared, applied and where are the gaps. From strategic to operational level. 
  • Try to get the management's full attention and engagement because they are the source of the budget, strategy etc. Then they will back you.
  • Differentiate the questionnaire in 2: for management and for experts. They answer different questions/issues... 
  • How to apply KM in the institute with less infrastructure? Try to convince them about the short term benefits.
  • In taking care of the basics, make sure that the drives are there, that the infostructure is running etc. The other part though is the culture through e.g. in-house forums, brown bag lunches and some informal things to break tensions between sections e.g. a football team etc. to go beyond their function... 
  • Present findings to the management as 'people want / need this' and make use of existing infrastructures e.g. with ICRAF. 
  • People use mobile phones these days to browse information - it could be an option.
  • Considering your ultimate objectives, 
  • Explore existing knowledge assets
  • The big matter is 'culture'. Study the culture. 
  • In implementing, select pilot projects. 
  • First have your strategic document as a baseline, know your stakeholders... Put your question with respect to the 6 KM processes (creation, sharing, storage, security etc.).
  • At INSA we have KM hardware, software... focus on the culture.
  • Organise training on the tools...

What Adrian will do about this feedback:

Great feedback. Good to hear I'm on track generally

  • Inventory idea is good - I have to draw sthg out of the audit questionnaire to address existing infrastructure, capacity etc.
  • I'm not sure about the level of confidence to apply the ideas and convince staff about using some of these ideas.
  • Some of the basics can be put aside the ICT staff and we can formalise some of the ICT practices e.g. more regular workshops to be recognised as a core part of their responsibility. 
  • Getting management on board. Having a new director soon will be a good opportunity.
  • Differentiating the questionnaire would be good. I might have to set up a separate survey.
  • The cultural aspects are sthg I hope to learn more from through the questionnaire and I think I'll do the questionnaire as an interview... Get better quality... 
  • Cooperation with other organisations: yes I considered that and D-Space is sthg I could potentially utilise based on the ILRI and wider community.
  • Pilot projects are a very good idea... 
  • Strategy doc is a question mark - how much time do you get a strategy developed etc. as opposed to launching pilot projects.

Volunteers to review the KM audit:

  • Seble Lemma;
  • Sara Seyoum;
  • Gashaw Kebede;
  • Yared Lemma;
  • Liesbeth Bastemeijer (on the writing);

Feedback from Yodith about her peer assist case on the PNSP strategy: 

  • I focused on the business case for this;
  • The joint government-donor decision-making process has agreed to have a task team to review the existing comms strategy that was never implemented. They're going to set it up with a view to systematising it;
  • A working group is paying attention to M&E, investment in ICT, training, tracking progress beyond the level of outputs - they're acting on this and on the transformation of data, M&E etc. to inform decisions.
  • On the other hand we didn't receive any feedback from major stakeholders. 

Our organisation is a member of a working group and we tried to influence this working group. Based on the ideas we gathered more information - we did a presentation also to the program owners.

Next gathering

The next gathering will take place on Friday 9 May from 2 to 5pm on the ILRI campus.

Possible topics (partly based on the prioritisation mentioned above) might include:

  • Organisational learning and KM (Tigist Endashaw)
  • KM of social media (Elshadai Negash)
  • KM basics (Sara Seyoum)
  • UNICEF's 'communication for development' approach (UNICEF)
  • A (possible) peer assist case about taking up the communication/KM lead of the Nile Basin Development Challenge program (Aberra Adie)
  • 'KM at IIED' (presentation by Seble Lemma)
  • Follow up / feedback from the peer assist on the KM audit survey (Adrian Young)
  • How to work on comms/KM without internet, as is the case (Frehiwot Yilma)
  • How to move away from tacit knowledge (PNSP peer assist by Etsegenet)

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