FAQ Project After Action Review

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What did we intend to do?

Cited from our project proposal:


Our vision is that the FAQ should become an integral and regularly updated aspect of the network’s shared knowledge. This small-scale project will work to review historical forum debates and contributions from the last four-plus years, and synthesise this information into richer knowledge to inform practitioners, project staff, researchers and policy makers of the value of the KM4Dev approach. A working group made up of KM4Dev Core Group members will undertake the substantial work.


KM4Dev users view the FAQ as a distillation of the best available wisdom on knowledge management for development, and use it more frequently.

Activities and Outputs KM4Dev FAQ provides more useful, systematically organised information and provides a route into the KM4Dev forum archives

  • Review of existing archive of forum submissions on KM approaches in development organisations, and build understanding of structure and content of submissions
  • Identify existing frameworks that may be used to structure this information in a meaningful way, with particular attention paid to the different conceptual frameworks that emerge from the archives, and select the most appropriate for use in structuring the FAQ
  • Identify what additional elements enhance the FAQ beyond a simple text question/answer. (For example, people, links, resources, case studies, etc)
  • Develop high-level commentaries on each aspect of the chosen FAQ framework, based on synthesis of the forum debates and existing FAQ material. Develop 8-10 short engaging illustrations of each aspect of the FAQ framework, drawn from the forum debates, that show impressive impact and cover a range of innovative approaches
  • Link these case studies through to the relevant forum contributions
  • Establish process for ongoing updates to the FAQ framework, and present the project the following year at KM4Dev 2006."

And personally:

  • Work on a small team on a project that might ripple out to the community

What actually happened?

Individual and team work

  • We went through all email discussions and listed all the topics that have been discussed on the KM4Dev list
  • We were challenged to download the messages from DGroups into a database for easier searching and manipulation.
  • We developed a template for new FAQs http://www.km4dev.org/wiki/index.php/FAQ_Template
  • Nancy, Lucie and Bellanet have set up a Wiki Site that is hosted on a Bellanet server
  • In a first round, we selected four questions and prepared FAQs based on the content provided

in the email discussions

  • In a second round, we selected another four questions and prepared another four FAQs
  • After the formal round, we started creating FAQs out of current list discussions
  • Some of the FAQ's we took on might have been too big or too dense. There is something to be said for simplicity as the base. It is hard to finish the very dense ones. And hard to be succinct.

Involvement of KM4D community

  • We informed the community about the FAQ project (almost no feedback?)
  • We conducted a survey with SurveyMonkey asking the KM4D members to select most interesting topics and to suggest other topics for FAQs
  • Lucie asked the KM4D members to "Give back to the community" and to summarise discussion threads
  • Frist, we've sent the FAQ on ... for feedbacks to the community
  • Second, we sent the FAQ on capacity building for feedbacks to the community
  • FAQ project will be presented and discussed at the KM4D meeting in Brighton in July 2006
  • Everytime we created a new FAQ out of discussions, we linked to it in the list environment
  • XX people requested user accounts
  • We created the Wiki Cookbook project to introduce wikis in a low pressure environment for those unfamiliar with wikis

Collaboration in the FAQ team

  • During the whole process we regularly held phone conferences, at the beginning with the normal phone, later with Skype; Nancy took notes in the chat window of Skype (Urs: still a miracle for me how she can think, talk, write, and listen at the same time. Must be some early mutant of the future Internet user ;) - Yes, Mutant Nancy
  • We had periods of activity followed by longer stretches of inactivity. It wasn't until we started porting things from the list right into the FAQ that it started to feel like a practice, and less of a short term project.
  • Fun people. Smart people.
  • More opportunity than hours available!


  • Excel table with all email contributions of the KM4D list until October 2005
  • The FAQ on cross-organisational knowledge sharing was presented in the KM4D Journal Vol. 1, No 3 (2005) http://www.km4dev.org/journal/index.php/km4dj/issue/view/5
  • Eight new or completely revised FAQs
  • New emegent FAQs as they evolve from list discussions
  • New KM4Dev Wiki site
  • Assumed that we have some increase in knowledge about and skills with wikis in the community (but perhaps less than we expected.)

What is the difference and why?

  • Not sure yet whether the community really owns the FAQ in terms of improving existing and creating new FAQs
  • Are the commentaries we prepared "high-level" as suggested in our proposal? I think they are of good quality, but high-level is maybe the wrong adjective. The FAQs are consolidated views of the community.
  • Urs: I thought at the beginning we are going to use the KM4Dev website on Xaraya for the FAQs and now we ended up with the Wiki. Why? Because it's better. See my reflections on the process:


  • What has emerged is a mix of more formally constructed FAQs and emergent ones as well. Some are almost definitional and resource based.
  • The ones we did more formally are consolitated views. The emergent ones are more resource oriented, than view/knowledge/opinion oriented

What worked well?

  • The FAQ team!!!
  • I learned a lot about new Internet tools and working in distributed working groups (Urs)
  • We have now eight new FAQs and a few more that were started based on ongoing discussions on the KM4D list
  • Reviewing the email discussion threads and summarising them was interesting and fun.
  • Learning by doing
  • I've actually started to automatically think of copying interesting threads in the wiki!

What didn't work well?

  • The involvement of the community was challenge and it is in my view (Urs) still not sure what will happen with the FAQ in the future
  • Sometimes we were a bit too ambitious with our schedule. Other "more urgent" work distracted us occasionally from the FAQ project
  • It was difficult to easily search and extract from the DGroups archives
  • We had spammers attack the wiki so we had to make it so that you request an account to post. I'm sorry we had to resort to that.
  • Sometimes it was more interesting to work on emergent FAQs than finish the more formal ones. The emergent ones felt more "alive"

What are our recommendations going forward (do same/differently)?

  • Learn before - ask community members and others about their experiences with developing an FAQ at the beginning or make a research on the Internet
  • Learn during - reserve some time in the phone conference / meetings to reflect on the process; note your thoughts and ideas, e.g. by using a blogger tool
  • Learn after - carry out an after action review
  • A core group is necessary to further develop and promotes the FAQ
  • Phone conferences: collect agenda points prior to phone conference; decide who is facilitating the conference, decide on action points and responsibilities, take notes because we forget FAST
  • Consider how formal the template needs to be. I'm not sure if it is a bit intimidating. I'm not sure
  • For community projects, consider a project blog or wiki to record learnings while doings
  • Keep titles short for easy cross referencing/linking
  • Remember to add new FAQs, even in process, to the FAQ Index
  • Use the "discussion" tab for questions
  • Can we get an RSS feed on this wiki?
  • Is it possible to synchronise wikis to the local harddisk?