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== Knowledge for Development?==
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{{Discussion - Header}}
 
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{{Discussion - Side Box
== Introduction ==
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|type=FAQ
 
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|topics=KM and KS in General, Knowledge and International Development
Manuel Flury of SDC posted the M4Dev list: 
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|keywords=km literature,
 
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|africa=No
Dear friends,
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|america=No
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|asia=No
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|europe=No
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|latin america=No
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}}
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{{Discussion - Original Message
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|posted by=Manuel Flury
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|posted on=2001/11/01
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|message=Dear friends,
  
 
The recently published book edited by Kenneth King and Simon McGrath
 
The recently published book edited by Kenneth King and Simon McGrath
Line 17: Line 25:
  
 
Link to the text of [[Focus on Knowledge No 5]]
 
Link to the text of [[Focus on Knowledge No 5]]
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}}
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{{Discussion - Contributors}}
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{{Discussion - Related Discussion
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|related discussion=Difference between IM and KM
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}}
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{{Discussion - Related Discussion
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|related discussion=What is IM?
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}}
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{{Discussion - Related Discussion
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|related discussion=What is KM? A fad, faith, or fact?
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}}
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=== Definition ===
  
== Keywords ==
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"Knowledge management (KM) is an interdisciplinary field with its roots in business management, psychology, librarianship and information science and information technology. It is founded on IM which provides the architecture of knowledge. Its focus is on knowledge as a resource with an emphasis on connection, application and meaning making.  
Development, knowledge managment, knowledge
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== Detailed Description  ==
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[[What is KM?]]
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Knowledge management makes sense of information in the context of it's users. Practioners summarize, contextualize, value-judge, rank, synthesize, edit and facilitate to make information and knowledge accessible between people, either within or outside their organization. It concerns itself with the social interactions around the sharing and use of knowledge. KM is largely based on tacit interpretation and less on rules. Some question if knowledge can be "managed" at all. KM has often been framed in terms of knowledge in action for an end purpose.  KM implies that the most important drivers relate to human behavior and interchange.
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[[What is Development?]]
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The goal of international development is to alleviate poverty among citizens of developing countries. International development is a multidisciplinary field that may impact poverty reduction, governance, healthcare, education, crisis prevention and recovery, and economic restructuring.
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International development is distinct from disaster relief or humanitarian aid. The latter is a response to a specific crisis that generally involves temporary manpower or donations. Development, on the other hand, is intended as a long-term solution to a set of problems or situations. It may incorporate a single tranformative project or a series of projects targeted at several aspects of society in the developing nation.
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One illustration of the spirit of international development comes from a speech by Harry S. Truman in 1949:
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"We must embark on a bold new program from making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. The old imperialism - exploitation for foreign profit - has no place in our plans. What we envision is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair dealing."
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International development is looked upon by some, especially conservative thinkers, as an obligation of developed countries towards developing countries as a way to alleviate the economic inequalities.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_development
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== KM4Dev Discussions ==
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Other agencies were provoked and challenged – and suggested a number of solutions to the “our house” vs “the South” debate. One was to explore how to become a knowledge brokers – and whether this role could  achieve development efforts. DFID, the Bank and other agencies all agreed that this was vital – in fact, the Bank had it confirmed from the results of an OED evaluation (http://www.worldbank.org/oed/knowledge_evaluation/).
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How should this happen? The King report was seen as falling short of making recommendations. Elsewhere, building trust and creating communities which cut across the organisational boundaries and focus on external knowledge was seen as vital. (The more successful thematic groups in the World Bank in the late 90s saw external members as predominant.)
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The difficulty of setting up internal networks with external inputs was highlighted, and the issue of power inequalities were touched upon. One fascinating scenario was raised: imagine a future where a major donor has no money to spend, except to pay staff costs and limited travel. Would its work continue to be valuable? Would its relationships with its former 'beneficiaries' change - would they stop listening? If this were the case, would the relationship between North and South would become more about persuasion and real value added? This was contrasted with experience that communities in fact listen very hard to those that help them to connect up, clarify their identity, define their purpose, show the potential of "all of us are better than any of us" and help the members to meet face to face on a regular basis. The cost-effectiveness of this approach was also highlighted – small funds could go far. The key was to shift from a community of practice, to a community of purpose. The latter requires some leadership and financial commitment. Overall, the approach that the "development organisation knows best" was seen to lead to solutions that don't work because “they are imposed on those who are supposed to be grateful”. Practical benefits were also stressed in this debate. Communities, in the final analysis, exist in order to help the individual members perform better and deliver their day to day work, not for some theoretical or political reason.
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Partnerships were another solution, although admittedly a somewhat utopian one. At the heart of the partnership model was the idea that the “them and us“ model was seen as flawed, and agencies should not be competing in the same realms of knowledge due to funding incentives. To alleviate this, the role of KM practitioners was to focus on organizational change, shifting organisations towards boundary-spanning partnerships, and building staff capacity to operationalise such partnerships, utilising KM tools to maximise benefits to all parties.
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But problems clearly remain. Senior management perceptions was a key one – they often saw  knowledge-based work as being driven by websites and systems – despite their miserable track record in the development sector and more widely. With all communities, two key issues are how to cover the cost implications of face-to-face sharing, and how to manage the size of global communities. Mark Hammersley's Aid Workers Network (AWN) was cited as an excellent example, of how connections could be made between Southern partners, and a model whereby the northern agencies facilitate the exchange of southern knowledge.
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A specific critique was made of the lack of Bank staff participation in Bank-hosted e-discussions. The response to this was useful not just in terms of the Bank, but many other agencies too. The reasons for not responding were cited as follows: (1) fear of official misrepresentation and quotes being used out of context (2) fear of intellectual inferiority, due to the intimidating nature of e-discussions (3) staff don't think that e-discussions are a productive use of their time - if you don't participate in an e-discussion you're not going to miss a promotion (4) many of the e-discussions the Bank holds are to hear what others have to say. It is worth noting that these reasons for a lack of Bank participation in e-discussions are applicable more widely to justify not participating in KM approaches. The role of managers were seen as key, and an example of a community which is so fundamental to an organisation that if individual staff members are seen to be not participating, then
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they receive an email from the CEO that says something along the lines of "I notice you have not been contributing to our community discussions lately, how can I help you to do this more?" A couple of tools for assessing community participation were suggested.
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One respondent denied that the internal to external perspective was an opposition, and argued that this process followed many successful agency initiatives. Moreover, the complementary nature of these dimensions was key. A consultant chipped in with the call for greater clarity on the “business need” – did the aid business need stronger donors or empowered Southern partners? The "business" need must be clear before the appropriate knowledge management approaches can be put in place. In some agencies, this was articulated in a strong desire to work from both ends towards the middle somehow.
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The Bank 2001 strategy was raised because of its three overlapping focus areas of (i) Sharing knowledge within the Bank, (ii) Sharing knowledge with our clients, and (iii) Learning from our clients and partners, which recognises the essential complementary nature of the internal and the external dimensions of knowledge. (link to 2001 strategy).
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The contrast between the two areas was also argued for in other ways – that the external aspects of knowledge sharing was in fact a subset of the internal aspects. A third area was also cited, around how external Southern organisations become better at using KM approaches to enhance effectiveness. From this perspective, a strategy to enhance
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KM/KS for internal organisational effectiveness is not a bad place to start, as a means of 'testing ideas and theory’. King and McGrath were seen as being overly critical of internal efforts in knowledge management, especially as focusing on Southern knowledge required a culture change that could only come about internally.
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The idea of knowledge that is “pushed” or “pulled” was seen as a problematic one. Part of the challenge comes from the idea of knowledge as something that's pushed or pulled in the first place. Knowledge is useful because of its ability to solve problems, but the ability to analyse issues was seen as more important than the availability of "best practices" or someone else's "knowledge". Development effectiveness and political does not automatically emanate from the availability of knowledge, whether this is from the North or the South. Building peer relationships rather than donor-recipient relationships was seen as vital, but it was highlighted that this applied across all of an agencies operations, not just in the knowledge field.
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The importance of promoting knowledge and learning at 5 different levels which were pertinent to aid agencies was raised – individuals, groups, organisations, partnerships, and political, legal and socio-economic frameworks. No easy task!
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Within agencies, knowledge brokerage was seen as potentially hampered by the thematic focus as opposed to the geographic focus.  
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Practitioners summarize, contextualize, value-judge, rank, synthesize, edit and facilitate to make information and knowledge accessible to a target audience, either within or outside their organization. Fundamental concepts include social learning, organizational learning and best practices. KM is largely based on tacit interpretation and less on rules. Networks, online communities, yellow pages, intranets and extranets, and websites are KM tools. Techniques commonly used by KM practitioners include After Action Reviews, story telling, and Open Space.  Some suggest it is synonymous with knowledge sharing. Others question if knowledge can be "managed" at all." - Sarah Cummings on the KM4Dev list, Oct 2005
  
Incentives were raised in an intriguing point about the UK, where Freedom of Information legislation means all files become available for public viewing – even emails and personal files! These drives for greater transparency are threatening to make DFID much more accountable for its knowledge processes. Another point was related to core function s – the example of the Bank’s lending services strengthening its knowledge services (in China) was cited. The potential of KM for development was that it has the potential of really changing the way agencies “do business” with clients, and points towards a much more effective "development partnership model", as opposed to "development assistance model."
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Steve Denning's description of KM as being "a different way of doing the organisation's business".
  
Staying on the incentives point, to what extent do agency staff actually actively want to learn? What incentivises this? Even on the internal side of KM, agencies may have been far too supply driven to date and not paid nearly enough attention to why and when people desire to learn. The issue for time and availability was seen as such a frequent problem, that it may simply be “accepted wisdom”  - and one participant pointed to the possibility of the “un-learning organisation”.  
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Central to the definition of KM is the understanding of the term "knowledge:"
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Knowledge is "information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection. It is a high-valueform of information that is ready to apply to decisions and actions." T. Davenport et al., 1998
  
What makes people learn in the development context? Humour - a lot of development-related is presented in a very dry manner, and audiences have not been considered. De-familiarisation - whereby old ideas resurface in new ways (for example, participation re-emerging as part of KM). Timeliness/Opportunism - a big promotion board is looming where everyone has to show how they share knowledge, time to launch a knowledge management workshop. Connections/Camaraderie - people are often isolated and want to belong, connecting them is a useful precursor for their learning from each other. What’s in it for me - Make them pay for what they want by getting smarter - learning requires change = justifiable pain. Time - find ways to give people back some time and space to learn Where are people going? what do people want to learn themselves regardless of what you are promoting?
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"Explicit or codified knowledge refers to knowledge that is transmittable in formal, systematic language. On the other hand, tacit knowledge has a personal quality, which makes it hard to formalize and communicate." I. Nonaka, 1994
  
The discussion broadened out at points to look at how to get open knowledge systems (gear to users current behaviours, tap the power of gossip).
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=== Discussion ===
  
== Related FAQs ==
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KM for us must also relate to some sort of purpose, not just personal fulfilment. Personal fulfilment, career goals, and other individual drivers are key elements of promoting knowledge sharing, but for me what makes for activities where knowledge is shared and has a true impact is the quality of the underlying strategic vision. This vision can be individual (increasing rice production, etc.), internal/corporate (making sure that HR or monitoring systems are more effective) or external/corporate (making sure that donor programs meet their objectives more effectively, etc.). But without strategic purpose, and an understanding of what success implies, the best KM/IM effort is a waste of time.This of course makes cost-benefit of KM a complex concept; first cost is only marginally dependent on IM choice and second benefit can range wildly; a poorly defined result can make a cheap, share-ware driven approach seem highly exorbitant; a costly system that effectively meets a clear need that has high value can be a powerful investment.Helping KM folk to define the prize, as well as ways to keep one's eye on it, is a topic deserving of considerably more work. [Tony Pryor]
[[Partnerships...]]
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[[Southern institutions...]]
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=== History ===
  
[[Cross-organisational learning...]]
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I am working with the Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP), a USAID program run by the Academy for Educational Development. Jaap Pels from IRC and I have been developing a knowledge management strategy for the project. Here is how we have tried to define the three generations or iterations of KM:
  
== Further Information ==
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The concept of KM has evolved over time and can be characterized by three distinct iterations:
'''Some key contacts on KM in Development:'''
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* Kenneth King
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* Bruno La Porte
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* Manuel Flury
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'''Links & Web Based Articles'''
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* '''1st Generation''', the 'stock' approach, focuses on delivering the right information to the right place at the right time. Information is central and is "pushed" (explicit knowledge) to potential users and knowledge is perceived as a thing or object. Using IT systems in work processes - concept during the 1990s when knowledge management emerged as field of practice. Focused on capturing data, information and experience to be easily accessible. Rooted in, and usually driven by, technology. Tended to deal with the development of sophisticated data sets and retrieval systems without a primary focus on their use. Heavy investments made in technological fixes with little impact on way in which knowledge was used.
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* ''' 2nd Generation''', the 'flow' approach, recognizes that knowledge flows between people, be it explicit (information) or implicit (socialization/internalization ). Knowledge sharing here requires actors to seek out information proactively and to use it rather than waiting for it to appear. Thus the flow approach emphasizes the need for both "push" and "pull" processes. Evolved from understanding of the theoretical and practical failure of first generation knowledge management. Based on a clearer understanding of how knowledge is created and shared. Gives priority to the way in which people construct and use knowledge, which is closely related to organizational learning. Key issues in current knowledge management practice therefore include measuring and accelerating culture shifts, integrating knowledge sharing with learning, streamlining organizational structures to launch knowledge sharing programmes, strengthening communities of practice and improving technology tools for these purposes.
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* '''3rd Generation''' , knowledge is organic, fluid, almost living, thing; and is closely related to its context. Because knowledge created through dialogue is best, knowledge management that deliberately challenges existing structures and information flows helps new patterns, insights and new knowledge to emerge. " is emerging and which in addition to the foci of 2nd generation, also includes a major emphasis on engaging clients/target audiences/stakeholders as early in the knowledge cycle as possible. I am not sure if you have seen Steve Waddell's recent book on Societal Learning and Change, but I believe this is the way development agencies should move, and has an emphasis on this element. Key thinking in third generation KM: David Snowden
  
Articles and books:
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=== Background ===
  
* David Snowden [ed] Virtual Collaborative Environments
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Book excerpt where Snowden sets up his definitions of third generation KM: [http://www.kwork.org/Book/Order.pdf]
  
* The Knowledge Management Puzzle :Human and Social factors in Knowledge Management
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Discussion springboard and summary where a lot of this was hashed out in a community interested in KM: Third Generation KM: Separating Content, Narrative, Context [http://www.kwork.org/Stars/snowden.html]
http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/404/thomas.html
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(Jerry Ash of AOK of the subesequent discussion [http://www.kwork.org/Stars/snowden_part1.html])
  
* King, Kenneth, 'Knowledge sharing in development agencies: lessons from four cases', presented at the KM4DEV workshop in The Hague [http://open.bellanet.org/km/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=31] There you find the workshop outputs. Just click on Kenneth King's name and you find his study.
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The first generation of knowledge management is the period prior to 1995. Here "knowledge" as a word is not        problematic, it is used without conscious thought and the focus is on information flow to support decision makers. Executive Information Systems, Data Warehousing and Process re-engineering dominate this period.
  
* Forss, Kim  et al, "Organisational Learning in Development Co-operation: How Knowledge is Generated and Used", by Kim Forss, Basil Cracknell and Nelly Stromquist; EGDI Working Paper 1998:3  (The  EGDI Working Papers can be ordered via egdi.secretariatforeign.ministry.se)
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In 1995 Nonaka and Takeuchi publish the Knowledge Creating Company and for the first time on common business language the words tacit and explicit are introduced, although Polanyi had explored the subject in more depth in the 1940's. This publication with its SECI model defining four transition states of tacit-to-tacit, tacit-to-explicit, explicit-to-explicit and explicit-to-tacit proved decisive and was broadly taken up by consultants and software vendors, both groups seeking to drive revenue through the rapid growth of collaborative technologies.
  
* Dietvorst, Cor,Making Knowledge Networks Work for the Poor workshop - the World Summit on the Information Society  [http://www.itdg.org/?id=knowledge] (This document that collects and categorises major issues and recommendations related to information and knowledge management (IM/KM) that have appeared in recent international conferences and meetings both in the water sector)
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The pioneering work of practitioners such as Buckman, Edvinsson, Lank, Saint-Onge and Ward amongst others, provided legitimacy and the second generation with its emphasis on conversation of tacit to explicit was born. For second generation thinkers and practitioners, most notably in central Europe, Probst and his collaborators, the function of knowledge management is to convert private assets into public assets, though the extraction of that knowledge into codified form. I have argued elsewhere (Snowden 2000a) that this approach unnecessarily focuses on the container rather than the thing contained, and this view has been strengthened by the increasing
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recognition by practitioners that there is much tacit knowledge that either cannot, or should not, be made explicit.
  
* Examples of World Bank innovations can be found at:
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As we move into the third millennium we see a new approach emerging in which we focus not on the management of knowledge as a "thing" which can be identified and catalogued, but on the management of the ecology of knowledge. Here the emphasis is not on the organisation as a machine with the manager occupying the role of Engineer, but on the organisation as a complex ecology in which the manager is a gardener,
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able to direct and influence, but not fully control the evolution of his or her environment. We are also seeing a refreshing move away from programmes which seem to manage knowledge for its own sake, to those that tightly couple knowledge management with both strategic and, critically, operational priorities.
  
http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/eca/knowledgefair.nsf/ecadocbyunid/99106C0412EE60E485256E360070455E?Opendocument&Start=1&Count=5
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"''I always know more than I can say, even after I have said it, and I can always say more than I can write down''."
  
http://www.worldbank.org/ks/r-stories.html
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This is one of the basic operating principles of knowledge management, regrettably not fully understood in the second generation. The process of moving from my head, to my mouth to my hands inevitably involves some loss of content, and frequently involves a massive loss of context. Once we recognise this we can start to rethink the nature of knowledge management. Most second-generation approaches are to all intents and purposes content management; they focus on documents containing structured and reflective knowledge that is disconnected from the knowledge holder, diffuses easily and is formal structured.
  
* An innovative fractal community for the humanitarian sector:
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What we can say and what we know are respectively covered by Narrative and Context Management. Context management in contrast focuses on connecting and linking people through, for example, expertise location, social network simulation, apprentice models of knowledge transfer and the retention strategies for key staff. Managing context involves the recognition that knowledge cannot be disembodied from human agency either as giver or receiver, content is the exact opposite. Context Management takes control of what we know, but cannot fully say or write down. Content Management organises that which can be written.
  
http://www.aidworkers.net
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Narrative Management lies somewhere between the two and is the focus of this chapter, it manages what we can say in conversation and in declamation, it is also cheaper and less onerous as task to capture than written knowledge and its use is closer to the natural patterns of knowledge acquisition in organisations because:
  
* CommKit  - an affordable (for NGOs, NFPs and other famously budget limited  bodies) next generation community platform that has been designed to take into account psychology and behaviour:
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- it is easier and less onerous to capture, because I can record to a video camera in ten minutes what it will otherwise take two weeks to get round to spending a hour or so writing up;
  
http://www.commkit.com
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- it is a natural process, in that when we face a new task, or encounter a problem we go and find people to talk to, to ask questions to provide context sensitive answers and advice that cannot be provided by past project reviews and idealised statements of best practice.
  
* The IBM Babble interface and is basically a circle with blobs in it - depending on how active you are within a discussion your blob (representing you) moves closer to the centre of the circle. You can see dozens of discussions in this kind of schema at the same time and instantly see where a discussion is lively (lots of blobs in the middle) and where it isn't (lots of blobs on the periphery), who is being active and who is 'lurking', equally you can track how active people are in discussions over a period of time, and could use this for performance purposes. You'd need to combine this with a rating mechanism a la Amazon or something like Ask-Me http://www.askmecorp.com/) where other participants could rank how well they thought of your input
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The separation of context, narrative and content management in third generation approaches in turn makes each more effective. By understanding the imitations and capabilities of each medium -- head, mouth and hands -- we make each more effective and the combination of the whole is accordingly greater than the sum of the parts.
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Here is an article that comes at KM from a slightly different perspective and made me rethink what I thought about the distinctions between IM and KM. ;-) It reminds me I should always be happy to revisit my assumptions! I'm not sure I quickly agree with all David says in this essay, but it is provocative "food for thought!" And if you agreed with his proposition, it could radically change one's approach to KM.
  
* Wikipedia definitions of knowledge management
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=== Major Components ===
  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management
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* '''Improving access to information and knowledge''' - covering the availability, accessibility and affordability of information (especially of scientific information in developing countries)
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* '''Promoting knowledge sharing''', through learning circles and vertical/horizontal coalitions, peer-to-peer technology, communities of practice, "infomediaries", help-desks, e-learning and better interaction/mutual learning with target groups (the poor).  
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* '''Networking''': international and regional cooperation - covering networking models, "digital solidarity", collaboration tools like portals and common terminology (thesaurus), social network analysis, network effectiveness, strengthening existing structures and Resource Centres.  
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* '''Measuring KM activities'''
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* '''Applications of ICTs'''
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* '''Enabling organizational environments for KM'''
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* Ethical application of KM
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* '''Cultural, language contexts in global settings'''
  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KM_concepts
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=== Examples of KM Practices ===
  
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*Knowledge Assets
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** Human: People, Interactions, Community
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** Structural: Processes, Systems, Infrastructure
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** Intangible: Culture, Trust, Learning
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*Action-Reflection
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** Stakeholder Analysis: What worked? What did not? Why?
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** Synthesis & Capture: Lessons Learned, Comparative Experiences, Best Practices
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*Content Management
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** Content types and templates (formats)
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** Business process integration: Inputs/Outputs, Content life-cycle
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** Organization and access: Content Management Systems, Taxonomy (classification), Search engines
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*Communities of Practice: Connecting People (CoP):
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** Common interests
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** Complementary experience and expertise
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** Strategic & goal oriented (i.e. Practices)
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** Sharing culture & trust
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** Collaboration tools : Online/e-mail, Face-to-face
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* Storytelling: Communicating experiences
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** Springboard stories
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** Visual and compelling
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** Easy to remember
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** Evocative
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** Resonate
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* Knowledge-enabled Business Processes
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** How you work
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** Standardization & Efficiency
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** Knowledge inputs/outputs
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* Organizational Learning
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** Integrated learning opportunities
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** Learn while doing
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** Learning support systems
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** Incentive structures
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** T-shaped competency profiles
  
If anyone wants to find out more on Babble there's a good article in IBMs System's Journal Vol 40, No.4 2001 page 783-4 that goes through this and shows the interface.
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=== Development Context ===
  
== Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of This FAQ ==
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In a development context, KM is concerned to facilitate exchange and cross-fertilization by providing access to knowledge both within and outside the organization. In international settings, language, culture, communication and dissemination channels add additional complexity to the task of KM.
[[Ben Ramalingam]]
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== Date first offered/Revisions ==
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=== Resources ===
November 21, 2005
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==  FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials ==
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From http://www.marketingprofs.com/ea/qst_question.asp?qstid=7948: KNOWLEDGE is the conclusions one derives from information. It's the extension of various pieces of data to develop something new and different. For instance, data or information is historical sales figures for various regions of the world. The process of creating knowledge is to analyze that data, develop trend and seasonality models, and then building your distribution and production capabilities and policies to support the model with the right inventory of products in the right place, thus optimizing inventory costs and increasing company profits. The knowledge is the KNOW-HOW of looking at the data in the right way and then knowing about manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and company profit calculation and defining the inventory levels and distribution to optimize costs and profit.
[[KM in Development Raw Background Notes]]
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Latest revision as of 14:19, 18 February 2012


Original Message

From: Manuel Flury, posted on 2001/11/01

Dear friends,

The recently published book edited by Kenneth King and Simon McGrath ("Knowledge for Development?" Comparing British, Japanese and World Bank Aid) has raised our interest within SDC. We have circulated a summary of main statements and questions for further internal discussions. Lucie encouraged me to share this piece with you! Here it is.

With my best regards

Manuel Flury

Link to the text of Focus on Knowledge No 5

Contributors

All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Related Discussions

Definition

"Knowledge management (KM) is an interdisciplinary field with its roots in business management, psychology, librarianship and information science and information technology. It is founded on IM which provides the architecture of knowledge. Its focus is on knowledge as a resource with an emphasis on connection, application and meaning making.

Practitioners summarize, contextualize, value-judge, rank, synthesize, edit and facilitate to make information and knowledge accessible to a target audience, either within or outside their organization. Fundamental concepts include social learning, organizational learning and best practices. KM is largely based on tacit interpretation and less on rules. Networks, online communities, yellow pages, intranets and extranets, and websites are KM tools. Techniques commonly used by KM practitioners include After Action Reviews, story telling, and Open Space. Some suggest it is synonymous with knowledge sharing. Others question if knowledge can be "managed" at all." - Sarah Cummings on the KM4Dev list, Oct 2005

Steve Denning's description of KM as being "a different way of doing the organisation's business".

Central to the definition of KM is the understanding of the term "knowledge:" Knowledge is "information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection. It is a high-valueform of information that is ready to apply to decisions and actions." T. Davenport et al., 1998

"Explicit or codified knowledge refers to knowledge that is transmittable in formal, systematic language. On the other hand, tacit knowledge has a personal quality, which makes it hard to formalize and communicate." I. Nonaka, 1994

Discussion

KM for us must also relate to some sort of purpose, not just personal fulfilment. Personal fulfilment, career goals, and other individual drivers are key elements of promoting knowledge sharing, but for me what makes for activities where knowledge is shared and has a true impact is the quality of the underlying strategic vision. This vision can be individual (increasing rice production, etc.), internal/corporate (making sure that HR or monitoring systems are more effective) or external/corporate (making sure that donor programs meet their objectives more effectively, etc.). But without strategic purpose, and an understanding of what success implies, the best KM/IM effort is a waste of time.This of course makes cost-benefit of KM a complex concept; first cost is only marginally dependent on IM choice and second benefit can range wildly; a poorly defined result can make a cheap, share-ware driven approach seem highly exorbitant; a costly system that effectively meets a clear need that has high value can be a powerful investment.Helping KM folk to define the prize, as well as ways to keep one's eye on it, is a topic deserving of considerably more work. [Tony Pryor]

History

I am working with the Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP), a USAID program run by the Academy for Educational Development. Jaap Pels from IRC and I have been developing a knowledge management strategy for the project. Here is how we have tried to define the three generations or iterations of KM:

The concept of KM has evolved over time and can be characterized by three distinct iterations:

  • 1st Generation, the 'stock' approach, focuses on delivering the right information to the right place at the right time. Information is central and is "pushed" (explicit knowledge) to potential users and knowledge is perceived as a thing or object. Using IT systems in work processes - concept during the 1990s when knowledge management emerged as field of practice. Focused on capturing data, information and experience to be easily accessible. Rooted in, and usually driven by, technology. Tended to deal with the development of sophisticated data sets and retrieval systems without a primary focus on their use. Heavy investments made in technological fixes with little impact on way in which knowledge was used.
  • 2nd Generation, the 'flow' approach, recognizes that knowledge flows between people, be it explicit (information) or implicit (socialization/internalization ). Knowledge sharing here requires actors to seek out information proactively and to use it rather than waiting for it to appear. Thus the flow approach emphasizes the need for both "push" and "pull" processes. Evolved from understanding of the theoretical and practical failure of first generation knowledge management. Based on a clearer understanding of how knowledge is created and shared. Gives priority to the way in which people construct and use knowledge, which is closely related to organizational learning. Key issues in current knowledge management practice therefore include measuring and accelerating culture shifts, integrating knowledge sharing with learning, streamlining organizational structures to launch knowledge sharing programmes, strengthening communities of practice and improving technology tools for these purposes.
  • 3rd Generation , knowledge is organic, fluid, almost living, thing; and is closely related to its context. Because knowledge created through dialogue is best, knowledge management that deliberately challenges existing structures and information flows helps new patterns, insights and new knowledge to emerge. " is emerging and which in addition to the foci of 2nd generation, also includes a major emphasis on engaging clients/target audiences/stakeholders as early in the knowledge cycle as possible. I am not sure if you have seen Steve Waddell's recent book on Societal Learning and Change, but I believe this is the way development agencies should move, and has an emphasis on this element. Key thinking in third generation KM: David Snowden

Background

Book excerpt where Snowden sets up his definitions of third generation KM: [1]

Discussion springboard and summary where a lot of this was hashed out in a community interested in KM: Third Generation KM: Separating Content, Narrative, Context [2] (Jerry Ash of AOK of the subesequent discussion [3])

The first generation of knowledge management is the period prior to 1995. Here "knowledge" as a word is not problematic, it is used without conscious thought and the focus is on information flow to support decision makers. Executive Information Systems, Data Warehousing and Process re-engineering dominate this period.

In 1995 Nonaka and Takeuchi publish the Knowledge Creating Company and for the first time on common business language the words tacit and explicit are introduced, although Polanyi had explored the subject in more depth in the 1940's. This publication with its SECI model defining four transition states of tacit-to-tacit, tacit-to-explicit, explicit-to-explicit and explicit-to-tacit proved decisive and was broadly taken up by consultants and software vendors, both groups seeking to drive revenue through the rapid growth of collaborative technologies.

The pioneering work of practitioners such as Buckman, Edvinsson, Lank, Saint-Onge and Ward amongst others, provided legitimacy and the second generation with its emphasis on conversation of tacit to explicit was born. For second generation thinkers and practitioners, most notably in central Europe, Probst and his collaborators, the function of knowledge management is to convert private assets into public assets, though the extraction of that knowledge into codified form. I have argued elsewhere (Snowden 2000a) that this approach unnecessarily focuses on the container rather than the thing contained, and this view has been strengthened by the increasing recognition by practitioners that there is much tacit knowledge that either cannot, or should not, be made explicit.

As we move into the third millennium we see a new approach emerging in which we focus not on the management of knowledge as a "thing" which can be identified and catalogued, but on the management of the ecology of knowledge. Here the emphasis is not on the organisation as a machine with the manager occupying the role of Engineer, but on the organisation as a complex ecology in which the manager is a gardener, able to direct and influence, but not fully control the evolution of his or her environment. We are also seeing a refreshing move away from programmes which seem to manage knowledge for its own sake, to those that tightly couple knowledge management with both strategic and, critically, operational priorities.

"I always know more than I can say, even after I have said it, and I can always say more than I can write down."

This is one of the basic operating principles of knowledge management, regrettably not fully understood in the second generation. The process of moving from my head, to my mouth to my hands inevitably involves some loss of content, and frequently involves a massive loss of context. Once we recognise this we can start to rethink the nature of knowledge management. Most second-generation approaches are to all intents and purposes content management; they focus on documents containing structured and reflective knowledge that is disconnected from the knowledge holder, diffuses easily and is formal structured.

What we can say and what we know are respectively covered by Narrative and Context Management. Context management in contrast focuses on connecting and linking people through, for example, expertise location, social network simulation, apprentice models of knowledge transfer and the retention strategies for key staff. Managing context involves the recognition that knowledge cannot be disembodied from human agency either as giver or receiver, content is the exact opposite. Context Management takes control of what we know, but cannot fully say or write down. Content Management organises that which can be written.

Narrative Management lies somewhere between the two and is the focus of this chapter, it manages what we can say in conversation and in declamation, it is also cheaper and less onerous as task to capture than written knowledge and its use is closer to the natural patterns of knowledge acquisition in organisations because:

- it is easier and less onerous to capture, because I can record to a video camera in ten minutes what it will otherwise take two weeks to get round to spending a hour or so writing up;

- it is a natural process, in that when we face a new task, or encounter a problem we go and find people to talk to, to ask questions to provide context sensitive answers and advice that cannot be provided by past project reviews and idealised statements of best practice.

The separation of context, narrative and content management in third generation approaches in turn makes each more effective. By understanding the imitations and capabilities of each medium -- head, mouth and hands -- we make each more effective and the combination of the whole is accordingly greater than the sum of the parts. Here is an article that comes at KM from a slightly different perspective and made me rethink what I thought about the distinctions between IM and KM. ;-) It reminds me I should always be happy to revisit my assumptions! I'm not sure I quickly agree with all David says in this essay, but it is provocative "food for thought!" And if you agreed with his proposition, it could radically change one's approach to KM.

Major Components

  • Improving access to information and knowledge - covering the availability, accessibility and affordability of information (especially of scientific information in developing countries)
  • Promoting knowledge sharing, through learning circles and vertical/horizontal coalitions, peer-to-peer technology, communities of practice, "infomediaries", help-desks, e-learning and better interaction/mutual learning with target groups (the poor).
  • Networking: international and regional cooperation - covering networking models, "digital solidarity", collaboration tools like portals and common terminology (thesaurus), social network analysis, network effectiveness, strengthening existing structures and Resource Centres.
  • Measuring KM activities
  • Applications of ICTs
  • Enabling organizational environments for KM
  • Ethical application of KM
  • Cultural, language contexts in global settings

Examples of KM Practices

  • Knowledge Assets
    • Human: People, Interactions, Community
    • Structural: Processes, Systems, Infrastructure
    • Intangible: Culture, Trust, Learning
  • Action-Reflection
    • Stakeholder Analysis: What worked? What did not? Why?
    • Synthesis & Capture: Lessons Learned, Comparative Experiences, Best Practices
  • Content Management
    • Content types and templates (formats)
    • Business process integration: Inputs/Outputs, Content life-cycle
    • Organization and access: Content Management Systems, Taxonomy (classification), Search engines
  • Communities of Practice: Connecting People (CoP):
    • Common interests
    • Complementary experience and expertise
    • Strategic & goal oriented (i.e. Practices)
    • Sharing culture & trust
    • Collaboration tools : Online/e-mail, Face-to-face
  • Storytelling: Communicating experiences
    • Springboard stories
    • Visual and compelling
    • Easy to remember
    • Evocative
    • Resonate
  • Knowledge-enabled Business Processes
    • How you work
    • Standardization & Efficiency
    • Knowledge inputs/outputs
  • Organizational Learning
    • Integrated learning opportunities
    • Learn while doing
    • Learning support systems
    • Incentive structures
    • T-shaped competency profiles

Development Context

In a development context, KM is concerned to facilitate exchange and cross-fertilization by providing access to knowledge both within and outside the organization. In international settings, language, culture, communication and dissemination channels add additional complexity to the task of KM.

Resources

From http://www.marketingprofs.com/ea/qst_question.asp?qstid=7948: KNOWLEDGE is the conclusions one derives from information. It's the extension of various pieces of data to develop something new and different. For instance, data or information is historical sales figures for various regions of the world. The process of creating knowledge is to analyze that data, develop trend and seasonality models, and then building your distribution and production capabilities and policies to support the model with the right inventory of products in the right place, thus optimizing inventory costs and increasing company profits. The knowledge is the KNOW-HOW of looking at the data in the right way and then knowing about manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and company profit calculation and defining the inventory levels and distribution to optimize costs and profit.