Moving people's focus away from KM "products" to KM or KS processes

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The question posed by Chase Palmeri from IFAD in a You Tube video ( related to the difficulty to get managers and other Headquarters-based people to move their focus away from KM as a product (i.e. reports, newsletters, etc.)., to KM as a process, which was easier to do with her field-based colleagues.

Some of the main points that came out of the discussion:

  • Jaap Pels argues that the development sector is heavily focused on tangible outputs/deliverables/results in logframed a world and that is isn't in the interest of organisations/hierarchies/managers to change that. To make people/managers start to value the processes, the only way is to change the 'framing of the problem' and to change the metaphors and vocabulary used, through a face to face meeting far away from the office, preferably on the ground in the neighborhood of the ultimate beneficiaries of development cooperation and to make it interesting for them, suggests to discuss around some posts by Owen Barder, Ben Ramalingam and Tim Harford (see Resources)
  • Ueli suggests to get the desk folks in HQ to discuss THEIR practices, THEIR challenges, THEIR headaches and ways to do things (ie. how to push proposals efficiently through the bureaucratic process, how to move money reliably and fast to where it is needed, how to explain problems with partners when they happen, how to engage and interact with private sector funders, how to deal with ICT-hiccups), not what happens out there at the implementation front (that's for the folks there).

B: Make sure it gets to be experienced by the intended actors that the exchange platform and the process there IS the "manual", not some document for reading up on.

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Recommended Resources

  • Complexity and development [presentation and podcast]: HeaderPeople working in development don't need to be told that it complicated, in the sense that there are lots of problems to try to solve. But there is growing interest in the idea that economic systems are complex, in a specific sense borrowed from physics and biology. Books by Eric Beinhocker and Tim Harford have popularised the idea that these processes may be at work in economics, and a new book of essayslooks at how complexity thinking might affect economic policy-making.

Earlier this year, my Kapuściński Lecture considered the implications of complexity thinking for development economics and development policy. I've now published an updated version as a narrated online presentation which lasts about 45 minutes. You can watch and listen online; listen to the presentation - for example in the gym - by downloading it from Development Drums or via iTunes; or you can download the transcript and slides.