FAO knowledge networks review process

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Here are the points we touched upon during the discussion:


In a nutshell, FAO did a review of a pilot knowledge networking phase in late 2007/early 2008. Qualitative data was gathered in focus group which was then subjected to a SWOT analysis. The outcomes of the analyses led to recommendations for knowledge network coordinators and managers.

Some findings

Here is what has emerged as part of knowledge networking at and among FAO and its partners, so far:

  • the culture of the organization can greatly impede people getting involved with/participating in knowledge networks
  • the culture of the organization is, however, not the only factor which would encourage and/or impede with knowledge networking; a couple of other factors of great importance are the extent to which knowledge networking is integrated with systems and operations and the extent to which it is being supported and enabled by the leadership of the organization
  • interestingly, it was found that networks considered as most successful are external rather than internal to FAO
  • it was also found that a proliferation of technological platforms and CMSs is generating confusion leading to less willingness to explore knowledge networking platforms and approaches

Other points

  • the difficulties to get people involved and sharing is not a waste of time and/or extra work but can make the difference
  • we cannot force people to share knowledge, we can only “create the conditions” for them to do so
  • training is a good tool to show what is at our disposal and focus on people and on HOW to do rather than on what
  • a good facilitation may be a key for a network success but is not always required à each network has its own particularity
  • the post evaluation of the analyzed networks has no defined indicators and this was a tricky point that the floor made stating that every single network has its own particularities and consequently they should have their own range of indicators à there is no generic set of indicators for the network reviewing process
  • one of the indicators could be to evaluate whether the need assessment (on platform, tools, methodologies) has been well conducted or not
  • the human aspect (face-2-face event) is a key component for the network success à it is all about trust
  • the forthcoming IDLO Knowledge Sharing Network has a different setting than the analyzed networks and has mainly to focus on the human network it already has (worldwide alumni associations) and on the international legal expertise it can offer

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