Talk:Important Discussion for all Members on Leadership

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Carl Jackson, Sun 2/16/2014 11:55 AM

Hello KM4Dev,

We are now moving to the third topic of the focused conversations related to shaping the future of KM4Dev.

Community leadership in KM4Dev happens thanks to a self-managing and participatory collective of volunteers known as the Core Group. The purpose of the KM4Dev Core Group is that members contribute their time and energy towards supporting the needs of KM4Dev members and developing the community (for more info see core group TORs).

A challenge for our community is to ensure that community members feel encouraged to volunteer as Core Group members, are enabled to play a useful and gratifying part in collective leadership, and can leave in a transparent and healthy manner for the best of the community and of themselves. In other words, a crucial challenge for KM4Dev is Core Group succession management.

Community members Jasmin Suministrado and Benedict Rimando have led one of the IFAD-funded KM4Dev Futures studies looking at this challenge and have identified that the processes and systems for succession management are quite random and not well institutionalized. Indeed the ideal picture is far from the current reality.

We would like to ask the community to read Jasmin and Benedict’s study on Ideas for improving Core Group succession management in KM4Dev which has very interesting components:

  • Why this matters (in this community of practice as in any other)
  • The ideal picture and the reality of succession management - from the perspectives of a) a community member and b) a Core Group member.
  • Some suggestions (as mind maps) for each of the steps in succession management: Awareness building, matching needs & opportunities, recruitment and application, initiation, integration and performance, withdrawal and renewal.

Based on your reading of the study, we would love you to reflect on your own experiences in KM4Dev and in other communities, and build up this conversation by sharing your ideas for improving succession in the KM4Dev core group. Possible topics include:

  • What is your experience of leadership succession in informal groups and community organisations (including KM4Dev) as a volunteer leader or regular member?
  • Where do you think are the most immediate succession needs? At what phase described in Jasmin/Benedict’s piece of work, or otherwise?
  • What early wins and long term approaches to Core Group suggestion management can get us to a healthier and more transparent, more effective Core Group and community as a whole?

Thank you to Jasmin and Benedict for this important piece of work. Lets here from you now.

Warm wishes,

Carl Jackson & Ewen Le Borgne

Daan Boom, Sun 2/16/2014 10:13 PM

Dear Carl c.s.

Great to continue the discussion on the future of KM4D. I was not able to participate in the previous discussions unfortunately as I’m currently building up a few sector/thematic Communities of Practices. And despite the voluntary character the groundwork or laying the foundations is quite labor intensive. Many of the lessons learned from KM4D and other forums were helpful in building the CoP ecosystem. One of the lessons is the governance environment of CoPs. As it is the beginning of the week, work is piling up so I have to keep my reply brief, but happy to elaborate next week-end. I think overall the process of the succession framework is good. Seems a lot of words and schemes and I focused on section 6. The core group is doing an excellent job but the process to be elected is somewhat misty in my view and applying a more transparent and open selection process might be the way forward. One of the pathways to achieve that is to place a call for positions on a yearly basis and let interested members run for election and members vote if more members have stated to be available for a position in the core group. I would also plea for a geographical representation of members e.g. constituencies, and the constituencies nominate representation in the core. Quick thoughts


Carl Jackson, 2/16/2014

Daan's suggestion for 'geographical representation' is certainly additional to the ideas for matching needs and recruitment already set out by the Succession Management article. Sounds significant - would be good to hear voices on this and other points

Sarah Cummings, 2/16/2014

Dear Carl, Ewen and Daan

Thanks for sharing these proposals for the KM4Dev core group - I really liked the formats and figures. A nice piece of work!

Although I agree with Daan that an election would be a good idea, I also worry about the administration of this too because someone will need to check that the election is done correctly and that people who are voting are really KM4Dev members - and we know this is a problematic issue too because membership is dispersed over a number of platforms.... I'm already worrying about the time this will take and also this is nasty work for someone who wants to be sharing knowledge! I also don't really agree that the process is all that misty because there are all sorts of minutes and activities available on the wiki which is pretty exemplary in my opinion.

I think the annual call for KM4Dev volunteers - and this could include core group members - is a good idea but of course this is really a formal occasion for what is happening the whole time with lots of people putting time into KM4Dev without any formal administration. And the core group is not a politburo - if you are doing many things for KM4Dev and wanted to be on the core group, it would work at some point. And that's something that I like about KM4Dev and CoPs in general: participation gives ownership.

Personally, I also think that it is important that there is someone on the core group with strong links to the journal - in this case, Ewen (le Borgne) has been a core group member for some time and he is one of the journal editors, as is Lucie (Lamoureux) - which is often very useful indeed.

Although I agree with Daan geographical representation on the core group is important, I think it is good to do this in an informal way, and also to take into account sex, age, language, new/older members and varied types of institutions and approaches to KM. If I look at the current list of core group members, I get the impression that this goes quite well - although it might be a good idea to recruit one or two core group members based in Asia!

Warm regards to all - from a rather chilly Netherlands!


Sarah Cummings

Philipp Grunewald, 2/17/2014

Dear Carl,

thanks for leading the way with this discussion. The wiki-article triggers many thoughts.

Has it been considered to make the suggesting of a replacement (that is willing to take over the role/tasks that the person leaving fulfilled) a condition for withdrawal (or simply a responsibility) ?

Best wishes, Philipp

Anna Maria Ponce, 2/17/2014


Basred on the document of Jasmin and Benedict, and the recent message from Daan Boom addressing ways to achieve geographic representation in the Core Group of KM4Dev, let me share the way how the Mountain Forum (MF) network achieved selection of its Board members

During my time as Executive Secretary of the Global Mountain Forum network (2005-2008), the MF organized virtual elections to achieve its quota of regional representation in the Board including a minimum of two regional members. These members were elected for a fixed term. The Board had a fixed number of members.

Representatives from the regional membership had a seat in the annual meetings, along with representatives from the host organizations and other organizations supporting the network. The elected members attend yearly Board meetings that were organized by the MF Secretariat, and their participation was supported by the core budget for the Annual Board meetings assigned by the Secretariat for this purpose.

It is important to remark that MF virtual elections have a very clear and transparent criteria, but it was not an easy technical process to organize every 2 or 3 years. MF had elected members from Asia and Latin America. It certainly constitutes a model of transparency and democracy for any other virtual networks such as KM4Dev. For more information, please contact the actual MF Secretariat which is hosted now in Lima (Peru) by CONDESAN.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Ana Maria Ponce

Ewen Le Borgne, 2/17/2014

Hello Philipp,

(Intervening here as a participant, not as co-moderator of this discussion with Carl - and don't worry I'll refrain from doing so).

I think it's a great idea. Thinking about similar options I thought not to make mandatory but to have each leaving Core Group (C.G.) member suggest/identify one person (that s/he knows personally) who might be interested in joining the C.G. and to ease their possible introduction to it - perhaps as far as helping the induction in a sort of buddy-system to attend to the questions and needs of the newcomer for a period (1 month? 2 or 3 months? As and when?)...

Anyway there are certainly opportunities, right now, to do a better job at having more people join easily and departing C.G. members to do sthg useful before they formally leave the Core Group.



Philipp Grunewald, 2/17/2014

Hello Ewen,

Yes, something along those lines was the idea. It would make knowledge retention easier because in the identification process there would be conversations about what the person wanting to leave is currently doing, how it is like to be in the CG, etc. The handover would start before a person shows willingness to join and would help the leaving CG member to make some of the knowledge held explicit. This externalised knowledge could be captured.

I appreciate people volunteering/investing time in CG work. When making that commitment responsibilities are being taken on and thinking about “what happens when I leave again” should be as important as “what happens when I join”. Sustainability of the community won’t come about by growing dependent on certain/some individuals.

Best wishes, Philipp

Jaap Pels, 2/17/2014

Hi Sarah, All, Glad you made your points.

It is difficult enough to find and become a core group member so lets not make it even more difficult... I think we have 'to work with who we've got' :-)

You would like a core group member to (strongly) liaise with the Journal; ok. Suggested is people from Asia; fair enough.

I think its time we get some more 'business people' in the core group or a (person working for a) philanthropist. (Chinese?).

I think that because I see the KM4Dev - the core group - needs to address the below core issues: - do the system admin of the information flow (people like me, Riff etc) - edit the content on the various platforms like wiki / social network Ning (people like Lucie, Ewen, volunteers etc) - indeed get content for our magazine ready (Sarah and various ... plus writers) - chip into electronic discussion / information exchange (e.g. the mail list where every member can chip in). - stimulate the organisation of a regular (yearly ?) face to face event Especially the first and last need money. So that's why I think we need some people in the core group that would like to organise that.

Cheers, Jaap

Riff Fullan, 2/18/2014

Dear all,

I had a look through Jasmin’s and Benedict’s study on improving core group succession (very thought-provoking) and have followed the various comments in this thread so far. Like many KM4Dev conversations, it makes me think about what a good balance could be between structure and openness. The core group does not have much of a formal division of labour among its members, for example. Each member does what he or she does (e.g. moderation of the dgroup, or gardening of the wiki or Ning site, or engagement in organising a f2f, or facilitating a discussion, or organising a core group meeting, etc) based on his/her interest and availability, which is a good thing. But it also means that different core group members leaving may result in different gaps to be filled. In this sense, having an idea of what core competencies or roles the core group should have, what kinds of diversity are desirable, and thinking about which members play which roles, could help to ensure that gaps are filled quickly or not created in the first place.

Another element (already mentioned ) is a defined length of time for being a core group member (with the possibility of renewal). So far we have generally been lucky to not have too many members leave at around the same time, but this is definitely a danger. Better to have expected lengths of service (and to stagger them, so only a couple might come up around the same time) to ensure a level of stability and continuity, as well as encouraging renewal and new blood. Maybe it would be good to have a specific number of core group positions. We talked about this before and decided not to have a set limit, but I have a feeling that it would be worth revisiting. More members isn’t always better, and may even lead to less of a sense of responsibility for the group if there are many. I think having enough for a certain level of redundancy, but not so many that you lose a bit of the personal touch would be good.

What else? This isn’t so much about succession, but it’s hard to think about succession without thinking about the identity of the core group. It’s difficult for the group to maintain a sense of coherence when it never (or only very rarely) meets face-to-face. Until the past 2-3 years, when KM4Dev meetings were annual (or sometimes even more frequent), this was probably not much of an issue, especially as most core group members were able to be actively involved in those meetings and could therefore also tack a core group meeting on to the KM4Dev meeting. A slippage in frequency of KM4Dev meetings tends to sap a bit of energy from the core group too.

I’m not sure how much these musings contribute, but at least the conversation has sparked my thinking as a relatively long-term core group member (since 2006), which helps me to reflect on the group as well as on my own role in it.



Riff Fullan

Valerie Brown, 2/18/2014

Dear Carl and Ewen,

I look forward to KM4D continuing to preserve the collective thinking that made it what it is. It is only too easy to slip back into the General Motors type efficient organisation model. KM4D has been established by Mike and Sarah as a common pool resource, managed cooperatively in the same way as Ostrum's Nobel- prize-winning "governing the commons". Ewen's suggestion of a buddy system, Sarah and Lucy's rescue of the Journal as a collaborative system when the publisher dumped it, and Nancy's brilliant grounding of ideas in practice, mean that we have some great acts to follow. Open source information, crowdsourcing of ideas, tapping into the synergies of difference, and the open-ended uncertainty inevitable with change have been the bread-and-butter of KM4D. Long may it last.


Ewen Le Borgne, 2/18/2014

Hello all,

So far what I hear is: Somewhat un-transparent (difficult to access) information about the Core Group and how members join and leave, though that information is available (to some extent?) and some people (like Sarah) know where to find it; Different options have been proposed for that succession management: Virtual elections along the lines of Ana maria's experience (My addition here: though perhaps that could even be organized during face-to-face events?) But begs the question of processing these elections based on limited volunteering time... Perhaps good to make it either compulsory or strongly recommended for a departing core group member to identify a potential new C.G. member and to rope them in for a given period. Important to have some balance in terms of geographic representation, gender balance, types of organisations present + ideally link with the KM4D Journal. More business(-oriented) people, possibly from Asia, would be a priority? Along the lines of what Carl prompted, what would an ideal Core Group look like, vis-a-vis its current composition:



Liz Clarke, 2/18/2014

Hi all, I agree with Val and others that the openness of the group and managing it as a common pool resource is very important. I would be hesitant to see set time limits being imposed (though I can see the advantage of doing this). Everyone's interests and time commitments and approaches are different, and the lovely thing about KM4D is that it creates a nice synergy around this.

I admit to being a relatively silent participant up to now, but that is the stage of my career that I am at - trying to write a thesis and work at the same time hasn't left much time for being active on lists. Oops that sounded like an excuse but I didn't mean it to ...

I am looking forward (as i write up my thesis) to being far more active (as I begin to have things I want to share). I am sure lots of others are in similar situations. Val's concept of collective thinking is a good one to apply here - a bit of messiness and serendipity go a long way. Though it can be a nail biting process.

In many ways this has parallels with my work on researchers' experience of transdisciplinary research in which researchers are having to tolerate a great deal of uncertainty, messiness and flux as so many knowledge communities (disciplines and non-disciplines) come together to solve wicked problems that never stand still. I just read a wonderful set of guiding principles for transdisciplinary inquiry by Jacqueline Russell in Brown, Harris and Russell's book: "Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination"

Briefly they are: 1. The partiality, plurality and provisionality of knowing (ain't that the truth!) 2. Foundations for reliable knowledge requiring not only evidence and reason, but a social process of critical deliberation (and avoiding a relativist position where any old knowledge will do) 3. That validity and critical rationality can only be achieved through inter-subjective critical reflection 4. An ontological commitment to openness and an expanded view of what is "real" 5. Including facts as well as values in the inquiry process and validation (which can be challenging in the realm of science) 6. And a commitment to, and openness around, Aristotle's three knowledge commitments: the ontological, epistemological and ethical. 7. A commitment to ecological sustainability and social justice as part of furthering knowledge and human interests (a la Habermas).

To me KM4D is a good example of a group demonstrating these principles. What do you think?

Cheers, Liz

Pete Cranston, 2/18/2014

Fabulous list, Liz: 3 and four are almost meditational!

And KM4Dev does embody that then all we need is a donor who recognises, through the density of the language, the immense power for learning, change and - whisper it quietly - transformation that would represent



Nancy White, 2/19/2014

Now, back to the issue of leadership. How can we improve succession management in the core group? Which alternatives identified in the document do you think should we seriously consider?

I keep having this little feeling that we limit ourselves when we see that the only way to volunteer, to steward, to lead, is through the Core Group. I see the CG as a coordinating mechanism, but not the only source of contribution or labor.

For example:

Anyone can be a monthly online facilitator - just raise your hand and we can buddy up with each other (I do this - I'm not on the Core Group!)

Synthesize a thread on the wiki

Notice what is happening/link across NING and DGroups conversations

Spot great resources and share them (like Jaap and so many others do via Twitter and other tools)

Organize a local or global meeting (we had a small team that made the Seattle meeting happen)

Write a longer piece for the Journal


So my question is, what does it take to invite anyone into this? What motivation? What process? What support?


Philipp Grunewald, 2/20/2014

Dear Nancy,

I agree with you. There are many spaces in which leadership can happen (and more can be created – as Jaap recently did with his ZEEF experiment). If something is important to you, go for it. See if others in the community jump on board. Self-facilitation is not (by definition) inferior to “expert”/“professional” etc. facilitation. Everything comes with ideological, political, economic, conceptual, etc. strings attached.

Best wishes, Philipp

Pete Cranston, 2/20/2014

Interesting indeed, Nancy: I came at what is the same set of ideas from a different direction, triggered by Valerie and others talking about how they like the unstructured, emergent, self-guiding element of KM4Dev.

My question is what is the scope of the role of the Core Group (CG)?

We, the CG, will be raising the issue of Governance, amongst other things, as John Smith’s superb second synthesis report (patience, patience, it will be out soon enough - clear a lot of time to read it!) on the IFAD funded work over the past couple of years. That is partly because it is one of the issues covered in the original proposal, so we need to think and talk about it, but also because of the issues raised in these threads about things like representation and elections

Networks with even a bit more formality than KM4Dev tend to split functions into Governance and Secretariat. The KM4Dev CG has fulfilled both of those functions. Having things that loose fits the emergent, self-guiding culture, but that tends to be strained when money enters the room, as it did with the IFAD project, and indeed the previous funding from ICCO, SDC, Bellanet, and so on. Decisions have to be made, projects managed, and the line of accountability to the wider network without a more formal consultation mechanism is a bit haphazard, since even regular communication and questions tends to attract a sub-set of regular or occasional responders.

And Valerie’s comment, calling for the emergent culture to continue, points at the values of the network, the element that is stewarded in more formal organisations by a Board, or Trustees, or similar. So while I agree with Nancy that all the ’secretariat’ functions can be shared within and without a Core Group, what of the stewardship - the Governance element? Can it, should it stay within the CG? If so, then that might strengthen the case for mechanisms like elections or criteria on inclusion to ensure representation in the CG.

Weighty things - anyone got a joke about networks?



Valerie Brown, 2/20/2014

Thanks Pete for raising the spectre of money in self-organising governance. There lie dragons if the funding source controls the outcome or even the quality - as it almost always must. There are frameworks however in which the resource 'money' is kept separate from the resources for 'knowledge management". I strongly recommend Elinor Ostrum's "Governing the commons" (it is on e-book).


Japp Pels, 2/21/2014

Hi All, Thanks, will read Ostrum ... (took me long enough). In the mean time an image ...

Cheers, Jaap


Luci Lamoureux, 2/21/2014

Hi all,

I am a KM4dev oldie (since 2000!) and I have been wrestling with the annoying old person habit to bring it back to "the way it was in the olden days" :-p

From its inception in 2000 to 2004, KM4dev was basically an IDRC/Bellanet project. It came out of two face-to-face workshops organized by Bellanet, starting with roughly 65 participants on a mailing list (as an aside, we are now over 1800 members on this list). So for the first 4 years, Bellanet was the Secretariat AND ensured the governance. We organized all the workshops and took every decision. But obviously, as KM4dev got bigger, it became to be too much. It also wasn't really a community of practice back then.

We put out an offer for people to be part of the Core group which would help to steer KM4dev. So from 2004 up until IDRC stopped funding Bellanet in 2008 (and KM4dev by extension), I would argue that there actually WAS a separation of the Secretariat (Bellanet) and governance (Core group).

Also, on Nancy's point on the importance of everyone contributing, it was always a pet peeve of mine when I was on the Core group when I hear/read "KM4dev should do this" or "KM4dev should do that!". I would respond, "but you are KM4dev!". This is a community relies on the interest and energy of its members. After 2004, different members started to organize KM4dev workshops and events and to propose other activities, some of which got funded independently. Nancy (who is no longer on the Core group) decided to organize a workshop last year in Seattle. She proposed it and then ran with it, without any funding. I think this is the beauty of this community; the opportunities are there, you can stand up and say, "I'd like to do this!", whether you are on the Core group or not.

Best, Lucie

Ewen Le Borgne, 2/21/2014

Dear Nancy, Lucie, all,

I totally agree with you! There are many ways to engage with the network other than via the core group - and the interviews from current KM4Dev members also show that. As Lucie says, "KM4Dev is you (too)". Contributing to KM4Dev is a bit of a jaded Londoner's dilemma: the idea of stepping in (or going out, for the London metaphor) is not all too inviting (hurdles: unclear platform, unclear 'what's in it for me', lack of time for the KM4Dev member / tube, length of journey, unsure fun for the Londoner) but in both cases, doing it proves totally entrancing and exciting... well, it certainly has been for me.

So that discussion about 'how to contribute beyond being a core group member is really important, and we ought to answer these critical questions...

There are however also a number of issues that relate more specifically to the core group and also need attending to - in this conversation.

Among these: Where do you think are the most immediate succession needs? Or, following Jasmin & Benedict's approach: Is it that people are not aware enough of the core group (who, what, why etc.) - does any of these ideas make sense? Is it that needs are not matched and we don't have a core group with the right skills (perhaps the mention of geographic representative-ness features here also) - does any of these (different) ideas make sense? Is it that the 'recruitment' is not working well enough - that also seems to be one of the priorities from previous inputs on this list - does any of these other ideas make sense? Is the biggest hurdle the orientation of new core group members? - does any of these yet other ideas make sense? Is it that we don't manage to keep the inspiration for CG members and get it to perform well enough? - does any of these still different ideas make sense? Are the major bottlenecks at the junction of withdrawal and renewal? - does any of these final set of ideas make sense? Should we organise a poll about top priorities? Should we just mention 'let's do this/that' and invite anyone to lend a hand?

Many issues remain unanswered, we just have a hunch... so your guiding hands and eyes and brains are all useful lights :) Cheers,


Benedict Rimando, 2/24/2014

Dear all,

Thank you for your comments, reactions, suggestions and other ideas in relation to our paper on succession management. (

Ewen did an initial summary of the initial reactions of the community on the paper we made on succession management of the core group (see below, thank you Ewen!). From then, other ideas, suggestions and comments have been added and we are happy that the community members have been very much engaged in this discussion, for various reasons.

Many of the thoughts of course go beyond group succession within the core group, which is normal since discussing the core group also means considering its place within the whole KM4Dev community and what role it needs to play, what are the best structures for managing the community, and what resources are needed to keep the activities alive. These topics are not within the scope of our paper but we also discussed them a lot during our paper preparation. The core group of course will have to deal with these other issues one time or another and I think other papers also touch on these other matters.

In our paper, we had set out to point out some issues with the current set-up with the core group. The issues that we had initially pointed out regarding the succession process concerned : - the need to have a system in making the core group’s role and members known to the community - the need to match core group gaps to community members’ interests/skills - the need to clarify the process of entry into the core group - the need for a system to induct a new core group member - the need for more cohesiveness and more regular face-to-face encounters within the core group, and - the need to manage the withdrawal of a core group member and ensure proper debriefing, maintain continuity and avoid painful ruptures.

Going back to the discussions, here are some points that have been made so far (plus those you have already summarized).

A. On specific succession management issues

• Question on the level of awareness by the wider community on the role and activities of the core group  suggestion to ask core group members to put ‘Core Group member’ beside their name (Sarah)

• Question of composition – in terms of skills, needs, etc.  identify core competencies or roles in the core group and consider desirable diversity and identify roles for core group members (Riff)  other ideas mentioned in your summary below, including geographical representation, gender, business profiles, etc. (Daan, Ana Maria, etc.)

• Question of recruitment into the core group  consider virtual elections ala Mountain Forum(Ana Maria)  not elections but continue with the actual practice (Sarah)

• Question on orientation of new core group members  adopt a ‘buddy system’ in inducting a new core group member for a few months (Ewen)

• Question on sustaining inspiration for core group members  no ideas so far (though I hope the whole discussion is already an inspiration in itself)

• Question of ensuring succession at the withdrawal of a core group member  consider a withdrawing core group member to have responsibility (even as condition) to suggest a replacement before withdrawing (Philipp; Ewen)

• Question of the need for term limits  no term limits, keep it an open pool resource (Liz)  set some form of renewable term limits but on a staggered basis (not the same time) – Riff

• Question on structure and openness of the Core group  search for the balance between structure and openness (Riff)

Question of a definite number of the core group members  revisit the discussion and find the optimal number (not too few, not too many) - Riff

B. On general core group issues 1. Structure and management issues; scope of the role of the core group – (Lucie, Pete,) : The question whether to have a more formal structure, for example, separate secretariat and Governance/stewardship (core group) functions or whether to continue with the ‘unstructured, emergent and self-guiding process’ and the core group acts as ‘coordinating mechanism’ and as a common pool resource with stress on the collective thinking process and the synergies (Valerie, Nancy, Philipp)

2. Core group coherence and face-to-face meetings  suggestion to set more regular face-to-face meetings (Riff)

C. Issues involving the place and role of the core group and of the community members in the whole KM4Dev community 1. Stress on other forms of active engagement with the KM4Dev (outside of Core group)  informal contributions as form of leadership (Nancy, John)  there are many examples of non-core group engagement (Nancy, John, Valerie): - act as monthly online facilitator, synthesize a thread on the wiki, notice what is happening/link across NING and DGroups conversations, spot great resources and share them, organize a local or global meeting, write a longer piece for the Journal, etc; see the table of Valerie on her Feb 22 contribution.  The question remains however: what does it take to invite anyone into this? What motivation? What process? What support? (Nancy)

2. Funding issues (Valerie, Jaap) - funding is needed for some important functions of the community. However, there is a question of the how and a caveat to not allow the funding influence the outcomes.

Having identified these, it would be nice to find out how the community thinks the collective reflection has shed light so far on the succession management issues as outlined in our paper (

In our paper, we identified the six steps and given several ideas on how these can be undertaken. It might be nice to see how the suggested succession management framework itself is helpful in improving the current set-up and how the various suggestions and ideas would be taken up by the core group/by the community. Several of the comments and suggestions above have already touched on one or other step and I think they are worth exploring for the core group. Are there other ideas and suggestions to enrich the conversation? Do you think the issues raised above have been sufficiently answered?

Finally, it is interesting to note that related issues such as the role of the core group itself, the structure of the KM4Dev community, the need for funding, etc. invariably come into discussion, underlining the relationship of succession management to the whole framework of structure. It would be interesting to see how the community will evolve and how much of current way of doing things in the community will be maintained as the 'the way' of the KM4Dev.

Thank you,

Benedict Rimando

John Emeka Akude, 2/25/2014

Dear Folks, Nancy is right by saying that anybody could raise his or her hand up and take up responsibility. However, the motivation for this is not evenly distributed. And this becomes even more difficult if members believe that it is the responsibility of the CG. Furthermore, why not consider making it mandatory for CG members to be present at the annual F2F in order to get acquainted with new members and re-ignite old acquaintances? After all, I've learned from you professionals that the human dimension of KM is the most significant, so why not humanise the CG a little bit by giving faces to functions. In the spirit adumberated by Nancy, I am thinking of making the conference/workshop that is coming up early July at my institute partially an KM4Dev affair and would be consulting the CG officially on this in due course. Equally, this ad hoc system of discussion on the mailing list ist not optimal in harnessing the ideas of members. Who has not skipped an important issue simply because he or she could not attend to it at the time that it came up? I think we need to supplement it with something else.

cheers, John

Jaap Pels, 2/25/2014

Hello All,

All good thinking about mandatory F2F CoreGroup meetings and KM4Dev members own initiatives / responsibilities. Succession management - please forgive me - appears old thinking to me; we are a Wirearchy! The CoreGroup needs to nudge some fellow member KM4Dev-ers to join and / or pick up leadership in KM4DEv issues.

My thinking value these pointers and thoughts at the background of my (paradigm!) reality; KM4Dev people are spread out around our globe. And travelling scatters us more. Also corporate budgeting admin squeezes possibilities to squeeze inn KM4Dev activities back to back other meetings.

For F2F we need budget; no Finance no F2F.

Alternative would be to go local and organise F2F on that basis; perhaps LocalCoreGroups. Still money is needed for F2F meetings.

So, are we at a bifurcation here?

In #development the trend is to separate financing of, and "program / project executing" for development. The #Dutch #government outsources development / aid budget allocation more and more.

  1. Philanthropist by definition outsources the real work on the ground.

Lets go with the flow and seek a donor. To set a trend KM4DEv could look for a Chinese philanthropist to sponsor global KM4Dev F2F events, some hardware and host a secretariat in China.

Any ideas how to get there?

Cheers, Jaap

Jasmin Suministrado, 2/25/2014

Hi Jaap, hi all!

The idea of local core groups is another way to go, which may be parallel in purpose to ensuring geographical representation in a centralized core group structure. I think it's nice if we are to move really close to the ground and address issues of development where "development" should happen.

But do you foresee the need for getting back to the whole community for local activities, for whatever reasons — to inform other local KM4dev (sub)communities of what's happening, to inspire others to try out something similar of wildly different, to learn from others, to cross-fertilize? If yes, then maybe there is still a central (global) core group. But maybe the work at the global core group level can be kept to a minimum so in reality work really happens on the ground. Maybe the global core group's role can simply be moderating the mailing list? But then, if so, perhaps there won't be any need for a core "group". (Pardon my thinking out loud.)

I think the set up can work if funds are raised at the local level, because if we have activities involving the whole community, such as the one from IFAD, then it becomes a nightmare coordinating tasks especially given the voluntary nature of core group work. What is the likelihood of fund-raising at the local level? Any local KM4Dev group think fund-raising is viable? But in any case, be it local core groups or a redefined central core group or whatever other form/structure it be, I think the issue of managing succession is still important, because there are still roles to play and tasks to do. I think the key is to agree on what these roles are and then from there see how to ensure that such roles are fulfilled by whoever or whatever structure despite changes in people and community membership. Now whether we employ a very rigid approach (such as really examining and being critical about areas of succession management as in the framework that Benedict and I proposed in our little piece of work) or we employ a rather loose and liberal one to ensure there will always be people who will perform these roles, wherever these roles reside, is a question that I think we can address in this focused conversation.

What are your thoughts?


Jaap Pels, 2/25/2014

Ola Jasmin and all reading,

Below some of my thoughts in respect to your remarks:

The idea of local core groups is another way to go, which may be parallel in purpose to ensuring geographical representation in a centralized core group structure. I think it's nice if we are to move really close to the ground and address issues of development where "development" should happen.

Jaap: Geography is no issue in casu representation; the KM4Dev community votes with their email address. Our physical structure is by definition local where our virtual structure is digital. A CCG (CyberCoreGroup) as the CoreGroup is now, is by definition centralized which is fine. I support your enthusiasm to move KM4Dev attribution close to the ground.

But do you foresee the need for getting back to the whole community for local activities, for whatever reasons — to inform other local KM4dev (sub)communities of what's happening, to inspire others to try out something similar of wildly different, to learn from others, to cross-fertilize? If yes, then maybe there is still a central (global) core group. But maybe the work at the global core group level can be kept to a minimum so in reality work really happens on the ground. Maybe the global core group's role can simply be moderating the mailing list? But then, if so, perhaps there won't be any need for a core "group". (Pardon my thinking out loud.)

Jaap: Feedback / getting back is a good thing for cross-fertilisation. I see no special prerogative for a CoreGroup; all should encourage sharing of experience. What a CoreGroup does is bound to time / effort / inspiration / whatever and I see little argument in deliberating 'minimizing'. I think there is a core amount of effort to be made by a CoreGroup - but that could be done by a Local or Cyber group to. Important is to get this core amount done AND financed, hence my plea for a Chinese donor and secretariate.

I think the set up can work if funds are raised at the local level, because if we have activities involving the whole community, such as the one from IFAD, then it becomes a nightmare coordinating tasks especially given the voluntary nature of core group work. What is the likelihood of fund-raising at the local level? Any local KM4Dev group think fund-raising is viable?

Jaap: The fun part is that local fundraising can be in-kind a lot like offering meeting space, a coffee, some water, a role of paper, peoples-time to round-up / wrap-up, facilitate, etc. And I am sure in-kind contribution will pay out in terms profile.

But in any case, be it local core groups or a redefined central core group or whatever other form/structure it be, I think the issue of managing succession is still important, because there are still roles to play and tasks to do. I think the key is to agree on what these roles are and then from there see how to ensure that such roles are fulfilled by whoever or whatever structure despite changes in people and community membership. Now whether we employ a very rigid approach (such as really examining and being critical about areas of succession management as in the framework that Benedict and I proposed in our little piece of work) or we employ a rather loose and liberal one to ensure there will always be people who will perform these roles, wherever these roles reside, is a question that I think we can address in this focused conversation.

Jaap: We should not give up trying. Indeed the discussion on succession management hopefully teases out the basics to be taken care off by the CyberCoreGroup and how LocalCoreGroups get stimulated to manage succession local :-)

In short, I really think times have changed. KM4Dev is getting more and more loose from 'Northern dev coops / orgs'; we are a network of people in development and interest in KM (IM and KS) with limited possibilities to gather F2F unless we find a sponsor. To get the cyber discourse going (Ning, Mail, K* etc etc) we need a garden (hard- & software) and some gardeners. On top of that some funds are available to study ourselves / reflect and hopefully it will also result in some interesting KM4Dev scenarios. Good ideas are very welcome.

Cheers, Jaap

Martina Hetzel, 2/25/2014

Hallo all, interesting discussion.

Some thoughts: - sometimes its good to think about "what not to loose" instead of "lets change-develop". The network is very good, it helps alot, in very different layers (Lucie, what you wrote about the KM4Dev history helps me e.g. in my actual work, trying to build up a CoP - there are many layers of learning. I always learn on two layers: the contents, but as well the methods we are using here). So lets try to keep it, making things better, in small steps

- small steps CG: informing people about the governance level in a personal/participatory way, motivating/showing local action and posibilities, trying to get fundings for small/good projects linking global and local and linking operational and management level

- strategy vision: there is a lot to develop in the topic KM4Dev and development. In some way the CG could help to see the big picture. I see e.g. a lack of informing dev. planners about "how to plan with KM4Dev integrated". Most of the planners dont know it and dont do it.

- in my opinion there is a lot of contribution, people read, people share... there is development in personal engagement in levels (depending alot on life and work circumstances). There are as well limits in contribution in networks like this one - its part of it.

- sometimes I ask myself about discussions in KM4Dev: who would decide? (in a wirearchy?, I liked that one)


John Emeka Akude, 2/25/2014

Thanks Martina, For making a point that resonates with my memo, namely; that development planners don't know how integrate KM4Dev in their planning and that it should be our duty as KM4Dev members to inform them on how to do this. I will add that it is our duty to let them see the urgency of doing this. And by doing this action, we already find ourselves in the terrains of advocacy; which is what I am pleading for.

@Martina; your name sounds German, are u? And where you at?

cheers, John

John Emeka Akude, 2/25/2014

Hey Jaap, heya all,

Just to chip in that if we go for advocacy, then there is the necessity to maintain a global core group (or global executive council, kind of) to coordinate affairs globally because part of our advocacy activities will imply putting pressure on top managements of hierarchically organized development organizations operating on a global scale. To facilitate this, we need a centralized management core too.

@Jaap: I think I once read from you that "learning only counts if it leads to action". Am I right? I just wanna be sure because this statement aptly couches my own thinking on the issue and I am thinking of using this quotation as an opener to my conference description that I am working on right now.

cheers, John

Carl Jackson, Fri. 2/28/2014

Hi again,

Over the last two weeks we've had a really rich discussion around the issues of succession management and the KM4Dev Core Group inspired by Jasmin and Benedict's excellent paper as part of the KM4Dev Futures work.

There's now an opportunity to review the full discussion and discuss whether there are remaining areas of future action to improve our community's leardership that were suggested in the original paper. Please have a look and help to round off this focused discussion over the weekend:

The original suggestions:

The discussion so far featuring Dan, Philipp, Anna Maria, Ewen, Jaap, Riff, Valerie, Liz, Pete, Nancy, Luci, Benedict, John, Jasmin, and Martina:

Kind regards,


Martina Hetzel, Fri. 2/28/2014

Hey Carl, Jasmin, Benedict and the others, reciently I find time to read your paper and to scan over the comments. I read it because of the nice mindmaps and the clear structure - thank you!

The reading left me with the same feeling Nancy shared: I feel there is something wrong about the framework. When you just focus on the CG and deepen this approach (with alot of ideas), there are missing very important parts looking at possible future models of KM4Dev.

For me there are different roles/types of members. And their is a role/type of "local connectors". And as well getting from "passive" to "active". So the big question is how to activate people. If you just frame the two types: member and CG you frame a certain model - and even if we dont want it, its a bit like "passive" - "active-coordinating". I would integrate "local connectors" and "how to motivate local KM4Dev action" as part of the management and participation model.

I know that I go beyond the original question (succession management), but the question is part of a system we have in mind. And I would widen the system looking at future visions.


Nancy White, Fri. 2/28/2014, 2:56pm

I'm on the road and woke up this morning before my alarm went off with one of those senses that what I was dreaming about needed to be hauled into the "waking world," and oddly, it was about KM4Dev. Probably because one of the last things I read last night with my laptop on my bed was Tina's comment. ;-)

My sense was after reading these emails the past few weeks that each who took the time to speak up about KM4Dev governance seemed to post based on their experience and past wisdom about governance in other contexts. Here is my perception (NOT FACT) Those of us who prefer structure and some degree of formality discussed more about governance and secretariat (and I suppose, have a clearer idea about that differentiation. It is not a language used outside of development much here in the US!) Those of us who prefer informality (or perhaps, just fleeing too much structure!) emphasize the more emergent and adhoc options. Those who are taking a strong community lens focus on the community aspects. Those with a KM lens, (which in fact, have not stood out in my memory of reading these threads -- INTERESTING) advocate for structures which focus on KM and finally, some have advocated structure that in fact advocates for international development.

I find this fascinating and there is a blog post brewing in my brain, but would it be worth examining the options from the three lenses or perspectives of Community, KM and Development and see if there are any common threads across these three broad lenses? Is it worth understanding if any portion of the community values one or more of these perspectives over the others?

For example, philosophically I absolute love the idea that KM4Dev should be more altruistic and serve development. The realist in me says this is a structural mismatch, that indeed, by focusing on community and KM, we become stronger agents of that wider change through other, more formalized structures (of our orgs, etc) and we become INFLUENCERS as a network.

I know, I know... too many unfinished ideas, but I wanted to write this out before I headed to the airport and forgot all about it. Those half formed dream ideas are always so interesting and fleeting!



Sebastiao Ferreira, Fri. 2/28/2014, 11:14pm

First of all, thank you all for the discussion.Reading the summary and some posts, particularly the reflections of Tina and Nancy, some old ideas came back to my brain. I hope not to bore you with these notes.The first point is about the nature of KM4Dev and why it has endured over a decade, and still keeps vital.I see KM4Dev as a movement of development workers and development related professionals, who share experiences, tools and reflections on the use of knowledge in the development work. So, for KM4Dev, the context of knowledge in development is the development work, not development in general. If we look at the members of KM4Dev, we will find KM professionals, both in development and in business. However, I guess, development workers and development related workers are predominant. If we take a look at the content of the email list, one of the main foods the feed KM4Dev, we can verify its nature. If we look at the history of KM4Dev we can find clues about what sustained its energy. In my understanding, it is the exchange that makes the membership of KM4Dev worth. This exchange is productive because of the people who are there, because of the questions, and particularly because of the answers that bring ideas and sources of knowledge on KM. Some years ago I bore the opinion that KM3Dev should dedicate to the role of knowledge in development in the 21st century. I think I was wrong. Now, I see the future of KM4Dev closely related to the future of the community of development workers, predominantly from developed countries, but with an increasing number of southerners. Which dimension, or perspective, of KM4Dev should predominate? I don't know, but my feeling is that the perspective of the community should be the base for everything else. I see KM4Dev as a movement, a movement of that community. It should dedicate its energy to everything that becomes relevant for that community. The recent discussion about facilitation is, for me, an example of relevant topic for the community. It is almost impossible to work in development without playing the role of facilitator. I have only three ideas about the core group: (a) it should be structured enough to make facilitate the exchange in a permanent form, (b) it should renew its members to prevent some people to feel tired, and (c) it should be flexible enough to incorporate emerging leaders. The best formats should be designed by people who know the internal context of KM4Dev much better than me. Once again, thank you for the flux of ideas.

Spirit and Opportunity Sebastiao Mendonça Ferreira

Pete Cranston, Sun 3/02/2014, 10.55pm

HI all

Sebastiao, I love ‘the flux of ideas’ and I agree that it is one of the central, sustaining sources of energy within KM4Dev. Another is the people within it, and the re-invigoration of people who operate in facilitative/steering/admin/activist modes is another essential sustaining mechanism which, as Riff said, was fuelled by the more frequent meetings f2f there have been in the not too distant past. (And local group meetings can surely feed the fire)

I’m sort of stuck, though, because I want to make a point that relates to advocacy but it is also part of this thread - so Phillip, John, please note! For me, all the diversities of KM4Dev - of perspective, value, meaning, location, ……. is another source of energy. And Sarah Cumming’s recent call for volunteers to engage in some advocacy seems to me entirely in keeping with that diversity. I don’t think KM4Dev as a whole should engage in advocacy - indeed couldn’t because there isn’t ‘a KM4Dev’ in that sense, neither formally nor in spirit. But that Sarah could call into the network, get some responses (wish I had the time!) and get started seems to me exactly how we can have a voice in policy conversations, led by those with the interest and will. In the same way that some people are excited about getting a newsletter going, and others about fundraising.

And volunteer CG member is another expression of that diversity. Your principles, Sebastiao, seem a great summary of what is essential, except perhaps will: Sarah demonstrated that will, and got a result. She didn’t need any kind of formal structure to make it happen. So, rather than the Nike phrase, perhaps Primo Levi’s expression of a partisan call could be one of our strap lines, “If not now, when?"



Jaap Pels, Sun 3/02/2014

Dear All,

@Tina, @Nancy Fair enough but let go of either / or and let us start framing in and / and / and.

In messages I read the lenses / perspectives Community, KM and Development. Also I have noticed the central - decentral / core-group - locals controversy. I once mentioned to think in KM4Dev.NET, KM4Dev.ORG and KM4Dev.INC.

Perhaps a combinations of the above dimensions should e addressed in scenario's. @Phillip Advocacy might fit global net efforts, F2F gigs fit community and org, where working with donors and other flourish a KM and INC issue.

So lets shift from what KM4Dev is towards scenario's what KM4DEv will evolve in.

Best, Jaap

Valerie Brown, Sun 3/02/2014

Ideally, KM4Dev will continue to evolve along all of these avenues - not competition among them, rather reinforcement of the common purpose. Valerie

Ewen Le Borgne, Sun 3/02/2014

Indeed Valerie, and Sebastiao, I couldn't agree more with you. It is not a question of core group = structure = comfort zone and community = flexibility = daring. That would be awfully simplistic.

There is structure, flexibility, comfort zone and daring in both the core group and the community and its ad hoc emerging leaders. The emergent leaders certainly play a role and should as and when the opportunity presents itself or when they feel like it. But there are also issues that probably need to be thought through from a helicopter, big-picture, kind of lens, which a more regular group might be well placed to contribute to. And I'm saying this as I am myself an advocate of (trying out) a core group that restricts itself to responding to the community needs and ideas rather than giving more responsibility to the core group.

The point is: we need energy, facilitation, ideas, insights and action, from all corners of the KM4Dev group. So as Valerie said, let's hope all these energies support and reinforce each other, bridge and complement one another, and coalesce in synergy rather than antagonise with each other.

The development of KM4Dev in all its regional and city avatars is a great opportunity to try this out, and this rich conversation has brought forward lots of really good ideas. So thank you all for this and keep the cooperative spirit up :)



Jasmin Suministrado, Sat. 3/02/2014

Thanks Tina for your thoughts, and Nancy for sharing that interesting dream!

Benedict and I are happy with the ideas and rich exchanges that our little piece of work triggered. We were just talking this morning, and we thought that indeed there are many discussions triggered by our work that goes beyond (and challenges) how the topic was framed and the actual topic we focused on. And for us, it is good because it tells us how issues are very much interconnected and what other topics we should be discussing as a community.

Nancy is correct that we write from our own experiences. We chose the topic of succession in Core Group because many of the issues we noted there are issues I personally experienced when I joined the CG about 3 years ago. And indeed, the topic is limited to succession in the Core Group (which is one of five themes suggested in the call for augmenting KM4Dev strategy options last December), with the premise that a Core Group is still needed to perform key roles to organize and mobilize the community. It deliberately does not touch on other aspects of leadership, and roles of "passive members" and whatever other kinds of members. The only question we wanted to ask is: if the CG is to be sustained so it can play a key role in leading the community, how do we make sure that there will always be people to keep it going?

I don't think we claim the CG plays an exclusive role in leading the community, though the coupling of "leadership" and CG in one theme may provide, if not strengthen, this notion. Maybe we should have had a discussion first on "leadership" as a topic on its own, and situate the role of CG in there. That will also help us identify different forms of leadership and different roles, both formal and informal, typical and emerging. Maybe we can still have that discussion in the dgroups or even face to face, if there's an opportunity to do so. But in any case, I would still argue that whatever role we give to the CG, and whatever other roles we define for other types of members of the community, the issue of how we want to make sure the roles are performed sustainably is still a valid one. Should the community take a deliberate and formal stance or do we play it by evolution and see how roles shape up, die down, get replaced, etc? My guess is it's a bit of both.

Thank you for an interesting discussion! I hope we can make sense of all these, and translate it into something that will make this community even more vibrant!

Cheers to all, jasmin