22 June 2009

Knowledge sharing 'principles' for agricultural research

Simone Staiger-Rivas recently published a series of blogposts and reports from the CGIAR Institutional Knowledge Sharing Project.

Following from earlier postings on this blog on knowledge management and data management 'principles', her report sets out 10 Key Lessons that could perhaps be seen as emerging principles in this area:
  • When introducing KS, start with a small project and with people willing to experiment. Getting early wins and finding the right people in the right context is important.
  • A successful intervention needs funds as well as explicitly mandated staff with the right skills and enough time to do the work.
  • Without a specific focus, a KS initiative will grow beyond what is feasible to manage. Setting the initiative’s scope is important.
  • KS enables us to pay attention to how we interact with each other and creates spaces where people can be heard.
  • Formulating strategies using KS principles, tools, and methods allows staff to engage in the process and gives them a sense ownership of the results. This in turn ensures continuity in institutional cultures and facilitates the management of change.
  • To successfully communicate KS principles and methods to scientists, practitioners need to show how KS can contribute to their research organization’s objectives.
  • KS works best when applied simultaneously at the grass roots and the leadership level. Senior management buy-in is critically important for integrating KS principles, methods and tools into meetings.
  • KS tools are not enough. To be successful, the KS Project needs champions to advocate for it and continue the work.
  • It is important to build institutional capacity in KS principles and methods. In-house expertise will increase effectiveness of meetings and lead to mainstreaming KS within the institution.
  • KS works best when it is integrated into the organization’s overall business plan, alongside communications and other activities, not as a separate department.
In this video interview, Simone argues that introducing knowledge sharing into a research organization requires attention to three entry points: The first is 'strategic' - making decision points more horizontal and participatory. The second is to work on concrete tools and approaches that staff can work with. The third concerns capacity building and staff empowerment. For knowledge sharing to really happen, an organization needs to "change profoundly."

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