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Sharing Success in Knowledge Management

Posted by Apoorva Mishra Monday, November 1, 2010

Flying KLM in Philippines, Biking in China & Catching the Auto Rickshaw in India: Sharing Success in Knowledge Management

IFAD country programmes are taking strides in Knowledge management and three stories were shared by Yolando Arban of Philippines, Su Juan of China and Ankita Handoo of India. They give us a sneak peek into how knowledge management is changing project implementation and how this change came about.

The Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM) has now become an annual event in Philippines, where over a 1000 people gathered for the 4th KLM this year to learn and share in the market place. Yolando has been the chief pilot of this, with a network of co-pilots ensuring take off! The event is the end result of an ongoing focus on knowledge exchange.

Projects and rural communities demonstrated their know-how, showcased their products. While a simultaneous policy and investment forum brought together researchers; practitioners and policy makers to discuss relevant concerns which can enhance poverty alleviation efforts. Now the KLM has become integrated within the government with the NEDA (co-ordinating agency) taking the lead which is linked to the Medium-term Development plan. This has been possible due to the continuous support and planning of a network of people working within the IFAD family, both active and closed projects. A Technical working group coordinates the organization of this event. While communities market their products and attract the public within their stalls, Champions have been a 'driving force' in the promotion of the event.

In China, changes have been slower but significant on the Knowledge management front according to Su Juan, who narrated how getting round tables in the spirit of participation was looked upon as an invitation for dinner rather than a serious workshop setting. She shared the small things which make implementing knowledge management training with senior staff a "unique" experience. Bosses were not used to sitting around small tables and posting material on flipcharts around the room. At first there was resistant to this type of shift in methods of sharing information and knowledge. However, the China country office then demonstrated the end results and benefits that accrue: when you manage knowledge better, you manage projects better. Senior staff have begun to realize that actually they discuss relevant issues and that they have 'wisdom' to share and knowledge is not something only discussed in the lecture halls of universities but resides in the everyday implementation context that project staff work in.

Ankita understood Su's context and struggles for change as she herself faced similar challenges when she was hired. It was a challenge to overcome mind sets and bureaucratic processes, first two years there were no significant results to report. After having gained training in Knowledge sharing tools, she began to introduce this in the India Portfolio Reviews. The greatest opportunity for change came when Ankita participated in the Mid-term review missions of ongoing projects. She was able to suggest specific changes in budget allocations since many projects were sharing knowledge informally but they did not have any budget for KM. She advised on the number and type of activities projects could consider which first needs to be based on their specific knowledge needs. Three years on, with formal budgetary allocations, specific Terms of reference for hiring qualified KM staff, she now looks forward to the continued growth of knowledge sharing and exchange amongst IFAD projects in a more systematic way.

Key recommendations coming from this sharing session with participants focused on the relevance and need for knowledge sharing at ALL levels. From farmers exchanging her expertise that result in food on our plate, to government cross-ministry and cross donor sharing as well as sharing of knowledge between closed IFAD projects with new and ongoing IFAD projects are required to help determine with what ease the food we eat comes to us, whether it is equitably distributed and whether the hands that work to feed the world are strong and able and no longer impoverished.

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