KM self-assessment: The final act and next steps

On Friday 13 March, we came together at IFAD for the final KM self-assessment wrap-up session.

Mylene set the tone of the meeting by expressing appreciation for the KM self-assessment blog posts and Henning got the award as the 2009 KM practitioner convert.

If there are any KM cynics out there, you too, may win the KM practitioner convert prize. All you need to do is to commit to do at least one knowledge product and to embrace KM and knowledge sharing practices.

Later during the session, Annina was inspired by the social reporting blog and commited to contribute to the blog and report on the meeting she will be attending in Washington D.C.

I wonder if I can twist Mylene's arm and ask her to volunteer to contribute to the blog, especially since this coming week she'll be attending the Fifth World Water Forum? :)

OK - back to the Friday session.... Dan, our facilitator, split us up in 5 different groups and asked us to identify key insights and take-away messages from our respective sessions. Each group was composed of people from the different sessions. To remind us of our work, he gave us our session outputs and copies of the blog posts on KM self-assessment.

As we found our respective groups and huddled together to complete our assignment, the Vice-President reviewed the KM self-assessment framework, joined the different groups to learn more about the insights and take away messages from the various sessions.

The different groups had this to say:
  • we've made significant progress
  • we have no right to exist without knowledge management
  • the level of KM maturity varies across the house
  • capturing and reapplying knowledge is the most crucial and important dimension of KM and one that needs more attention and focus
  • there are many opportunities in current business processes - such as supervision and implementation support, RIDE, portfolio review, RIMS - to capture and reapply knowledge
  • we need to focus on systematically capturing knowledge and converting information to knowledge and learning and put in place an "accountability for learning" mechanism
  • to become a learning organization, KM needs to be mainstreamed in all business processes and practiced systematically
  • we need to go beyond the current silos
After sharing our respective insights and take-away messages, Dan gave us a blue and a yellow post-it and asked us to:
  • choose one of the 8 dimensions which we wanted to improve
  • use the blue post-it and write ONE individual action that we could commit to do which would allow us to move from our current level to our desired level
  • use the yellow post-it and write ONE division/departmental action that would allow us to move from the current level to the desired one
We diligently examined all the dimensions and confidently wrote both our personal and division/departmental commitments on the post-its and proceeded with putting them next to the dimension and the level we aspired to achieve in the next 9 months.

Surprise, surprise, the majority deemed "capturing and reapplying knowledge" as a priority area - with 13 commitments at departmental/divisional level and 11 individual commitments.

Other priority areas were:
  • Leadership and support: 5 department/divisional and 2 individual commitments
  • Building a learning organization: 5 departmental/divisional and 4 individual commitments
  • Networking and communities: 2 departmental/divisional and 5 individual commitments
  • Implementing efficiencies: 2 department/divisional and 6 individual commitments
  • Measuring value: 1 department/divisional and 1 individual commitment
  • Innovation: 1 department/divisional
For capturing and reapplying knowledge:
  • FM commited to implement "deliver as one" project
  • PN commited to operationalize KM and define who has to deliver what KM products
  • PN commited to use RIMS data to systematically ensure good quality of data leads to better projects and to produce 2 concept notes for knowledge products
  • PN commited to produce information sheets on innovative projects
  • PD front office commited to strengthen the KM component of result-based COSOPs
  • PD front office committed to distil knowledge from supervision reports and organize learning and sharing events to disseminate knowledge and lessons learnt across divisions and departments
  • PF commited to implement the regional knowledge network in Eastern and Southern Africa
  • PT commited to make sure the division knows more and to put in place a process to provide knowledge both internally and externally
  • EO commited to capture experience from projects and systemtically use it in policy papers and a basis for developing new policies
  • EC commited to widely disseminate and make IFAD's knowledge and lessons accessible
  • ES commited to making processes, procedures and methodolgies better known to the house
On an individual basis:
  • Roxy commited to raise awarness about storytelling as a knowledge sharing method to catpure project impact and to use storytelling to capture project impact for at least 2 projects
  • Roxy commited to "enroll" at least 10 more blog authors - She managed to draft Annina! 9 more to go!
  • Annina commited to use the blog to record her impressions and ideas
  • Chitra commited to analyze and share quality assurance (QA) information
  • Tom commited to systematically capture knowledge and lessons on institutions and to disseminate these on the Rural Poverty Portal
  • Mylene commited to produce innovation infosheets
  • Nadim commited to help the team to implement the RIMS analysis and write two concept notes for knowledge products
  • Henning commited to produce one knowledge product per year
  • Deidre commited to identify areas of overlap and enhance communication between divisions/departments
  • Antonella commited to capture the learning from the indigenous projects, link and feed the learning into IFAD's mainstream projects/programmes
  • David commited to integrate the corporate databases, the documents repository and the content management system to allow seamless knowledge capturing and dissemination
Lucia's wonderful drawing summarizes eloquently the various action points. What is left to do is to roll-up our sleeves and get going.

In closing the session, the Vice-President mentioned that we have finally managed to demystify knowledge management. He iteriated that while we have come a long way, we still have some work to do and to succeed we need to ensure that KM is part of our daily life, therefore, it needs to be mainstreamed in all business processes. The VP reassured the gathering that he will continue to be the KM champion. He urged everyone to work together to make sure that IFAD becomes a knowledge-based organization by generating, using and sharing not only its own knowledge but also to use knowledge generated by others to create new knowledge. The VP thanked everyone for their commitment and enthusiasm and closed the session by saying: "we are building something together and we are going to get there together".

We finished off the session by conducting an after action review (AAR). We learnt that:
  • KM is not a fancy thing to do, we can all do it
  • KM self-assessment is leading us somewhere
  • KM is about networking (YES - this is the CONNECTING dimension of KM)
  • Departments and divisions are at different levels
  • Good facilitations makes a world of difference
  • Sessions conducted outside of IFAD are more open and the energy level is definitely highter and better
  • Henning's cigars come in different flavours
What went well:
  • Peer-to-peer learning
  • Coming together of colleagues from different departments and divisions
  • Mixing and redoing things
  • Prioritization
  • Setting concrete timeframes
What would we do differently:
  • Come up with more concrete next steps
  • More focus on deadlines
  • While we recognized that innovation and knowledge management are closely linked and complement each other we did not explicitly discuss how to integrate the innovation and knowledge management strategies.
On a final note we agreed that KM as an enabler for all business processes needs to be embedded in the CMRs and in the performance evaluation system. And your social reporter would like to close this "reportage" with a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery which I think summarizes eloquently the spirit of the KM self-assessment sessions and the willingness of all colleagues to push forward the KM agenda: "As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it".

So let's all work together to mainstream KM, convert the KM cynics to KM practitioners and make IFAD both a learning and knowledge-based organization.

Thank you for taking part and for those who have been following the sessions through the blog, thanks for doing so. Please share your thoughts, ideas and insights.

Goodbye and good night! A la prochaine!