===== How do you pick a knowledge sharing tool or method? With the wealth of available tools and methods, it can be overwhelming to think about which to pick. To help you, we have set up some example contexts, tasks you might need to achieve in those contexts, then suggested some tools and methods. We do this by tagging the tools/methods with key words related to the tasks.
Find a context that most closely represents your needs. These overlap quite a bit, so you may wish to scan down the page first. Then click into that context page and take a look at the tools and methods noted. To see more tools, click on one of the tags - these may be linked to more than the tools and methods listed. You and others can add tags that they think are useful over time.
PLANNING, MONITORING, AND EVALUATION Strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation may not seem like knowledge sharing activities at first glance. However, participatory interactions that encourage reflection and help project into the future, along with feedback on progress, can be very useful. We know that the old tried and true quantitative evaluation methods are good for accountability purposes, but they can be weak as reflective and learning tools. So if we think learning should be part of what is driving our planning and M&E processes, we could be asking ourselves the following questions:
LISTENING, GATHERING INPUT, STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT Sometimes we need to stop “talking” and start “listening.” We may listen to learn about what is going on or find people interested in the same things we are. Social media tools and knowledge sharing processes allow us to do some amazing listening and monitoring when the topics show up online.
SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES AND NETWORKS Knowledge sharing depends on the quality of our relationships, on knowing who does what and might know what, and on finding ways to easily and better connect with like-minded colleagues or stakeholders. When we think about relationships for KS, we might ask:
WORKING, RESEARCHING AND COLLABORATING TOGETHER Are two (or three, or four,…) heads better than one? It seems that as our world and our work gets more and more complex, we need to make decisions that rely on an increasingly large base of expertise and skills. With organization boundaries blurred by a more organic, networked environment, collaborating - often at a great distance - is becoming a way of life. Likewise, research and innovation involves a myriad of stakeholders, such as researchers, end-users, and policy and decision-makers. Knowledge sharing within research initiatives has the potential to make research much more meaningful for all actors. When looking at enhancing the effectiveness of research initiatives at the planning phase, or the application of research results, and even the longer term sustainability, we might ask:
MEETING When we have a focused task or intention, we get together and meet, be that face to face (F2F) in a room or online. Key to successful meetings are both processes and tools, especially tools for distributed or online meetings. Meetings are usually part of teamwork. When we seek to increase participation, knowledge sharing and ownership of meetings, we can use KS tools and methods to help us both in the planning, running and follow up of meetings. For example, some of the questions we might ask include:
CREATING, PUBLISHING AND SHARING CONTENT Capturing knowledge seems like the easiest part of the equation, right? We can store our knowledge in databases and on the web and make it available to everyone. But because it is so easy to do, before you know it, you have information overload and cannot see the forest for the trees. Interestingly, although technology may be causing this overload in the first place, it can also be used to combat it. If trying to find better ways of dealing with this situation, we might ask ourselves:
ADVOCACY Advocacy involves making people aware of and persuading them of the value of acting on what you care about. This may involve helping leaders make better decisions or influencing policy makers around emerging issues. Core processes are: articulation of an idea, getting the idea to the right person, and enabling them to take action on the idea. Some questions we might ask when we seek to apply KS tools and methods to advocacy might include:
LEARNING AND TRAINING Learning can be anything from formal training and courses, to informal learning from one's social network. We find there is an element of learning in almost everything we do.
IMPROVING IMPACT THROUGH KNOWLEDGE SHARING IN RESEARCH
Do you work in a research organization, project or program? Despite valuable knowledge generated by research activities, are you still dissatisfied with the level of impact achieved from research activities and research-generated knowledge? The components of the research process all offer an entry point in which knowledge sharing (approaches, methods, tools) can be integrated and used to improve those stages and the process as a whole. Knowledge sharing can offer some support to addressing these problems and improving the way research is carried out towards greater impact.
*Knowledge Management*, as a systematic and institutionalised approach in Development Cooperation, is essential. This AGRISERVICE Bulletin looks at the theory and current practice of Knowledge Management for rural areas in development institutions, in projects and programmes, in emerging farmers? organisations, and at the knowledge flow between these bodies.
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