There is an increasing engagement and commitment to Knowledge Management (KM) and Knowledge Sharing (KS) in the International Development Community. A strong feature of a successful approach, and one which we advocate on our workshops and consultancies is that to look at KM through a people lens rather than purely through ICT. This reading of KM brings attention to the real day-today relating and practices in organisations, and a focus here can truly embed and institutionalise knowledge sharing. KM needs to be understood not as an isolated discipline but as an integral part of organisational culture, when knowledge is effectively shared, it can dissolve silos. In a world of divided disciplines, we believe that KM can open the door to more holistic and multidisciplinary perspectives.
IMA experienced a great example of this with BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee). Within a context of altered funding, major change management processes and spurred by a new leadership, BRAC Bangladesh is promoting better knowledge management (KM) and knowledge sharing (KS) both internally, and externally with stakeholders and partners to ultimately have greater influence and advocacy. Working with diverse BRAC members allowed a joint understanding of how KM can further BRAC’s work; assess what KS practises were already working well and suggest how to improve them; and identify KM gaps and explore ways to address these. Crucial are spaces to hear different perspectives and to raise awareness and learning on KM concepts and key practices for KM officers, KM champions and middle managers, for senior members, and field officers to encourage a knowledge-sharing rapport between field and head office.
Listening to different perspectives, gleaning what was already happening and what people wanted, allowed a co-creation of a KM roadmap and strategy with, and for, BRAC which embeds the idea of learning from practice. After this initial work, BRAC appointed a KM Unit who are now coordinating the BRAC KM Network. The three pillars of ‘KM processes’, ‘KM structures’ and ‘Skills & capacity for knowledge sharing’ between them include all organisational aspects of KM. What we see within BRAC is a trend we are experiencing more globally; a thirst for better using KM to improve organisational practices for innovation, improvement and impact. By focusing on the people involved, KM can help tap into the wealth of people’s tacit knowledge and experience; create ways to share this and institutionalise KS practices by breaking down silos.