Taking our communications to the next level? – Reflections from the Farming First and IFPRI workshop

My reflections from the Farming First and IFPRI communications workshop!

Maarifa - Communications and Knowledge Management

I recently attended a one-day workshop for communicators organized by Farming First and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) prior to IFPRI’s 2020 conference on “Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The training was given by senior communicators with expertise in communications planning, media pitching, content development, social media management and online advocacy the workshop enabled participants’ capacity to communicate on topics related to food security, sustainable agriculture and resilience.

The workshop brought together more than 30 young communicators working in the agriculture, sustainability and resilience areas from different parts of the world—Africa, the Pacific, Europe and Asia.

Farming First and IFPRI Training Workshop for Communicators

Here are a few things I learned from this workshop:

  1. How to build communication strategy: We need to be clear what our organization strategy is and focus on the reasons we do it. We should always start with our policy objectives. Measuring, both quantitatively and qualitatively…

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Organizational learning and knowledge assets

A Knowledge Asset is an explicit managed resource which supports organisational decision-making and action. It contains synthesised, validated and organised knowledge.

Knowledge Assets consist of guidelines, set within business context, enlivened by stories and quotes from experience, and linked to people and documents for further investigation. The role of knowledge assets in knowledge management is to provide the means by which one team or person can transfer their knowledge to many teams or people, separated in time and distance. Although the most effective mechanism for knowledge transfer is face to face; this is not always possible to arrange. Your knowledge management system should provide the means to transfer knowledge between people, even if the timespan between capture and use is years. A knowledge asset can usefully be hosted on a Wiki or in a Knowledge Base.

There’s some confusion and discussion around the term “knowledge asset

A Knowledge Asset is a single set of documents, or a single document, containing compiled, structured and validated guidance on a specific area of practice.

  • The key aspects of Knowledge Assets are that they are
    • Validated (by a process owner, practice owner or CoP)
    • Collated (from many sources)
    • Structured (in the most useful way for the reader)
    • Contain Guidance – tells the reader how to perform a task or a practice. They are Know-How, rather than Know What. So Wikipedia is not really a Knowledge Asset.
  • Knowledge assets are likely to include
    • Process documents
    • Guidelines
    • Checklists
    • FAQs
    • Templates
  • Knowledge assets will not include
    • Project documents (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Contracts (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Cases (unless they are selected by the practice owner as being a very good example that others should follow)
    • Lessons learned
    • Job descriptions

Knowledge Assets

  • Could be on a wiki (supported by a folder where linked files can be kept)
  • Could be on a portal (with different parts of the asset being files in the portal e.g. guidelines, templates, examples)
  • Could be a document
  • Could be a book

Could be expressed as

  • Procedure
  • FAQ
  • Checklist

Could be structured by

  • Practice/topic taxonomy
  • Steps in a workflow
  • Knowledge assets may be linked to training material

Knowledge Asset on its own is not a complete Knowledge Management solution. Far from it. The Knowledge Asset can codify, structure and store the core explicit guidance, but can never capture everything you need to know, at every level of detail.

Source: Knoco

Methods for organisational learning

Learning Before, During and After (LBDA) (Collison and Parcell 2001):

The LBDA model is deceptively simple yet can have powerful effects. It is a knowledge management method with an explicit learning purpose that can be applied to any activity. The purpose of the LBDA approach is to avoid the reinvention of existing knowledge by

creating knowledge ‘assets’ which can be accessed by anyone in the organisation. The main features of the LBDA method are illustrated in the Figure below.

Learning before is facilitated by having a shared understanding in the organisation of ‘who knows what’ and by a process called ‘peer assist’, which is a meeting or workshop where people who are thought to be experienced or knowledgeable about an issue are invited to share their experience and knowledge with an individual or team facing a particular challenge, for example designing a project or planning an advocacy campaign.

Learning during can be helped by a system of after action reviews (AARs) that bring colleagues together after a specific event to discuss what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses.

The learning after is captured by learning reviews leading to the agreement of specific actionable recommendations (SARs). The LBDA model Communities of Practice form a crucial part of the process which focuses on interpersonal relationships but these are supported with ICT, such as databases.

Knowledge Management/Sharing Toolkit «Sharing Knowledge and Learning»

1.      Knowledge Management approaches

  • Taxonomies development
  • Process for critical knowledge Identification
  • Processes for knowledge harvesting
  • Concept mapping
  • Diffusion, transference, utilization of captured knowledge

2.      Methods for Knowledge Management

After Action Review Knowledge Map
Brainstorming Knowledge Network
Briefing and Debriefing Lesson Learnt
Collegial Coaching Mentoring
Community of Practice (CoP) Open Space
Exit Interviews Peer Assist / Peer Review
Experience Capitalization Story Telling
Facilitation SWOT
Good Practice Visualisation
Knowledge Fair World Café
Expert yellow Page

More on: http://www.kstoolkit.org/KS+Methods

3.      Knowledge Sharing tools

  • Knowledge databases
  • Content/document management systems
  • Search engines
  • Portals/Intranet
  • Wikis/blogs
  • Skill/competency databases
  • Communities of practice
  • RSS
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Social Networking Site
  • Wikis

More on: http://www.kstoolkit.org/KSTools

Reporting and communication help power FAO agriknowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa

Maarifa - Communications and Knowledge Management

In October 2012 the Knowledge Management and Information Services (KMIS) team at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa worked day and night to help make a success of an AgriKnowledge ShareFair ‘Towards Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa.’

The Horn of Africa has suffered several droughts in the last 10 years. Each time, governments, the international community and NGOs agreed that long term measures were needed to prevent another tragedy.

In October 2012, FAO and other partners convened an ‘AgriKnowledge ShareFair‘ that brought together people from fifteen countries from Africa’s most drought prone regions to address recurrent droughts and chronic food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. They discussed and shared good practices and ways to scale them.

The event took place on the ILRI Ethiopia campus; it also received substantial organization and communication support from ILRI.

Ideas for the event germinated in…

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