Tools for Knowledge and Learning: A Guide for Development and Humanitarian Organisations

Journal Club Article: Ramalingam, B. (2006). Tools for knowledge and learning: A guide for development and humanitarian organizations. London: Overseas Development Institute.

Background

“No one should be dying or suffering because knowledge that already exists in one part of the world has not reached other parts. It is up to each of us to take the responsibility to ensure the knowledge flows easily to where it is needed” (Geoff Parcell, Learning to Fly, 2006).

The application of learning and knowledge based strategies derived from learning from lessons of the past and from elsewhere, to then overcome the challenges and boundaries of time and space.

Strategies of the Learning Organisation

A Holistic View of Knowledge and Learning Tools

  • Organisational contexts: Strategic alignment, management behaviours, institutional pressures, funding cycles, historical evolution.
  • Relationships and collaborations: within and across organisation – via networks, ICTs, communications plans; core functions; support functions.
  • Organisational knowledge: Forms and locations; creation, sharing, storage, use; key activities and tools; relevance, how the message is packaged and communicated.

Five Competencies Framework (Collison & Parcell, 2001)

Aim: “To work out how well they are performing against organisationally established criteria for knowledge and learning, and to identify goals and priorities for improvement. The competency framework works on the principle that effective knowledge and learning is based on improving performance in:

  1. Strategy Development
  2. Management Techniques
  3. Collaboration Mechanisms
  4. Knowledge Sharing and Learning Processes
  5. Knowledge Capture and Storage.”

Knowledge Audits: Taking a systematic and strategic approach to knowledge and learning can help to integrate the diverse activities of an organisation, and facilitate more productive processes of knowledge sharing and dialogue between internal and external stakeholders.

Social Network Analysis: a research technique that focuses on identifying and comparing the relationships within and between individuals, groups and systems in order to model the real-world interactions at the heart of organisational knowledge and learning processes.

Most Significant Change (MSC): the process involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most important of these by panels of designated
stakeholders or staff.

Outcome Mapping: As development is essentially about people relating to each other and their environments, the focus is on people.

Visioning

A facilitator supports use of imagination to think of the ideal workspace, organisation and what the 5 year plan looks like,

Management Techniques

The SECI Approach

“There are four key processes through which tacit and explicit knowledge interact, namely, socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation. Together, these processes make up the SECI principles.

  • Socialisation allows to share tacit knowledge
  • Externalisation converts tacit into explicit knowledge
  • Combination combines different types of explicit knowledge
  • Internalisation converts explicit into tacit knowledge.”

SECI model of Knowledge creation.

Lewin’s Force Field Analysis

“Force Field Analysis was developed by Kurt Lewin (1951) and is widely used to inform decision making, particularly in planning and implementing change management programmes in organisations.”

 Activity Based Knowledge Mapping

“Is a tool which enables knowledge inputs and outputs to be
linked in a systematic fashion to ongoing organisational activities and processes – from office mail to strategic reviews.”

Other resources are also discussed.

Team Collaboration

“Team development has been described in terms of five stages, beginning with a simple ‘membership’ group, and working through ‘confrontation’ to a ‘shared-responsibility’ group (Bradford and Cohen, 1998). Bradford and Cohen suggest that the different stages of groups differ in terms of the following characteristics:

• Atmosphere and relationships
• Understanding and acceptance of goals
• Listening and information sharing
• Decision making
• Reaction to leadership
• Attention to the way the group is working.”

Communities of Practice

Action Learning Sets

Six Thinking Hats

Mind Maps or Concept Mapping

Social technologies for collaboration

Knowledge Sharing & Learning

  • Storytelling
  • Peer programs
  • Challenge sessions
  • How to guides
  • Blogs
  • Reviews and retrospects
  • Intranet resources

Additional Resources

Collison, C., & Parcell, G. (2001). Learning to fly: Practical lessons from one of the world’s leading knowledge companies. Capstone Ltd. [GoodReads]

Davies, R., & Dart, J. (2005). The ‘most significant change’(MSC) technique. A guide to its use.

Earl, S., Carden, F., & Smutylo, T. (2001). Outcome mapping: Building learning and reflection into development programs. IDRC, Ottawa, ON, CA.

Ramalingam, B. (2005). Implementing Knowledge Strategies: From Policy to Practice in Development Agencies. ODI Working Paper 244, London: ODI.

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