Usually, at a point in my conversation with new people or friends, they’ll ask me: “what is your work?”. I’ll reply, “Knowledge management”. Suddenly, I usually noticed from their frowned facial expression that aren’t getting a clear understanding of what ‘knowledge management’ means. The bold and humble – 6 out of 10 – would then ask me to clarify what that means, 3 will assume they understood (why they didn’t in reality) and just 1 person is either familiar with the expression or work of a knowledge manager.
When I noticed that many development practitioners, especially from Africa, were not having a clear understanding on the role and importance of a knowledge management specialist, i changed my approach. So whenever, a client or someone asked me that question of “what is your work?”, I will usually start by describing the organizational problems that a knowledge management and learning specialist is addressing, then give them the ‘title’ of that position at the end. This way, it’s much easier for them to digest and better understand the expression “knowledge management” and I’m always happy to see the relief or smile 😊 on their face when they finally understand it.
I noticed that most social and development challenges in Africa and across the world share similarities. But the solutions to them usually remain hidden, forgotten, or localized – they never get adapted for replication. Yet, some organisations in the public, private or nonprofit sector are more effective at learning from success and applying it further over time and space. What is the difference between those who make progress and those who fall behind?
The answer is as simple as it is complex: Knowledge – captured knowledge acquired in a specific context that is adapted, scaled up and replicated. Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving and sharing of an organisation’s knowledge asset which could be: databases, policies, documents, procedures and previously uncaptured expertise and experience of individual workers. Knowledge management is therefore an enabler of organizational learning. It’s an effective way of documenting and sharing solutions from place A to place B.
But quite often, rather than being documented and shared, solutions are simply left behind, hidden in remote rural communities or tucked away in the heads of people or development practitioners who have moved on to the next big task. Knowledge and experience gained from development programmes is permanently at risk of getting lost or forgotten.
As a seasoned knowledge management and learning specialist with experiences in the development sector, I work with organisations and development practitioners to establish or strengthen an organizational learning culture. I help them to adopt a more systematic approach on:
- How to capture lessons learned from experience and expertise.
- How to package and store those lessons using technology so that they can be retrieved and shared effectively to gain in efficiency and improve performance.
- How to internally promote collaboration and knowledge sharing across teams and departments to solve complex operational challenges.
- How to create an enabling environment and build a leadership team that encourages knowledge sharing, provides supportive governance structures and financing and encourages external partnerships.
Why you need to work with me?
Consider these statistics:
- It’s estimated that poor knowledge-sharing practices cost Fortune 500 companies $31.5 billion annually.
- Very few professionals and managers in Africa have a clear understanding of the potential benefits of knowledge management to their organisations;
- 74 percent of organizations estimate that effective knowledge management disciplines increase company productivity by 10-40 percent.
Given the importance of knowledge to efficiency and productivity, it is critical that organizations manage their knowledge effectively.
To be more specific, I help you to:
- Get the information you need sooner (and with fewer headaches).
- Project your brand, impact and reputation through knowledge sharing.
- Maintain a high level of institutional knowledge even when key staff members turnover.
- Gain in effectiveness, productivity, and performance. If you’ve ever sent an email asking for information only to have that email forwarded multiple times to different people who might know the answer, you know how unproductive it is when finding information feels like playing a game of whack-a-mole.
- Make fewer mistakes. The old adage “history repeats itself” is as true in business as it is in all other aspects of life. When employees aren’t sharing information, they’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes others have already made. But this is avoidable when the lessons-learned from mistakes and failures are easily accessible to everyone.
- Make informed decisions. When employees share their experiences, lessons-learned, and research on a searchable knowledge system, others can access and review that information to consider multiple pieces of data and differing viewpoints before making decisions.
- Standardize processes. If you’ve ever played the telephone game, you know exactly how distorted information gets when communicated by word-of-mouth and in silos. With documented and shared processes, it’s easy to make sure that everyone is on the same page and following approved procedures.
- Spend less time recreating existing knowledge. When information is easy to access and accurate, it reduces the need for coworkers to interrupt each other with emails, chats, and support tickets. Employees and especially support teams spend less time answering repetitive questions, freeing them up to focus on more important—and more profitable—work.
We live in a knowledge economy, making knowledge one of the modern company’s most important assets. Knowledge management is increasingly important in today’s world as managers and development practitioners are bombarded with data. So much so, that according to Forbes, “Scientists have worked out exactly how much data is sent to a typical person in the course of a year – the equivalent of every person in the world reading 174 newspapers every single day.” Don’t carry the burden alone anymore, reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org so we can work together.
Understanding and overcoming the scarcity of quality data on education policies and practices in Africa…
Daily, your organization is increasingly building valuable knowledge and experience. But how well are you capturing, documenting and sharing it? As your information and knowledge capitals grows, so does the importance of developing a knowledge management strategy. The first step as you begin to execute your strategy is to take inventory of how knowledge is used and stored. A knowledge audit is an incredibly valuable exercise for a number of reasons. In this article, I’m sharing my experiences of conducting this assignment with companies from Africa
From 11 to 13 January 2021, I facilitated 2 day-training on nonprofit communications and knowledge management during the organizational retreat of SMAid International at Sunyani, in the Bono Region of Ghana.