Knowledge Management Made Easy – Tips and Tools to Get All Staff on Board
Published on June 6, 2022
This post was originally published on usaidlearninglab.org. You can find the original piece here.
This is the first post in a blog series by MOMENTUM focused on knowledge management for global health programs. Please write to MOMENTUMKM@prb.org if you would like to see any of the tools and resources mentioned below.
by April Houston, with contributions from Maia Johnstone, Gabrielle Nguyen, and Reshma Naik
You know that old saying: “It takes a village to manage knowledge”?
Ok, maybe this isn’t exactly how it goes, but it is true that knowledge management – commonly referred to as “KM” – is a big job and not something one person or team can do alone. The strongest KM systems are supported by everyone involved with the project or organization, not just those with “KM” in their job titles.
Effectively managing knowledge requires collecting the right information and connecting it to the right people at the right time. When this is done well, it improves the likelihood that information is seen, understood, and used by decision-makers. It also promotes learning and creativity.
MOMENTUM is an $800 million, multi-country, multi-award project that works alongside governments, local and international private and civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to accelerate improvements in maternal, newborn, and child health services. It has a strong focus on knowledge management. Point persons across the suite lead KM for their respective awards and contribute to the project’s broader KM through systems established by MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator, the “connector” award. MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator focuses on ensuring information is tracked, shared, and used to improve programming within and beyond MOMENTUM.
In this post, we will describe some of the tools and processes MOMENTUM has developed to facilitate sharing and use of the knowledge we are generating together.
Plan to reach KM goals
MOMENTUM’s innovative, integrated design required us to think creatively about what knowledge management should look like. Soon after the program launched in 2020, MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator drafted the MOMENTUM knowledge management plan, laying out a broad strategy for the suite of awards to operate cohesively. The MOMENTUM KM plan includes a roadmap describing KM focus areas for different phases of the project’s five-year life cycle and a description of the process of sharing project knowledge within and beyond MOMENTUM. The plan also lays out tactics for capturing and disseminating our insights, roles, and responsibilities across awards and for different categories of staff. All these practicalities focus on fostering a culture of open sharing that enables coordination, learning, and adaptation while encouraging all staff to be responsible and accountable for knowledge exchange across the suite.
Other MOMENTUM awards used the plan to guide their work but tailored specific approaches to meet their project’s unique needs. For example, as part of their country-level planning, the MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership KM teams in Indonesia and India conducted rapid needs assessments with key staff and stakeholders. They took stock of what tools/systems were already in place for storing and sharing information and where there were gaps and barriers. Results from this assessment have helped MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership to prioritize their time on the KM trainings and tools efforts most needed by their staff.
Support your team to ask the right questions
Part of KM planning involves anticipating the knowledge your project will generate so you can capture and communicate it properly. Team members who are most involved in project implementation, and therefore most familiar with what is being learned, can help to guide KM efforts by answering critical questions up front and at key stages throughout the project life cycle. These questions include:
- What are you hoping to learn? Why does it matter?
- Who needs to know and why?
- Where does your audience get their information?
- What products/platforms does your audience prefer?
To help technical staff think through these questions, MOMENTUM developed a strategic knowledge sharing and packaging guide that walks through the process of presenting and sharing information from the start of an activity through the development of related knowledge products and/or events. The guide prompts its users to consider how lessons they are learning will reach the people who will benefit from them.
Along the same lines, MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience designed a publication planning form that invites staff to think about themes, formats, and other considerations for a new knowledge product before beginning development. Beyond providing a general description and purpose, users are asked to assess whether they need graphic design, copy-editing, language translation, or professional printing support.
Ultimately the usefulness of tools like these is dependent on project staff actually using them. Asking the right questions is a key first step, but it is in answering them that the product or process is made more effective.
Where to share? Keep an updated list of platforms and monitor reach and impact.
Voila! Your team members followed the KM plan and created some compelling knowledge products! Of course, you will put these resources on your project website, but how will your target audience know to look there? Building and maintaining a list of external resource repositories and dissemination platforms will help you reach the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to share.
As an accompaniment to our strategic packaging guide, MOMENTUM created a product dissemination template that helps users think systematically about ways they can share a resource to maximize its reach and ensure target audiences know about it. We also created a knowledge exchange repository – a filterable, interactive spreadsheet in Airtable that organizes and categorizes potential dissemination outlets by global or regional audiences and technical focus areas.
We also created key audience profiles, listing stakeholder groups most MOMENTUM partners may want to reach (e.g. other MOMENTUM implementing partners, USAID management, health policymakers, health program decisionmakers, advocates, journalists, etc.). The profiles also describe the constraints these audiences face or preferences they are likely to have, including tips on the best timing, frequency, and platforms to use for engagement. This document is meant to help staff choose the most effective product development and dissemination strategies for the audience(s) they want to reach.
Finally, to enable reporting on KM outcomes related to reach, quality, value, and uptake, we created a document summarizing KM core indicators. It lays out the process for data collection and entry and includes product and event survey templates awards can easily adapt and use as needed.
Knowledge management involves a lot of people, processes, and moving parts. But creating a robust KM approach is doable and will set your project up for success.
This blog was developed by members of the knowledge management team on MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator. To learn more about MOMENTUM, check out our latest progress report and other resources on MOMENTUM’s website.