Involved in a rethinking process on its institutional learning mechanisms the Swiss Cooperation Office in Chisinau made use of the Knowledge Management workshop for SDC field staff and local partners. This training on demand offered by the SDC Knowledge and Learning Processes Division aims at sharing and raising awareness for SDC’s Knowledge Management practices. In today’s blog post the staff of the SCO Chisinau offers insights gained in this two-day training.
By SCO Chisinau: Georgette, Viorica, Andrei, Valeriu, Natalia, Galina, Olga, Angela, Anastasia
„The teacher comes when the student is ready“ or the workshop on knowledge management (KM) happened for us at the good moment. We – the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) Chisinau – were thinking how to improve our information management (especially our institutional memory) and at the same time we discovered the training offer from the Knowledge & Learning Processes division (K&LP) on the SDC Intraweb. We agreed with the K&LP team for a two days workshop putting our KM practice in the centre of the joint reflection.
The first day of the workshop we were reflecting our KM practice. We started with storytelling; this allowed us to make our KM culture and initiatives visible. After harvesting our success stories we made an in-depth reflection on the 8 dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire (creating a supportive culture, gathering internal experiences, accessing external learning, communication systems, mechanisms for drawing conclusions, developing an organizational memory, integrating learning into strategy and policy, applying the learning); this mapping process allowed us to gain a clearer picture about our strengths and our potential for further improvement.
We can summarize our way of collaborating, sharing and learning as follows:
- The SCO Chisinau has a supportive organizational culture, which fosters information flow and knowledge sharing horizontally but also vertically within the organization and in relations with implementing agencies and governmental partners. “Open doors”, “feeding the communication hunger”, “walk the talk”, “unity through diversity” are some of the metaphors generated by the team members to describe the SCO culture. The management definitely encourages initiative, peer coaching and teamwork.
- The SCO team is gathering and processing internal experience in activities as the drafting of the context monitoring report (MERV) 2011 or in the SCO operational committee.
- The SCO Chisinau is strong in accessing external experience. We use a variety of platforms for information and knowledge exchange, from donor and sector coordination meetings, active participation in SDC thematic networks and through national and internal communities of practice (CoP), e.g. National Water CoP, CoP of project communicators.
- The team’s internal communication based on “open door” principle takes the shape of weekly team meetings, bilateral or trilateral meetings, team building events, formal and informal meetings. The joint analysis and conclusions are drawn during the review meetings with partners as well as in the SCO operational committee and in the process of drafting the Office Management Reports and the Internal Control System Reports.
Based on this joint mapping and analyzing process the team prioritized knowledge goals to focus on and identified concrete measures to take. The SCO Chisinau team feels reinforced to keep walking the chosen path and to build on our experiences of the way we collaborate in the team and with partners; key moments of sharing and capitalizing experiences.
Although the SCO Chisinau has put in place tools for developing the organizational memory, e.g. improved archive structure based on SDC document management system, thematically structured library with e-database, the Operational Manual, Control System Reports etc., it seems that more emphasis shall be put on strengthening this area.
Integrating the learning into strategies and policies has been performed at the SCO during the elaboration of the Cooperation Strategy, at project level – drafting the End of Phase report, and recently Equal Opportunity workplace policy.
During the workshop we also played with new methods and tools and reflected their use and benefit (among others the e-collaboration tools like the wiki or blog). We are curious about these e-tools and at the same time have our doubts; we still have to see what is useful for our work.
Our lessons to share with other SCOs:
- It is useful to make a stop and take the time to watch back and capitalize the existing experience, and to have a joint outlook on our way of working and collaborating, in order to define where we want to adjust our way of functioning.
- The knowledge management is a win-win process of giving and taking, of contributing and receiving, of sharing and learning.
- Sharing our knowledge, means also working on our SDC common language, on our joint practice, this process reinforces our identity as team and as SDC.
Our questions for further reflections:
Are we ready and flexible enough for new tools? Do we find the right way to face the challenge of a huge information flow and to filter?