Applying Knowledge Management Tools at Work – SDC staff share their experiences (1)

July 19, 2011 | bit-wartung | Methods & Tools, SDC Networks |


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by Corinne Sprecher, AGRIDEA / Team International Corinne-Sprecher

In 2007 and 2008 SDC’s former Knowledge and Research Team collected and documented tools and methods for planning and reflection of own activities, for drawing lessons and for sharing insights and applying them. This work resulted in the publication of the SDC Knowledge Management Toolkit on the Learning & Networking website and in print. However, km-tools are only of use if applied consciously. And they are only applied if they promise to better reach a certain goal. They must be well applied to be effective.  We have been looking for champions who consciously apply tools in their work and who find them helpful. In this post, they share with us some of their experiences and their lessons – practical examples for illustrating the toolkit. Use it as inspiration to try them out by yourself!

Click on the titles to read the description of the tools.

Experience on Brainstorming by David Keller and Lukas Frey

“We used brainstorming meetings with all potentially relevant operational units at SDC to collect comments and additional ideas on a drafted 3-year-plan for partnerships with the private sector. By using this method we aimed at involving a large number of colleagues and a wide range of opinions. Moreover, we also wanted to disseminate the public private partnership concepts, i.e. use this process to make people aware of the topic. For the latter, the brainstorming exercise was very adequate! However, the openness of the method led to the collection of a wide range of often very contradictory comments, and therefore a final paper would have to narrow down the range of opinions again to reflect a minimal common denominator, or present comments in a Annex.”
David Keller, Institutional Partnership Division

 „In the course of a planning workshop for a new country strategy, the team of a SDC cooperation office is faced with questions regarding priorities, trends and challenges that can be observed in the country. For staff that is daily involved in programme implementation on the ground, I noticed, it is challenging to take a step back and broaden its view on the big picture. In such a situation brainstorming can help to collect vague ideas and unstructured thoughts. It is like thinking aloud. Statements are not valued and do not need to be well formulated or synthesised. But still, after some structuring by the facilitator, the vague ideas complement each other to a complete picture. It is motivating for the team to see in the end: ‘Actually, we did know it all from the beginning, and now we can see and read it.’”
Lukas Frey, Eastern and Southern Africa Division

Experience on Group Facilitation by Aida Voloder

“My advice that I draw from my experience in facilitating meetings in the cooperation office is: Make sure you plan enough time for questions and discussions! In my view, everyone has the right to ask questions and everyone should have the time to contribute to a discussion. I as facilitator must be flexible to adjust the agenda, while at the same time keep an eye on the watch.”
Aida Voloder, Cooperation Office Sarajevo

 Experience on Visualization by Lukas Frey and Aida Voloder

 “In a key moment during a workshop, a simple picture of a funnel on a flipchart helped me to create a common understanding of the workshop objective and the process. For the planning of a new country strategy, we started on the first day with a very wide discussion on the future of the country program. In the course of the workshop the discussion was then narrowed down and would result in the end in a strategy document. This simple metaphor of the funnel visualized this process. Once introduced, the visualization was referred to throughout the workshop and helped to keep the focus in each step on the appropriate level.“
Lukas Frey, Eastern and Southern Africa Division

“From my experience it is much easier for listeners to absorb the content of a presentation if it is visualized, and we can then also better talk about the matter presented. I always advice the staff when preparing presentations to include pictures and illustrations – not only text. And not all text needs to be written on the slides, additional comments presented orally make the presentation livelier!
Additionally, to make sure that the listeners are attentive and not occupied by reading handouts, I suggest: Either distribute the slides only after the meeting with the minutes, or send them out for preparation already with the invitation to the meeting.”
Aida Voloder, Cooperation Office Sarajevo

Experience on World Café by Peter Beez

“We used the World Café method in a midterm review of the country strategy to discuss and consolidate the results of group work. It is more productive to discuss the issue in small groups and with this method you can collect a lot of input from the participants in a short time.
What proved to be very useful was to introduce the World Café method one week before at a staff meeting. This way the staff knew what was going to happen and the exercise could be explained and introduced during the event in a time saving way.”
Peter Beez, Cooperation Office Managua

For the full SDC Knowledge Management Toolkit and further information visit the SDC Learning & Networking Web.

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