Harvesting Knowledge at the KM Share Fair
Delphina Ntangeki sharing ASSIST experiences in conducting knowledge harvesting.
I was excited when I was invited to participate in the Knowledge Management Share Fair, which took place from April 13th to 15th, 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania. I knew the Share Fair would not only enhance my knowledge on the use of different knowledge management techniques and tools, but would also provide me opportunities to build new working relationships with participants from other countries.
The Share Fair was well organized, and the sessions were very relevant to what I do at my workplace. One of the things I liked most was the way the organizers themselves encouraged the application of different knowledge management techniques during presentations and other knowledge-sharing activities. Some of these techniques, like knowledge cafés, small group discussions, and storytelling, were very useful as they gave us more time to learn and to share experiences on different aspects of knowledge management.
I was among the participants who presented at the Share Fair, as I was asked to share the USAID ASSIST Project’s experience in conducting “knowledge harvesting” in Tanzania. It was a great experience and opportunity to inform colleagues from 14 countries how our project is harvesting key learning from demonstration sites and how we package that learning for dissemination.
My presentation, as well as others that took place at same time, was part of a knowledge café, a knowledge management technique that brings people together for open conversation. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into key strategic questions (Common Knowledge Associates, 2012).
Knowledge café, also called world café, provides people with the opportunity to move between tables or rooms and to contribute to the topic or subject presented by facilitators. The facilitators circulate and link conversations among participants. As they move, they take new insights to each group. I facilitated three knowledge café sessions, which lasted about 30 minutes each. During every session, I introduced participants to the concept of knowledge harvesting and shared ASSIST’s experience in conducting knowledge harvests in Tanzania. After introductions, I invited participants to share their organization’s experience in conducting knowledge harvests or similar activities.
Very few participants were familiar with knowledge harvesting. Some said they had been doing this kind of activity, but not calling it knowledge harvesting. Most participants wanted to know how a knowledge harvest differs from monitoring and evaluation, as the two seemed similar. After in-depth discussions, participants agreed to the fact that knowledge harvesting is more about what worked and ensuring that previous mistakes are not repeated, while monitoring and evaluation is more about meeting indicators. However, there is an added value to information collected via a knowledge harvest, because it provides important details that may be missed during monitoring and evaluation. We must also remember that knowledge harvesting is important for replication and scale-up of best practices.
All in all, participants responded well to the sessions. Most of them were impressed with the topic and requested documents and websites where they could dig more deeply into conducting knowledge harvests. I think it would help others to include the topic of knowledge harvesting in future share fairs.
The Arusha Share Fair was an amazing opportunity for participants to not only learn more about applying knowledge management techniques and tools in their work, but also to appreciate the importance of knowledge management in improving outcomes in global health programs.
This blog post was originally published on the K4Health website on July 11, 2016. It is available at: https://www.k4health.org/blog/post/harvesting-knowledge-km-share-fair