Cooking up Knowledge Management: Recipes for Practitioners


This blog post first appeared on K4Health Highlights on March 13, 2014, and is authored by Angela Nash-Mercado, formerly JHU-CCP Partnerships Director.

K4Health and the WASHplus Project hosted “Cooking Up Knowledge Management: Recipes for Practitioners” at the 2014 Global Health Mini-University.

On Friday, March 7th, the Knowledge for Health Project and WASHplus teamed up to offer USAID Mini-University participants a taste of knowledge management. Peggy D’Adamo, USAID, opened the session with a reminder that peer-to-peer learning is a powerful way to share, replicate and scale-up what works in development. She spoke of how KM can be part of a change process that can help to overcome bottlenecks, inspire collaboration and generate innovative solutions to problems in our daily work. In the spirit of KM, the session was conducted in a knowledge café style to allow for dialogue on a number of KM topics. A rich discussion took place with participants and some “Knowledge Nuggets” or “Key Ingredients” from each topic emerged: 

Data Visualization

  • Data visualization is an art.
  • Structure and storytelling should come first.
  • Know your audience and their background.
  • Pre-test your data visualization with your target audience to ensure it is communicating the right message.

Blended Learning

  • Blended learning is a mix of media and environments – it is not new, just more purposeful
  • Learning should be flexible and adaptable.
  • Be aware of generational divides with technology.
  • Use feedback loops to meet user needs – for example with surveys.

Monitoring and Evaluation of KM

  • The KM Logic Model is flexible and can be applied to various programs
  • Define clearly “knowledge” that you intend to measure.
  • Identify “knowledge outputs” before designing specific measurements.
  • Selection of indicators is often driven by donor and program priorities.

Usability, Readability and Curation

  • Put knowledge where people will see it when they need it.
  • Use appropriate language and avoid jargon.
  • Know your audience and level of expertise.
  • Get to the point to avoid the “too long/didn’t read” effect! 

Integrating Social Media into Organizational KM

  • Redefine role of knowledge manager/social media strategist.
  • Build a business case for social media to drum up organizational support.
  • Develop your social media workflow.
  • It’s not about reaching so many people, it’s about reaching the right people.
  • Not everyone has an always-on, always-connected lifestyle; so keep up the “dark sharing” i.e. emailing.

Managing Knowledge Across Boundaries

  • Managing across boundaries requires dedicated staff and commitment from leadership.
  • Were KM sits in your organization makes a difference.
  • Sometimes simple tools and methods work the best.
  • Demonstrate effective knowledge management methods to build a culture of sharing  and (good examples makes it seem easier).
  • Look for champions at different levels to help facilitate the flow of knowledge and information.

For me, I always enjoy the opportunity to have conversations about the issues individuals and organizations face in knowledge management. This session was a reminder that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to KM but there are some common lessons we can all learn from.