Developing and Sharing Knowledge at the Macro Level
It is often my contention that the work being done in what we’re calling “the knowledge domain” grows more innovative daily, and often on a larger, more societal scale. KD/KS is not limited to what happens in an individual group or corporation. Indeed, one of my best friends often speaks about the “great potential” (as she puts it) for KD/KS to change the world.
[Was it not ever thus? How did we get off track?]
OK. Perhaps “changing the world” is going a little far, but we’re getting close when we see the reports of innovative knowledge sharing in different societies. Highly recommended: Innovation in Government: Kenya and Georgia, the latest report from McKinsey Quarterly. [Note: the link might require registration but go ahead and register – you want to see what McKinsey is writing about anyway.]
In the report, “Kenya’s open-data plan” is described by Elana Berkowitz and Renee Paradise, and we’ll quote the abstract here:
Challenge: Nearly 40 percent of Kenyans live on less than $2 a day, and corruption is still cited as an ongoing challenge for citizens and businesses. But the World Bank has reported that if Kenya can sustain its recent growth rate, it is on track to become a lower-middle-income country in the next decade. And a new constitution establishes the citizen’s right to access government information – a right that must now be implemented.
Emerging solution: Kenya this summer became the first African country to launch an open-data portal, with previously difficult-to-access government information on education, energy, health, population, poverty, and water and sanitation. Only a few countries (including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have launched major data portals. Kenya has also signed on to the Open Government Partnership, launched by US president Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly in September 2011.
In the same report, Renee Paradise and Ken Schwartz write about “Georgia’s ‘one-stop shop’ for citizens and businesses.” Here’s the abstract:
Challenge: To help establish its legitimacy quickly after the 2003 Rose Revolution, Georgia’s government needed to boost its revenues. Citizens expected a rapid turnaround in the quality and delivery of services. Businesses wanted to see measurable results before investing. As President Mikheil Saakashvili took office, the World Bank, citing onerous regulations and corruption, ranked Georgia 137th out of 153 countries as a place for doing business.
Emerging solution: To deliver high-quality public services efficiently and to streamline regulatory and licensing processes for businesses, the government created customer-oriented, high-tech “one stop shops.” After waging a major anti-corruption campaign, the administration turned to service delivery strategies common in the private sector: financial incentives to improve performance and the eliminatin of bureaucratic silos and paperwork.
– September 30, 2011
Guy St. Clair says
Douglas Widener at the Knowledge Management LinkedIn Group notes:
KM isn’t just popping up in Kenya, but in the Sudan as well.
See “Workshop on Knowledge Management Capacity in Africa – January 4 – 7, 2012”, with the theme of Harnessing Tools for Development and Innovation. It is sponsored by the University of Khartoum and other universities (Garden City College for Science and Technology) and major corporate participants. They don’t have a web site yet, but have been publicizing this event for a while on their blog: kmca2012.blogspot.com
Guy St. Clair replies:
Thanks, Douglas for alerting us to this. Important work going on, and I’m really so pleased that we’re working in this direction nowadays.
Abid Ali says
It is interesting and good to see that developing countries are realizing the importance of knowledge sharing and are actually taking steps to implement it at the national level.
Guy St. Clair says
Douglas Widener at the Knowledge Management LinkedIn Group:
I’m teaching CKM in Malaysia this week. Many developing country participants – Bangladesh, Rwanda (recall 1994 genocide), etc. of 22.
I see developing countries and agencies as next big KM need. Both much needed and appreciated..
Guy St. Clair responds:
Good luck with your sessions.
When you get time sometime, report to us about the process, what the students are interested in, how the discussions go, and all that kind of thing.
I believe our colleagues would be interested in knowing if there are any major “differences” or considerations in teaching KM/knowledge services/knowledge strategy in these different international environments.
My work in this area has turned up some interesting perspectives and I expect yours has as well.
All the best, Guy
Guy St. Clair says
Tony Saadat at the KM/Knowledge Services Linked in Group wrote:
Thank you SMR. Keep it up!
Guy St. Clair responds:
Thanks, Tony. This is really important work, and when I think about all the gloom-and-doom noise being put forward about how bad things are, well, this is sort of a beacon in the darkness, isn’t it? [Excuse the cliche!] It’s seeing news like this that has me agreeing with Kenneth Lasson of Baltimore MD in a letter in the latest New Yorker:
“Current naysayers are premature in chronicling our demise. The United States is a country continuously struggling for its soul, a land of both eternal promise and paradox. We’ve pursued – and largely achieved – a greater degree of genuine civil liberty than any other nation on earth. That is and always will be one true measure of our prosperity.”
And as this and the recent SMR post about the Gates Foundation and its work with the Arid Lands Information Network, we are still a people genuinely committed to sharing that prosperity.
Paula Cohen says
Just as I saw your posting on the ubiquitous KS/KD practices to global concerns I came across another great example. What caught my eye was the use of Knowledge Exchanges, typically associated with KS in the enterprise, to address climate change concerns in remote Siberia. The research project led by Susan A. Crate in Siberian Republic of Sakha, (Natural History, May 2011, We are going underwater: Siberian villagers show the world what global climate change means, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_5_119/ai_n57667616/pg_5/) where she organized a series of “Knowledge Exchanges” to help villagers understand the dramatic changes to their land was due to global climate change.
“Our task now is to integrate local and regional knowledge and to share it more broadly among
the region’s inhabitants and beyond. Our primary goals in this integration are both to bolster
Sakha understandings and adaptations and to inform the science and policy communities
about how climate change is affecting local environments and cultures.”
In the course of a researching the impacts of climate change to the land in the remote Siberian region of Sakha, Susan Crate discovered unanimous concern among villagers to understand the changes in weather patterns, temperature, landscape and the like affecting the physical environment as well as villagers mythological or cosmological adaptation to the environment. Additionally, the research team hoped to bring local observations and understanding to the regional science community.
As the research team explored ways to help villagers understand the phenomena of climate change, they settled on “Knowledge Exchanges” as the most effective technique to relay an awareness of the role played by climate change, to promote new adaptation strategies, bolster survival and ally some of the psychological distress of the villagers.
The Knowledge Exchanges were held in four rural villages over a three-year period focusing on collecting information, observations, and perceptions of the causes of changes through interviews and focus groups.
Getting the Knowledge Exchanges off the ground and engaging the villagers was accomplished by recruiting
a regional scientific consultant, a native of the region that was experiencing the climate change and flooding, and
by inviting audience participants to talk about changes they had all been observing.
For details of the Knowledge Exchanges as well as impacts of climate change on the area, click the link to the full article.
A sampling of Susan Crate’s current climate change research includes questions that are at the forefront for all information professionals such as: What information is worth knowing, and how can it be most effectively presented? What are the most effective ways of reaching various audiences with climate change information of value to them?
In the remote and isolated Siberian villages where traditional livelihoods were literally washed away by floods, the Knowledge Exchanges proved to be a most innovative approach to address mysterious change.