Questioning the IKM-Emergent pointers en français : Mais de quoi parle-t-on ?

A belated post but a lot happened in the last six or sevent weeks.

At the dawn of that period was an interesting moment of organising an entire day for the Francophones, generously sponsored by IKM-Emergent as a testimony of its will to walk its talk on the multiple knowledge’s – or shall I say les connaissances multiples?

The day (5 October) was split in two discussions (*): in the morning (and halfway through the afternoon) the participants grappled with setting up a francophone community of practice for KM4DEV. In the second half of the afternoon we also engaged with the discussion topics that matter for IKM-Emergent, the more obvious topic of this post.

Anyway it was an interesting day as it engaged a different group of people on the topics of interest for IKM-Emergent. Mike gave a good verbal preamble to the discussions and we then split up in 3 world café tables to grapple with ‘les connaissances locales (et leur transmission)’, ‘les objets informationnels’ and ‘la gestion des connaissances’.

Three groups - three grapplings

Local knowledge seems to have been quite inspirational and tackled the highbrow issues of gender, equity, power relations with donors, capacity development and intergenerational dialogue. The group ended however recommending very practically to document local knowledge as much as possible.

Information artifacts initially did not go down so well, because the very term ‘objets d’information’ raised confusion and triggered a lot of questions, which were resolved by agreeing on the term ‘supports d’information’ (the types of information products e.g. books, flyers, movies, emails). From there the participants discussed the necessity of synthesising and tagging documents to allow a faster consumption, as a reflection of changing information practices.

Discussion de (world) cafe: c'est quoi un objet informationnel?

Attached to my knowledge management table I could not take part to those discussions and would encourage anyone who did to share their opinion and shed more light on what was discussed.

In the meantime, on our KM table, we discussed all kinds of issues related to the  management of knowledge and actually what this all means: what is knowledge, what is management? (ah, don’t we love to talk about concepts among francophones!). We went through some stages of the knowledge cycle (development, use, validation). The aspect of validation was quite interesting as it triggered a lot of concerned reactions: are we talking of applying an ISO seal of quality on knowledge? In fact the discussion on the validation was more about: whose knowledge / whose reality? (thank you Mike for this brilliant title) and the conditions to ensure that relevant knowledge is taken into account.

Of all stages in the knowledge cycle, sharing took a prominent place as a means to enrich knowledge, adapt it to contexts, document it and apply it. The link with the central concept of learning – and its absence from a lot of knowledge management discussions – was highlighted as crucial.

And finally the participants came up with a series of recommendations for outputs that could be useful, including a comparative study of organisations that shout around that they do KM and organisations that do it without necessarily being aware of it or showing it, as well as a study to examine priority-setting and development of development programmes by donors and large international organisations (to look critically at the inclusion of multiple knowledges – or expectedly of their exclusion).

All in all, of course it was a rather superficial run through the issues – what can you hope to achieve in two hours? – but still useful in the sense of picking people’s brains on potential questions and practical activities to work on each of the IKM strands. Furthermore, tt’s way too early to detect any pattern of discussion that may differ from any such discussion held in Anglophone circles. That said, the SA-GE francophone discussion group is now up and running and will provide an excellent platform to examine how discussions flare up and what track they are following.

The francophone creation group

So keep watching that space – or more appropriately: restez en ligne ! Les francophones débarquent.


The report of both discussions are available (in French) on the documentation wiki page for the event: as well as in the ‘resources’ section on the francophone group page on the KM4DEV website:

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