At the IKM table: linearity, participation, accountability and individual agency on the practice-based change menu (1)

(Originally posted on KM for me… and You?)

On 20 and 21 February 2012, the  London-based Wellcome Collection is the stage for the final workshop organised by the Information Knowledge Management Emergent (IKM-Emergent or ‘IKM-E’) programme. Ten IKM-E members are looking at the body of work completed in the past five years in this DGIS-funded research programme and trying to unpack four key themes that are interweaving the work of the three working groups which have been active in the programme:

  1. Linearity and predictability;
  2. Participation and engagement;
  3. Individual agency and organisational remit;
  4. Accountability

This very rich programme is also a tentative intermediary step towards a suggested extension for the programme.

In this post I’m summarising quite a few of the points mentioned during the first day of the workshop, covering the first two points on the list above.

On linearity and predictability:

Linear approaches to development – suggesting that planning is a useful exercise to map out and follow a predictable causal series of events – are delusional and ineffective and we have other perspectives that can help plan with a higher degree of realism, if not certainty.

Linearity and predictability strongly emphasise the current (and desired alternative) planning tools that we have at our disposal or are sometimes forced to use, and the relation that we entertain with the actors promoting these specific planning tools.

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Towards Knowledge Democracy conference (1): Bibliometrics

Last week, Iina Hellsten of the Athena Institute and I made a presentation at the Towards Knowledge Democracy conference on the subject of ‘Development cooperation: bibliometric approach to examine knowledge and communications.’

Below you should see the embedded presentation from Slideshare (and if this works it is a really nice feature!)

In this presentation, we really only presented the very first part of our collaboration to which Iina provides the knowledge of the methodologies of bibliometrics (citation analysis and semantics maps etc) and I provide some understanding of development cooperation. I’m very excited about the potential of this approach to make visible the invisible structures of knowledge and communication across the development field. Continue reading

The importance of being… repositories

Just lately I have been hunting down quite a lot of publications, both official and grey or informal ones, and this has brought home to me, more than ever, the pressing need to preserve the documentary record of development practice. As Ewen Leborgne and I commented in a very recent paper on knowledge management strategies of organisations, many approaches to knowledge management are not fully documented:

The paper is only able to offer a glimpse of the current reality or the tip of the iceberg. This is because what is happening in organisations is not fully documented. Not only are experiences with knowledge management often not published – they remain for internal use only – where they are published, this is often in the form of grey literature which is by its nature less easily accessible and less permanent. Two initiatives which have made efforts to document what is happening in organisations: the organisational case studies collected by the Knowledge Management for Development (KM4Dev) community of practice and which are available on its website and the related Knowledge Management for Development Management Journal…The importance of these two sources is reflected in the references.

As background to the paper, Ewen Leborgne and I have made an inventory of organisational case studies which we will continue to add to and which is fully accessible to all.

But this does not preclude the need for document repositories because documents on the web – particularly grey literature – is not going to remain there for ever. And without this record we can’t get better and learn from what happened before. Continue reading