Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Lessons learned from review of Communities of Practice / Thematic Knowledge Networks

In mid 2008, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) completed a Review of its experiences with knowledge networks and communities (also called Thematic Knowledge Networks or TKNs). This Review was carried out in collaboration with Nadejda Loumbeva (@nadejdaloumbeva), Lucie Lamoureux and Kristin Kolshus. The results are based on focus groups and interviews so the acknowledgement extends to everyone who participated in the Review.

The Review methodology included a series of focus groups and interview discussions with network sponsors, coordinators and members. Data from the focus groups were qualitative, and the findings were subjected to a SWOT analysis.

The analysis revealed the need to cultivate an understanding of knowledge sharing in the organization, to create incentives for participating in networks and communities, and to support the proliferation and growth of networks and communities with human resources initiatives and appropriate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platforms.

The key lessons learned are summarised below:
  1. Sponsor from top - Ensure that succinct resources are available to create and sustain knowledge networks.
  2. Ensure right blend of membership - Where possible, membership should be at least partly external.
  3. Support demand - Create networks as a response to a real need, rather than in a top-down way.
  4. Develop a business case - Organize consultations with potential network members to establish an appropriate business case for the network.
  5. Facilitate continuously - Provide continuous facilitation for helping and supporting network members to work together and achieve their goals.
  6. Select appropriate methodologies and technologies - One size does not fit all. Different types of networks need different methodologies and technologies.
  7. Recognize staff time - Staff members should be recognized for their contribution to knowledge networks.
  8. Promote - Sponsors and facilitators should share their experiences and promote knowledge networks.
  9. Monitor and evaluate - There should be on-going monitoring and evaluation of knowledge networks.
You can download and read the full report by clicking here.

1 comment:

loumbeva said...

Thank you Gauri! I have just featured your blog post on my blog:

http://loumbeva.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/fao-tkn-review/