Lessons learned for effective knowledge management: the case of the USAID Biodiversity Division
In working collaboratively with the Sharing Environment and Energy Knowledge (SEEK) project and other mechanisms, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Biodiversity Division identified lessons learned and best practices for supporting effective knowledge management (KM) at each phase of the KM cycle (generate, capture, share, apply).
Overall, the Biodiversity Division found that effective KM is best-served through the integration of strong processes, tools, and approaches to organize efforts, track data, and leverage information on how best to serve target audiences and their needs. To this end, the Biodiversity Division developed a KM strategy and approach, aligned KM efforts with communications goals, and developed central trackers, templates, and approaches that allowed KM work to be well-organized and quickly implemented.
In addition, implementing partners can integrate the following lessons learned into their KM work:
GENERATE: Meaningful engagement with audiences and a design-thinking, data-informed approach enables implementers to produce a more tailored and effective approach to KM.
Good KM practices prioritize knowing the target audience and its needs. A strong understanding of these two factors ensures knowledge generated is recorded, shared, and used in ways that resonate with the intended audience. This understanding is best achieved through a design-thinking approach in which the users and their experiences are central.
CAPTURE: Incorporating findings and relevant information into an iterative plan for capturing knowledge that resonates with your audience is the foundation of good knowledge capture.
While knowing the target audience and its needs is critical for successful KM, KM practitioners also should have an intimate understanding of available knowledge products and gaps in meeting the audience’s needs. Knowledge is only as good as the format in which it is captured, so it is important to understand the best formats and methods for capturing and storing information to enable effective knowledge-sharing and application.
SHARE: Effectively sharing knowledge with target audiences must be integrated with knowledge-sharing methods that resonate. Tracking, analytics, and direct engagement with audiences helps identify the best methods for sharing.
After knowledge relevant to the target audience is generated and captured effectively, it needs to be shared. Using the appropriate channels, resources, and tools to disseminate knowledge is key to ensuring its uptake and application. These channels should complement how intended audiences want to gain access to information and the forms in which the knowledge is captured. Sharing can be amplified through collaboration with other stakeholders or across work streams to tap into different subsets of the intended audience and by closely tracking and leveraging analytics and data to determine what works best for sharing.
APPLY: Employing best practices across the KM cycle contributes to knowledge application, supporting a holistic approach to KM that meets key messaging goals and helps target audiences leverage knowledge.
Knowledge is generated, captured, and shared with the intent to enable target audiences to apply it. As a result, effective KM practices are successful when users are able to apply what they’ve learned. Application is the result of thoughtful integration of best practices for generation, capture, and sharing and should help drive adjustments in generation, capture, and sharing to ensure knowledge is best positioned for use and uptake by the target audience.