Lessons learned for effective knowledge management: the case of USAID Climatelinks
Climatelinks.org is USAID’s external knowledge-sharing platform for climate and development practitioners. From 2018-2023, the USAID Sharing and Environment and Energy Knowledge (SEEK) project managed Climatelinks. As SEEK came to a close earlier this year, USAID and the SEEK Climatelinks team generated several lessons learned and key insights in effective knowledge management (KM) that can support future programs, including the Advancing Capacity for the Environment (ACE) program that now manages the site.
USAID and SEEK identified the following four overarching lessons in KM that are relevant for future efforts like ACE. By incorporating these lessons into their own KM practices, USAID and implementing partners can contribute to effective KM for improved knowledge-sharing in any sector.
STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR EFFECTIVENESS: Good KM outcomes result from a holistic approach to strategic planning.
Effective KM stems from thoughtful planning that integrates known trends about the intended audience with best practices for making information accessible. Effective KM also involves integration with other teams; when using the generate-capture-share-apply framework for KM, efforts across workstreams become naturally intertwined. SEEK employed strategic plans and feedback loops, focused on building user engagement, and coordinated outreach and dissemination with other teams to achieve effective KM.
USING DATA FOR DECISION-MAKING: Make using data for decision-making a regular habit so it becomes business as usual.
While putting strategies into practice is essential for successful KM, it also is critical for KM practitioners to track results to measure the effectiveness of their KM practices. By coupling strategic plans for audience engagement, site redesign, and dissemination with regular, tailored analytics reporting and discussions, Climatelinks became a data-savvy site in which data-based decisions drove key initiatives.
USING INTENTIONAL SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES: Using, tracking, and intentionally following a generate-capture-share-apply framework drives insight, innovation, and greater effectiveness.
After using analytics to measure effectiveness, KM teams often need to course-correct and try new approaches. On Climatelinks, systems and processes that support the regular push-pull of KM were instrumental to successful KM. Templates, a Governance Manual, and a shared email were just some of the systems and processes the team used to work together effectively throughout the KM cycle.
COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIPS FOR GREATER REACH: Collaborative partnerships are key to achieving cross-cutting, far-reaching results.
Collaboration with different teams helps elevate the impact of KM efforts. It also aligns messaging, strengthens approaches, and sparks innovation. Climatelinks not only developed and nurtured strong relationships across many USAID offices, sectors, projects, implementing partners, and other USAID “Links” sites, but made sure this collaboration was embedded in site practices and guiding documents.