Showing posts from 2014

What remains after the bonfire: How do we define success of an event?

During the last few weeks I was heavily involved with the SHIFT Week of Innovation Action , a series of parallel events taking place in 21 different country offices. Over 50 practitioners were invited to ‘shift’ from one country office to another to share their experience on innovation methodologies and what they learned from their ongoing innovation projects (many of them funded by UNDP’s Innovation Facility ), learn from others, and ‘shift mindsets’ in the process. As part of the team that coordinated the event week I was in awe of the incredible energy coming from country office colleagues and the enthusiasm, creativity and time commitment on the side of organizers, participants, and the coordination team here in New York. And from the feedback that has been rolling in so far (the evaluation survey shows about 95% of participants were satisfied or very satisfied with the event) it seems the SHIFT initiative was a success all around. Yet, we all remember other instances of w

Rethinking knowledge products after the 'PDF shock': Make them leaner, faster, and never without the community!

Since the World Bank published its report early this month which states that over 30% of its policy reports have never been downloaded even once (!) and only 13 percent of policy reports were downloaded at least 250 times, a fascinating debate on the purpose and value of knowledge products is flourishing the web, and the posts from KM practitioners all over keep pouring in. It’s not just the World Bank, but most international organizations Interestingly, I have been thinking about exactly the same questions for the last 9 months now as I was drafting UNDP’s new Knowledge Management Strategy for the upcoming years. Here’s a passage which captures UNDPs own dilemma regarding knowledge products: “ The current process of knowledge product definition, development, dissemination and measurement does not yield the quality, reach and impact that is needed for UNDP to be a thought leader in development.” The Strategy goes on to stress that UNDP intends to revise its process of planni

Kick-starting Innovation in Response to the Syria Crisis: A Peer Assist Conversation with Arndt Husar and George Hodge

In November 2013 I got deployed for 3 months  to Amman  on a consulting assignment to support the setup of UNDP’s Sub-Regional Response Facility for the crisis in Syria. A key role of the Facility is to operationalize the Strategic Plan’s key area of ‘Resilience’ in an environment of crisis by marrying the humanitarian response for Syria with a development response. So far there has been a primarily humanitarian angle to the Syria crisis, with OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and FAO leading the response efforts in the region. UNDP’s interest in this situation is to widen the perspective and highlight that there is a dramatic development cost for Syria’s neighbor countries Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, which deal with the largest refugee movement since the WWII. Given that most refugees are not staying in camps are embedded in host communities with families and friends, the host communities face a heavy strain on local services such as access to housing, water, sanitation, health care, education a

Figuring out where to begin: How to do KM for a start-up business unit (Part 3)

Following my  earlier posts  on my assignment with the Sub-Regional Response Facility for Syria in Amman, Jordan, where we identified the general directions for KM for this business unit, here are now the details of the KM plan that I introduced, based on our earlier needs assessment. 1.   An Online Collaboration Space for the Facility, targeted at the Regional Working Group and invited guests To support of the Facility’s role as a broker, the creation of an online collaboration space hosted by the Sub-Regional Facility will allow the team to provide an online home for the Regional UNDG Working Group for the Arab States/MENA to share draft papers and relevant resources on an ongoing basis. Even more it creates a space to discuss questions and collect comments from colleagues on the Facility’s ongoing work. In the spirit of ‘working out loud’ we will also invite a number of selected colleagues from all UNDG agencies into this space. 2.   Establishment of a UNDG-wide Communit

Figuring out where to begin: How to do KM for a start-up business unit (Part 2)

Following my earlier post on my assignment with the Sub-Regional Response Facility for Syria in Amman, Jordan, I'd like to follow up with the results of the needs assessment that we conducted, and the resulting directions for knowledge management that the Facility identified for itself. Role and audience as prioritized by the Facility After exploring the potential roles, audiences and challenges of the Facility, its mandate, the management of the Facility defined the Facility’s role and audience for 2014-15 as follows: The Facility sees its knowledge management role in brokering partnerships and exchanges, and facilitating innovation on the issue of a resilience-based development in context of the Syria crisis. It will do so by also facilitating, investing in and drawing on data-driven catalytic research and development, however, it does not see itself as a research institution.   In terms of audience, it will take an incremental approach over time in which it w

Figuring out where to begin: How to do KM for a start-up business unit (Part 1)

How do you do knowledge management (KM) when you’re a start up? When the identity of your business unit is still in the making? And when you’re not sure what KM has to offer for what you want to achieve? You bring in someone to help set up the unit, define your role in terms of KM and explain the KM options you have. That’s what the Head of the Sub-Regional Response Facility for Syria in Amman did, requesting a KM expert from headquarters who can assist them in this task on short notice (like, the following week?), and I raised my hand…  In reality, it still took about six weeks until I received the call for deployment end of November. To give some context: Three years into the Syria crisis, the civil war has wreaked havoc in the country, killing over 125,000 people and leading to 2.3 million refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and North Africa, putting a heavy strain of those countries’ public services, employment situation and social cohesion among the hos