Thursday, January 22, 2009

Session Report: Knowledge Sharing within Teams by Simone Staiger-Rivas

Session: Knowledge Sharing within Teams
Facilitator: Guenter Hemrich
Reporter: Simone Staiger-Rivas
Room: Canada Room
Time: 22 January, 13:45 - 15:00

I presented the KS workshop at the session on KS for Teams.

I was surprised and perhaps a bit disappointed that the session focused so much on tools and less on KS and teamwork as a process and the principles of it.

Here is a summary of the session:

The first presenter, Thierry Benoit from IFAD, claimed that when he came from the field to bureaucracy he realized how little knowledge staff had about IFADs own projects. He considers each project having its own value Chain which goes from evaluation to KM to Communication. That is why the M&E system has to be strengthened so that KM issue can be identified and communication processes improved and fine tuned. Benoit asks each of his project teams to have its own website and to work along a Project Knowledge Pyramid that links the project value chain to HQ as well as to local governments and users. He insists in the use of tools like YouTube or Google, or any other media to show his teams that they are able to produce relevant Knowledge. ¨It is amazing how the local teams were strengthened through this process¨ he said.

In my presentation of the workshop I highlighted the action learning principle of our concept where participants get to understand their context better through a Social Networking Analysis and select a project or issue related to their work and to which they would like to apply the learnings. The workshop is a team exercise in itself where each online session or face to face dynamic unfolds using KS tools, methods and principles.

Nicholas MacGowan von Holstein presented us Twidox, a document uploading tool that allows organization to create digital repositories and libraries.

Wolfgang Prante introduced us to the context in which he developed a team working and information sharing tool for a internal division at FAO. The software allows the team members to share information, keep documents, to have online discussions and more. First feedback is positive, also the team uses more the information sharing features of the application then the interactive ones (forums, blogs)

Johannes Keizer from FAO brought up his case about the moment when he wanted to create a better work environment through an online tool where his team was asked to share their work. The first attempt was quite a failure as he admits and the application was called The Devil as it created an atmosphere of competition and also because the media wiki was not the right tool. Johannes didn’t give up but changed his strategy. He decided to change the tool and to use it just for himself at first, and sharing the updates with the team who could join, but this time it was not mandatory. The tool is a HTTP setup that all FAO can see, which a login for team members, and a mash up of news, the colleagues own blogs, and a tagging system that allows to retrieve content easily

In the discussion a question was about how to help users to get tool to be used and how much discipline should have to use the same tool. I was happy to be able to make my point on the need to build trust in a team through strong f2f interaction, which allows the team then to feel more comfortable in their online interaction. I was also emphasizing that in my experience it is much more efficient to choose one tool per purpose, even with the risk to have to use multiple tools within a team, rather than trying to find or develop the “one tool that does everything”. Finally my third point was to build on the strengths of a team-champion who is excited about team work and who the others trust and follow in the exploration and adoption of tools and approaches this person suggests.

At the end of the session we went around the circle to summarize some important points for the participants, as:
  • There are many tools: which one is right?
  • We can strengthen teams by showing them that they can produce relevant Knowledge
  • We need to build trust. No trust, no team work.
  • The right tool is the tool you like
  • There are many tools but you need to control your time and have a clear purpose
  • Choose the right tool for the right job
  • I feel dizzy by the number of tools out there
  • For KS to happen we need a cultural change in our bureaucracies
  • Choose the tool and adapt it to people’s way of working
  • Life is an experiment
  • Tools work better when there is trust among the team members
  • Team work is not easy. We need tools

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