“These priorities will now be translated into activities tobring us in a ‘learning mode’ that will contribute to the quality of our work.”
With this sentence I closed my first blog in September. This month I have been studying and experimenting different ways in which I can put the Burundi office in a learning mode with more staff interaction and better links between the different activities that HealthNet TPO implements.
In the Burundian (working) culture where oral traditions are more common than written and where people are modest and not very open it is an interesting task to find out what works and what not in terms of knowledge sharing, capture and application.
One of the first objectives that the Burundi staff formulated is: ‘To improve the knowledge of the staff on all the aspects of knowledge management (KM)’. To do that we can a.o. make use of the so called KM tools: Tools that facilitate the flow of knowledge across an organization. They can help linking people with other people and information, they can support collaborative working and they can promote techniques to capture and share knowledge. It brings learning and knowledge sharing into practice.
An example of a KM tool for sharing and application is the peer assist: peer assist is about gaining input and insight from experts or other people outside the team to re-use and re-apply existing knowledge and experience. People can use a peer assist before starting a new project or activity in order to avoid repetition of mistakes. Another example for knowledge exchange is a case study: a case study is a narrative recording of a project or an important part of a project. It brings out key qualitative and quantitative information that is often being published and shared with a broad audience. The objective is to record the learning and best practices from a project so that others can benefit. A more oral form of sharing knowledge is storytelling, a way of putting stories or experiences in words or images, often by improvisation. Stories have been shared in every culture as means of entertainment, education or cultural preservation.
I will organize several half day trainings in the coming months to let my colleagues put certain tools into practice so that they can experiment with it and experience what best fits them. It will make them more aware of the different ways of how to use knowledge and what knowledge is about. I am curious about the outcomes and the learning experiences of my Burundian colleagues. Which tools will render the best results and can we venture beyond their own cultural ways of sharing? For sure, it’s going to be a challenge to make the effective management of knowledge an essential part of the office’s work. A year is short. Let‘s get it started!
Marieke van der Vliet
Marieke van der Vliet - Knowledge Management Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region at HealthNet TPO
Background: Marieke has a background in International Relations (University of Groningen) and Development Studies (CIDIN, Nijmegen). Before she started within HealthNet TPO, she worked for the Dutch NGOs Maatwerk bij Terugkeer as a Programme Officer and for VluchtelingenWerk Nederland as an International Officer.
Currently Marieke is stationed in Bujumbura, Burundi, to coordinate a PSO funded Knowledge Management project that covers the HealthNet TPO programmes in Burundi, the DR Congo and South Sudan.