Many international organizations seeking to contribute solutions to global challenges and policy problems are struggling to disseminate their reports and other “knowledge products.” A recent article in the Washington Post (“The solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs that nobody reads”) highlights a situation common to the World Bank. Simply put, it seems like relatively few people are downloading the Bank’s reports.
However, the Washington Post missed an important point: It isn't just external organizations that are missing out on reading World Bank publications. Nearly all large and medium organizations are struggling to find a way to make it easy for their own employees to find and incorporate institutional knowledge into their decision making. This is not for lack of effort.
Organizations like the World Bank take proactive steps to disseminate their knowledge. They publish knowledge products (e.g., project reports, lessons learned, good practices, and learning materials) on search-enabled websites and online communities, mention them in email newsletters to opt-in subscriber lists, announce them on social media sites, and talk about them in webinars and conferences.
Despite these steps, employees still spend hours each day searching for and requesting data, information, expertise, and institutional knowledge that would inform their business decisions and work processes.
Developing a Knowledge Diffusion Strategy
Few organizations have a Knowledge Diffusion Strategy designed to help them strategically and systematically deliver knowledge to the right people at the right time in the right decision and process context. Yet to maximize the success of their projects and their impact on the field, organizations need to be strategic about the diffusion of knowledge. A strategy for knowledge diffusion should address culture, leadership, process, learning, and technology dimensions. Developing this strategy should be a collaborative effort that includes participants from all relevant groups that produce and consume your knowledge products. These stakeholders need to be involved with:
- Formulating strategic objectives, operational goals, and measures of effectiveness for knowledge dissemination.
- Modeling the organization as a system of goals, processes, tasks, participating organizations and roles, decisions, events (that trigger action), information inputs, required knowledge, skills, attitudes, IT, knowledge product outputs, metrics, problems, risks and opportunities.
- Information flow map visualizations like the ones used in Channels, our patented information sharing planning methodology and software can be used to help depict information sharing, access, and knowledge dissemination processes.
- Understanding various factors associated with each knowledge product type, including:
- Their purpose and intended effect
- How they are produced
- To whom, when and how they are distributed
- How people have reacted to them in the past
- Relevant readership metrics
- Potential measures of “influence” or “impact”
- Outlining best practices in learning, innovation, and knowledge management that can be integrated into processes.
Mind-Alliance is actively working on a software solution to support knowledge diffusion that automatically delivers the information you need, when you need it, so you can spend more time on value-adding analysis, and less on finding and filtering information.