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How can Outcome Mapping help strengthen knowledge and learning strategies? Ben Ramalingam

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Presentation on theme: "How can Outcome Mapping help strengthen knowledge and learning strategies? Ben Ramalingam"— Presentation transcript:

1 How can Outcome Mapping help strengthen knowledge and learning strategies? Ben Ramalingam

2 Why are knowledge strategies so popular? Evaluation lessons being ignored Consultant reports getting buried Research being bypassed Operational / field experience being lost when staff move on Organisational learning being blocked by hierarchies or internal structures Agencies not knowing what each other are doing Local stakeholders being left out of the loop

3 In an ideal (corporate) world knowledge and learning initiatives would look something like this… “…The idea is not to create an encyclopaedia of everything that everybody knows, but to keep track of people who ‘know the recipe’, and nurture the techniques, technology and culture that will get them talking…” Goals Results Using Knowledge Using Knowledge Learn During Learn After Learn Before Knowledge Bases e.g. self, colleagues, systems, networks

4 But development agencies are a little different… Development sector organisations “…dealing with the most complex, ill- defined questions facing humanity…” The re-branding of the World Bank as the Knowledge Bank was very influential Rapid growth of KM / OL strategies across agencies of all sizes and functions ODI has done research on knowledge strategies in a range of organisations

5 Findings Knowledge initiatives are still largely focused on products and systems (outputs) as opposed to processes and behaviour changes (outcomes) A few tools are being applied, but none in a widespread or systematic way Knowledge initiatives are distant from or in conflict with processes, functions and existing culture High-level buy-in and leadership is rare “Knowledge is power” but knowledge strategies often sits on top of existing inefficiencies and power imbalances, rather than resolving them Inter-agency knowledge flows are not covered in any knowledge strategies With the South, dominant modes are “transfer to” or “extract from”, rather than a process of mutual learning Objective, evidence-based M&E of learning is weak

6 Constraints Much knowledge is highly specialist and not of organisation-wide interest Lack of time –Underlying priorities? Internal processes don’t provide contexts for knowledge sharing Lack of a learning culture and incentives –individualistic cultures and funding structures –Knowledge is power Multiple objectives can blur the imperative for knowledge and learning activities –In private sector, coherence of KM is matched by coherence of objectives The incremental nature of behaviour change + relatively new area of work Initiatives over-laden with high expectations and too many activities –At least partly due to “knowledge evangelism” –shopping lists, not strategies

7 Colleagues; networks; tools And so the initiatives we looked at were less like this picture… Goals Results Using Knowledge Using Knowledge Create Share Store

8 And more like this picture…

9 Learn to get all your feet on the ground before trying to move!

10 Outcome Mapping has already helped in (at least!) six ways

11 Lesson one: focus more on contribution to outcomes, rather than attribution! Influence Time

12 = BPs Partners IT HR Knowledge & Learning Program Library Eval Depts = SPs Field staff Admin staff Desk officers Senior Mgmt Donors Media Comms Lesson Two: understanding the boundary partners and strategic partners attitudes and approach is essential

13 Lesson three: move from boundary partners to outcome challenges to progress markers to strategy maps in a participatory fashion

14 Lesson four: Use Organisational Practices systematically to ensure strategies are tailored to existing organisational contexts E.g. 1. Prospecting for new ideas, opportunities, & resources 2. Seeking feedback from key informants 3. Obtaining the support of your next highest power 4. Assessing & (re)designing products, services, systems, and procedures 5. Checking up on those already served to add value 6. Sharing your best wisdom with the world 7.Experimenting to remain innovative 8. Engaging in organizational reflection

15 Lesson five: Use j ournals to address the crucial M&E gap

16 Lesson six: use the flexibility of OM to combine with other compatible methodologies 1.Competency frameworks 2.Social network analysis 3.Force field analysis 4.Most significant change …and more…

17 Problem 1: OM is a little like farming – you have to have faith, be persistent, and adapt to circumstances…

18 Problem 2: top-down decision making on issues relating to boundary partners feels incongruous with a commitment to OM

19 Problem 3: The role of knowledge and learning specialists is not as a technocrat / doctor but as a sparkplug

20 FINAL THOUGHT Focus on contribution, not attribution is particularly important in the context of knowledge for development - “whose knowledge counts”

21 Thank you for listening! Ben Ramalingam

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