Knowledge sharing, learning and capacity building


“I believe knowledge is a social construct, and that organisations are networks of conversations. 21st Century organisations must be adept at knowledge management and learning.

Developing knowledge sharing and learning events and processes is a poorly understood and highly complex craft. It involves policy development in translating values and aspirations into pragmatic policies that staff can implement. It also involves negotiation, research, writing, creating safe environments, leadership, motivation, and creativity.

Increasingly ‘mixed methods’ are being employed that ‘blend’: e-learning, text, stories, images, video, face-to-face workshops, on-the-job learning, coaching and peer networks. I believe there is and always be a crucial role to be played by events that bring people together.

“Knowledge Management shouldn’t be about helping us to know more. It should be about helping us to understand. So, how do we understand things? It’s through stories that we understand how the world works”.
David Weinberger, The Cluetrain Manifesto

“Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes”.
Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

“The kind of conversation I’m interested in is one in which you start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person”.
Theodore Zeldin, Historian

Quality standards

I was the manager of this training program, and from 1999 to 2003 navigated through competing priorities and extreme politicisation to launch the standards on six continents. Along the way, I created a ground-breaking training programme consisting of: workshops that help individuals learn how to intelligently apply the standards in their work; training materials that help facilitators run these workshops; training of trainers courses that help facilitators learn how to use the training materials; and by establishing an international multilingual network of trainers.

Humanitarian co-ordination

For five years I was the lead facilitator for the OCHA Emergency Field Co-ordination Training (EFCT) course. This was the only basic training course for OCHA field staff. I personally researched and developed much of the content for the 8 day residential course. I also worked on the UN-OCHA Humanitarian Information Centres basic training and orientation course.

Mixed-method learning for humanitarian generalist staff

For UNESCO I designed, tested and implemented a training program for a roster of experts who will be deployed by the organisation to transitional environments. This included the creation of a library of stories to document and transmit organisational experience and knowledge.
I am currently developing a new staff development programme for the FAO emergency division which involves mentoring, workshops, and distance e-learning. The key to this program will be the transmission of meta-level information about existing knowledge assets within the organisation, and in the development of knowledge sharing, networking and co-ordination competencies.

Training of facilitators

Increasingly, organisations and individuals want to improve communication, facilitation and mentoring skills. I develop bespoke courses that improve knowledge, skills and attitudes for facilitating adult learning. Participants also become more aware of their individual strengths and weaknesses.
For the Sphere Project, I shepherded the development of the content and led teams that delivered the first six of their flagship global ToT courses. For the Emergency Capacity Building Project, I led a programme of facilitation and programme design that helped a interagency standing team of ‘mentors’ who have been deployed to improve accountability and impact measurement. This work also involves helping the ECB project to learn from its experience. To help CARE International meet its commitment to the ECB, I designed and led a course for its mentors in facilitation skills and approaches.

see Case 4: Capacity building during a crisis – OCHA Nepal

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