Friday, November 10, 2006

A "True" Case of Knowledge Management?

A number of colleagues and I attended a Canadian Government conference last month titled IM Day. This past week, we held an informal meeting / round table discussion with a wider group of colleagues to discuss and share what we had learned.

As I was reviewing my notes from the IM Day conference to prepare for the session - desperately needed as the thoughts swirling around in my head are from the recently attended KMWorld conference - I came across my notes for what I consider to be a real "gem".

This gem was a session delivered by Irving Gold, the Director of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange for the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. (Knowledge Transfer and Exchange is featured prominently on their home page, with a link to a complete section on the topic. It is also highly visible in their strategic plan.)

Other than finding Irving to be an enjoyable, articulate speaker, able to make good connections with the audience, I find he made a very good connection between KM and business goals and objectives, and some of the approaches he mentioned could have merit in other organizations and situations.

He summarized the CHSRF's mission as "funding research, building capacity, and transferring knowledge," and "moving answers and solutions into the hands of those who need them... to support informed decision making."

When I visit their web site, the organization's mission is "To support evidence-informed decision-making in the organization, management and delivery of health services through funding research, building capacity and transferring knowledge."

CHSRF looks at knowledge transfer and exchange from 3 perspectives:

Perspective 1: "push" - research dissemination through research papers, "mythbusters" (short 2 page, highly digestible, peer-reviewed research papers that debunk common myths), and "evidence boost" (short research published about a decision that should have been made, where there is irrefutable evidence).

Push activities are supported by "how-to" information.

Perspective 2: "pull" - research weeks that bring researchers and decision makers together to learn, and promising practices inventory which offers neat ideas that have been implemented

Perspective 3: "exchange" - brokering and facilitating effective / productive relationships between researchers and decision makers, bringing them together, helping mutual understanding, dissolving stereotypes and turning research into joint knowledge production.

I also noted two other things from the presentation. Irving talked about a 4 step process for either knowledge transfer and exchange, or learning - unfortunately I don't quite recall. The model was:

  • acquire
  • assess - quality and relevance
  • adapt - summarize and relate [to context and need]
  • apply - how recommendations inform decision making

And one other thing he mentioned is "knowledge services link people with questions to people with answers." No doubt this is in the context of his organization, but I thought it was a very elegant way of expressing a mission /objective for KM.

So what I take away from this is that what seems to really matter to CHSRF is not the production of research, but to positively affect healthcare by enabling effective decisions through the application of research. For application to take place, it must be easily available, useful and relevant, and consumable - from the decision maker's perspective.

And Irving's group is adding tremendous value by fostering good working relationships and effective relationships between producers and consumers, and packaging / providing the research in useful ways that not only meet articulated needs, but anticipated ones as well.

Granted the link between knowledge management and this organization's is fairly easy to draw, but I can't help but think what Irving has done can be leveraged in other situations and organizations as well.

Bravo Irving. I hope I can create an opportunity for us to dialog further at some point.

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