Learning and Knowledge Sharing for the Program shift (March 2009)



During the past year, CARE has been building a global learning and knowledge sharing system to support an organization-wide change process that aims to improve program quality and impact at CARE, and contribute to the international aid effectiveness debate. This organization-wide change process focuses on transitioning from projects to long-term programs.

Because we recognize that this organization-wide change process is an adaptive challenge for which much learning and experimentation is needed, we have identified a set of drivers of organizational change who have committed to leading the change process and serving as nodes of learning for the organization. We refer to these drivers and nodes of learning as “Learning Labs,” which are 7 country offices, 2 regions, and four global programs (including the signature programs). These learning labs have established formal ties with other business units in the organization, which we refer to as
“Satellites".*

Thus, the heart of CARE’s strategy for transitioning to a program approach is a Learning Network that consists of Learning Labs and Satellites, but incorporates people from throughout the organization and beyond. This transition strategy, which focuses on a Learning Network as the main driver, is planned for a period of two years beginning in April 2008.


Overview of Learning and Knowledge Sharing Strategy


We have been pursuing a five-pronged strategy to support the Learning Network in leading the transition to a program approach at CARE, and enabling others from outside the network to also participate in this transition.**

1)
Peer-to-peer Collaboration: Foster peer collaboration within the Learning Network, which consists of Learning Labs, Satellites, DRDs-PQ and PQI

2) Documentation and Sharing of Key Guidance: Instill knowledge capture and sharing processes to ensure that the right guidance is available at the right time, in the right format to the right person (referred to as “just in time knowledge”). This guidance should be available to folks in the Learning Network, as well as those outside of the network.

3) External linkages and Partnerships: Set up systematic ways to contribute to and learn from other organizations on an ongoing basis on the different aspects of the program approach.

4)
Tools and Technologies: Develop a wiki, list serves, online discussions and other tools and technologies to support interaction and learning within the network, particularly during periods of time when face-to-face meetings are not taking place.

5) Skills and Behaviors: Develop and promote skills and behaviors necessary for people to learn and share knowledge more effectively within their respective business units and across units and levels of the organization

The diagram below shows how these various elements discussed above fit together into a coherent learning and knowledge sharing system.
Diagram 1: Learning and Knowledge Sharing System for Transitioning to a Program Approach


Learning_and_Knowledge_Sharing_System_for_Transitioning_to_a_Program_Approach.jpg
Learning_and_Knowledge_Sharing_System_for_Transitioning_to_a_Program_Approach.jpg



Diagram 2: Learning Network Life Cycle


Learning_Network_Life_Cycle.jpg
Learning_Network_Life_Cycle.jpg

The sections below provide more detailed descriptions of the components of the Learning and Knowledge Sharing system depicted above.

1) The Life Cycle of the Learning Network in terms of number of members, and level of peer to peer collaboration:
One way to gauge the cumulative energy of a Learning Network is to look at the number of people who are active members of the network, the diversity of business units represented in that membership, and the level of peer to peer collaboration.

To illustrate the process by which we are working to strengthen membership and peer to peer collaboration within the Learning Network, it is useful to review the various ways in which we have been or plan on supporting the network over time (see diagram below). By increasing the cumulative energy of the Network and establishing conditions necessary for the program approach, the Learning Network will be better positioned to lead the transition to a program approach at CARE.

As shown in the diagram above, the work of the Learning Network, and the support systems needed for it to thrive, is planned for a period of two years. This period of two years started with the launch of the network in Istanbul in April 2008 and will end with a

Notice that the red path in the diagram above shows the different steps
that are needed to increase the energy of the Network between the first face-to face meeting in Istanbul and the mid-term review (originally planned for July 2009). Due to budgetary constraints, a face-to-face mid-term review meeting may not be possible. If this is the case, an online event or other mechanism will need to be held in lieu of the face-to-face meeting in order to evaluate where the Network is in terms of energy and its support systems, and what changes are needed for the remaining year.

Developing a “charter, learning agendas and learning questions are key to support learning and peer collaboration in a Learning Network. The tools and technologies that we have set up to support interaction and peer collaboration within the Network are described in greater detail in section 4 below.

2. Documentation and Sharing of Key Guidance:
Just in time knowledge is knowledge that is available at the right time, in the right format to the right person. To facilitate the development and availability of just in time knowledge, there are various mechanisms we have set up to support the documentation and sharing of key guidance needed for the program shift.

Perhaps the most powerful mechanism to support the creation of just in time knowledge is the “Elements of a Pathway to Long-term Programming,” which is a diagram that provides a high-level snap shot of the main pieces of work that Learning Labs and others will need to move forward in order to shift to a long-term programming approach. These pieces of work relate to establishing the preconditions necessary for the shift, designing programs, operationalizing programs, and achieving organizational alignment.** *

This graphic not only identifies the work that needs to be done and documented – but also creates a common language for the Learning Network so folks from different units and levels in the organization can communicate with each other more easily regarding the work they are doing.

Diagram 3: Elements of a Pathway to Long-term Programming


Elements_of_a_Pathway.jpg
Elements_of_a_Pathway.jpg
Other mechanisms/processes that have been set up to facilitate the documentation and sharing of key guidance are:
· Knowledge sharing objectives: Because it is too much for a Learning Lab to document and share knowledge related to all of the work it is doing to shift to a program approach, we have recommended to Learning Labs that they identify 1 or 2 knowledge sharing objectives. A knowledge sharing objective identifies one key area of work that the Learning Lab chooses to prioritize for purposes of documenting its knowledge and sharing it with others in the Learning Network. This key area of work should represent a comparative advantage of the Learning Lab relative to other learning labs, and should relate to at least one of the Elements of a Pathway to Long-term Programming.
· Documentation methods and tools: Tools to document the context and processes related to the shift have been created and provided to some learning labs for testing. More information on this will be on the wiki.
· Quarterly reflection sessions: Every quarter, we recommend that a group of leaders of the program shift organize a reflection session between themselves or with a larger group of staff to examine progress and key insights related to the learning questions and knowledge sharing objectives above.

3) External linkages and Partnerships:
Although CARE does not yet have a coherent strategy for establishing external linkages and partnerships as part of its effort to advance the program approach, it is something that we consider imperative. CARE is not alone in its transition to long-term programming. The inefficiencies of doing development work solely based on short term projects have been a critical topic of discussion in the international aid effectiveness debate, and there are many organizations that have already embarked on the shift. Once CARE is more immersed in the program approach, CARE will need to develop amore systematic approach to contributing to and learning from other organizations on an ongoing basis.

4) Tools and Technologies
Develop a wiki, list serves, online discussions and other tools and technologies to support interaction and learning within the network, particularly during periods of time when face-to-face meetings are not taking place.

The most powerful tool that we have established to support learning and knowledge sharing globally at CARE is the Wiki on the Programmatic Approach at CARE (P-shift Wiki). The P-shift Wiki is an online space that we have set up to support the documentation and sharing of knowledge, and to support interaction and peer collaboration.
This wiki is the first global platform for knowledge sharing in CARE that cuts across sectors and integrates business units from different levels of the organization. During the past 9 months, membership in the wiki has increased to over 70 people from throughout the world. By January 2009 an average of 10 people from different parts of CARE were editing the wiki on a regular basis. We are using a tool called a “wiki” which means “fast” in Hawaiian, because wikis are easily edited web pages that we can share with each other no matter where we are in the world. Anyone can read the wiki. Anyone who joins the wiki can add or edit pages. Access the wiki at http://p-shift.care2share.wikispaces.net .

Other tools and technologies include:


  • Ubora and P-shift Email Access: Ubora@care.org and pshift@care.org email addresses have been set up for all staff to access to ask questions, seek clarification and support and give feedback.
  • Learning Lab and Satellite Listserve: A listserve has been set up to make it easier for people from different learning labs and satellites to communicate with each other. The people who are on this list serve are those who are leading the shift in the Learning Labs and Satellites (beyond those who attended the Istanbul workshop), as well as RMU staff and staff from PIKL. Email USA-PROGLEARNINGLABSANDSATELITEGROUP@care.org to join.
  • P-shift Listserve: The P-shift listserve has been set up to help people disseminate key information about the shift to a larger audience. The people who are in the p-shift list serve are all those listed in the learning labs and satellites list serve, all participants of the Istanbul workshop, and others who expressed interest in being part of this list serve. Email Prog-ShiftGroup@care.org to be added.
  • Pshift electronic newsletter: A newsletter that is used to disseminate information about important advances in the shift to a programmatic approach and new resources to a wider audience. This newsletter is disseminated once a month to all those people who are part of the p-shift list serve.
  • Other communication and learning tools such as the Program Quality Digital Library (PQDL), http://pqdl.care.org/default.aspx .

5) Skills and Behaviors:
The Learning Network and support systems and technologies discussed above must be accompanied by a strategy to provide capacity building and incentives for staff to develop or strengthen the skills and behaviors necessary for good global knowledge sharing to happen.

Strategies to build capacity and provide incentives for people to develop skills and behaviors:


· Distance training (through conference call or Elluminate) on how to use a wiki: What is a wiki, why is it useful, and how to create and edit pages
· Updates on what is new on the wiki – to keep people interested and draw them into visiting the wiki on a regular basis
· Gradual approach to supporting people on uploading information onto their pages. People can initially email documents which we upload for them, then we teach them to upload the documents themselves, then we provide incentives to promote their continued efforts to upload their own documents
· Organize online discussions using list serves to support interaction via email (which is the technology that most people are used to)
· Develop Learning Lab guide that makes explicit Learning Lab obligations, as well as roles and responsibilities of specific groups for knowledge sharing
· Methodological support for developing learning agendas, learning questions
· Training on how to adapt and apply tools for documenting context and experiences

Prepared by Claudia Canepa, Sr. Advisor, Program Learning, PIKL, March 31, 2009


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Resources



Knowledge Sharing Strategy for the Program Shift- March 2, 2009
Brief No. 5 Learning and Knowledge Sharing for the Program Shift
Learning and Knowledge Sharing Strategy
Knowledge Sharing Strategy
Learning and Knowledge Sharing System


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*For more a complete list of Learning Labs and Satellites, and their detailed “charter” see p-shift wiki and
**Adapted from Network Lifecycle Diagram provided in a CD Rom that is part of the book, Learning to Fly by C. Collison and G. Parcell (2001).
***For more information on the specific pieces of the work needed to shift to a program approach, see Pathways


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