Knowledge Management and Learning (KM&L) are cross-cutting themes in our organisation. The two themes are closely interlinked. Knowledge management is a systematic process that includes collecting, organising, clarifying, disseminating, and using information and knowledge throughout an organisation. Learning can happen between people and be organised within programmes or organisations by analysing data, reflecting on experience, and drawing conclusions.
Sharing knowledge within and outside the organisation and incorporating lessons learned into new programmes is essential if we are to continually increase the quality and impact of our work. At the same time, we are dealing with a large amount and variety of knowledge and learnings. It requires time investment and good systems to document, filter and analyse to use this data in an efficient way.
A working group on KM&L
Simavi constantly improves its capabilities as a future-proof, learning and adaptive organisation. The role of our Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) colleagues is to facilitate organisational knowledge management and learning processes within Simavi.
After developing a Knowledge Management strategy early 2019, we started a multifaceted effort to improve our practices. Recognising that learning happens at different levels and across the organisation, a KM&L working group was established with members from each department. This working group ensures the roll-out of the KM&L strategy, making sure that to everyone in the organisation has the necessary tools to apply KM&L in their work.
To facilitate KM&L within Simavi, the working group organises monthly learning sessions as a platform for staff to exchange knowledge and learn together. Each session has a different topic and objective, and all colleagues are invited to join the learning sessions. This helps us refine our thinking, exchange knowledge and develop new approaches together. Next to these sessions, we use Facebook Workplace extensively to share information internally.
KM&L in programmes
In programmes, KM&L happens on many levels. For example, data is collected through monitoring processes and evaluations, analysed, reflected and used to improve quality of interventions. Also, time is reserved to exchange implementation learnings and experiences between partners, sometimes following specific learning agenda’s and questions.
Through these processes we learn what works well in a specific environment and what not. And, which aspects of a project receive better results, which strategies can be replicated, etc. It helps Simavi to develop a more systematic approach in capturing implementation experience, utilising learnings for adaptive programming and using knowledge products for communication and advocacy.
Moreover, we aspire to aggregate learnings from different programmes to understand the logic of our interventions and their interconnectedness. And, to collect evidence to inform and support (pathways in) the Simavi Theory of Change. Knowledge and learnings that are captured within programmes are guiding our strategic development as well as contributing to a sector-wide body of knowledge within our expertise areas.
More about how KM&L translates into our programmes, and specific examples can be found here:
In the WASH & Learn programme (started in 2016), Simavi aims to answer to specific learning trajectories together with three implementing partners in Tanzania and Uganda. With these trajectories we aim to improve the results of the programme. To do this, we apply different methods, such as learning exchange visits or WhatsApp group discussions. Exchange between partners have proven to be very efficient in this programme, as the used tools and approaches have been upscaled by different partners.
Our Lives, Our Health, Our Futures programme (started in 2019) puts mutual learning and capacity strengthening at the core of its strategy to sustain progress made and contribute to more sustainable and responsive civil society. To ensure mutual learning, in each district, a lead organisation has been identified that will lead joint reflections, to inform programming and facilitate cross-learning and collaboration in their visibility and advocacy efforts. By providing resources, capacity support and space for local organisations to lead these processes, we ensure that learning is locally owned and specific to context and needs.