aha moments from K* – thursday april 26, 2012

By David Phipps (RIR-York)
In the previous two installments of my aha moments from K* you will have seen all the countries that are home to some of the brokers at this conference. What is also impressive is the diversity of disciplines in which we work: communications, health policy, mental health, education, water, climate change, agriculture, health systems, international development, geography, nuclear disposal (yes…really!)
My aha came today in my panel with Glowen and Leandro. We developed a list of common lessons derived from our very different practices. The lessons learned are:

  • Build trust between partners
  • Develop capacity for K* in all partners
  • Use a mix of methodologies
  • Use web 2.0 tools
  • Involve traditional media
  • Peer supports
  • Knowledge is not static and is co-constructed
  • Understand the political, social and economic situations of the partners
  • Build a culture of K* for all participants

Moderator Derek Brien (Executive Director & Co-founder, Pacific Institute of Public Policy, Vanuatu) helped the panelists and the audience dig into this seemingly dichotomous relationship between convergence and divergence. There was general agreement on these common “guidelines” across different contexts but this doesn’t mean that I could hop on a plane and start my own knowledge intermediary practice in Ghana. These guidelines merely serve as a starting point. Knowing them before going into a new setting gives the broker a head start but it doesn’t replace local context and local knowledge. Aha!
But there is also something else starting to crystalize for me. Not so much an aha! as a hmmmmm….
This conference is the closest thing to a K* love-in that I can imagine. We are converging on many issues and many common themes and diverging on some such as the role of K* in advocacy. I am hearing lots of common challenges/opportunities but we’re not moving to solutions/actions. Today someone suggested we need a K* Code of Ethics. That’s a solution to an identified need around differential power in some knowledge relationships. I am hoping through the K* process – which is ongoing beyond these three days – we can identify common challenges/opportunities and move to addressing some common solutions/actions.
And now, off to Niagara!

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