Six Actions to Mobilize Knowledge / Six actions pour mobiliser les connaissances

On January 31, 2017, Bev Holmes and Allan Best summarized their recent paper in Evidence & Policy that seeks to make sense of the complexity of knowledge mobilization by pointing to six key actions that can be taken by initiative managers and key influencers.

Le 31 janvier 2017, Bev Holmes et Allan Best ont résumé leur récent article, paru dans Evidence & Policy, dans lequel ils cherchent à expliquer la complexité de la mobilisation des connaissances. Ils indiquent six actions clés qui sont à la portée des gestionnaires d’initiative et des grands influenceurs.

Puzzle piecesOn February 9, 2017, I wrote in Mobilize This! about a paper I published with colleagues that outline five determinants of successful knowledge brokering. Bev Holmes and Allan Best have done something similar. The paper I did was based on a transnational comparison of knowledge brokering practices. Holmes & Best come at it from complexity studies. They advocate working with complexity rather than trying to avoid it.

Their six key actions are: co-producing knowledge, establishing shared goals and measures, enabling leadership, ensuring adequate resourcing, contributing to the science of knowledge-to-action, and communicating strategically.

Our five determinants of successful brokering are: build trust; develop capacity; co-construct knowledge; understand the political, social and economic context; and build culture.

The differences are interesting but so are the similarities. Both articles reference co-producing/co-constructing knowledge. Ensuring adequate resources is similar to building capacity. Enabling leadership is part of building a culture of knowledge brokering. You need to understand the political, social and economic context (Phipps et al) before you can establish shared goals and measures (Holmes & Best).

What is also interesting from Homes & Best is they identify two types of knowledge mobilizers who can be involve in each of their six actions. They identify “those who: (1) are managing specific knowledge mobilization initiatives (initiative managers), and (2) are in a position to make the environment more receptive to change (key influencers).”

This distinction is important as we consider the increasingly professionalized cohort of knowledge mobilization practitioners. These different cohorts of knowledge mobilization practitioners are managing projects (initiative managers) and environments (key influencers) and this starts to create organizational structures for resourcing knowledge mobilization. This may not be relevant to the many knowledge mobilization practitioners who work as solo operators in their organization but for those working in units we will expect to see various “levels” of practitioners.

We will always need front line knowledge brokers – the initiative managers of Holmes & Best. But we will also see a managerial level and a leadership level. As we consider the key competencies for knowledge mobilization practitioners (a group @JulieEBayley and I call research impact practitioners) we will need to understand how these competencies map onto different levels of practitioners from the brokers doing the work, the people managing the brokers and the people who are leading systems of knowledge mobilization.

Will the competencies vary or will the types of work undertaken to practice the competency change?

2 Responses to “Six Actions to Mobilize Knowledge / Six actions pour mobiliser les connaissances”

written by Bev Holmes On 25 February 2017 Reply

Hi David – I’m keen to read your paper now that I have seen the comparison to the one Allan and I wrote on mobilizing knowledge in complexity. The idea of levels of people who need to be involved for knowledge mobilization to be successful is very pertinent. I am increasingly convinced that we need to be thinking of stakeholders in two very different ways…one is stakeholders who are knowingly and willingly involved in knowledge mobilization (and would, for example, welcome competencies in job descriptions and embrace learning of same); the other group is stakeholders who can ‘make or break’ knowledge mobilization initiatives but might not even be involved (or need to be involved). I’m wondering if your “people who are leading systems of knowledge mobilization” are aware they are doing so (in which case they may embrace competencies because they’d like to be better at it)…and if so is there another group that is “people who are leading the systems in which knowledge mobilization takes place but don’t give a hoot about specific initiatives or even knowledge mobilization itself”? That might be the group that needs to be influenced with advocacy and marketing strategies as opposed to competencies. Interested in your thoughts on that group – the ones who are involved by virtue of their power and influence, but don’t even know (or perhaps care) that they are. Kevin Noel and I tried to get at some of this in a short article in International Journal of Health Policy & Management about systems thinking.
Thanks as always for your great and thought provoking summaries.

written by David Phipps On 1 March 2017 Reply

Thanks for your comment Bev. Our competencies manuscript has been resubmitted with all reviewers’ comments addressed so hopefully it will be out soon. But you can see a summary on slide share

Happy to share more when the paper is out

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