aha Moments from K* – Wednesday April 25, 2012

By David Phipps (RIR-York)
France. Nigeria. Vanuatu. Kenya. Home to more of the knowledge brokers I met today. Truly a global experience.
Lots of work on tap today. Today wasn’t just listening to talking heads – huge THANK YOU for that.
First up – provocative opening by Derek Brien who said we need to focus on the process of K* and not the outcomes those processes enable. This was contextualized but mostly echoed by John Lavis (Program in Policy Decision Making). I don’t disagree with the need to focus on the process. This is the message of my paper with Daniele Zanotti that illustrates that campus-community collaborations are a journey not a destination. We are also on record as saying the knowledge mobilization is a process that enables social innovation. So the process is important. But if we don’t also focus on the outcome how can we measure our processes and improve upon them? I think Derek Brien and John Lavis are saying that (depending on your audience) the outcome is often a political decision that you as a knowledge broker have no control over so focus on the process (over which you do have control) and leave the outcome to those who are making the decision regardless of whether or not you agree with the decision.
Second aha moment came when we were discussing the principles of collaboration and our table got heavily into a discussion about knowledge brokering using on line tools. The principles of on line collaboration were:

  • Provide leadership
  • Create incentives
  • Assign dedicated staff
  • Know the trajectory of your collaboration (have an end in mind)
  • Mix formal and informal networking

We reflected that the principles of collaboration are the same on line and in real life. Maybe it’s no surprise that the conditions required for effective on line collaboration are the same as in real life but who knew until you started comparing the two. Likely there are differences. Maybe access and adoption of technology and the fact that trust is earned differently (but is still earned) is different between on line and real life, but these principles are shared.
And after all the rum tasting (yes, we found time to mobilize more than knowledge) one picture summed up the day (thank you Robyn Read from Research Supporting Practice in Education).