CIHR does a great job creating training spaces for emerging KT (their acronym for KM) researchers. CIHR has posted KT learning modules on line and they hosted a KT summer institute which was recently written up from the perspective of some of the students at the institute, available here. Michelle E Kho and her fellow students wrote about some of the take home messages learned at the CIHR KT Summer Institute:
• KT is interdisciplinary and collaborative
• Negotiation skills are integral
• The KT process is complex, confusing, and multifaceted
• Use the most rigorous methods of inquiry to answer different research questions
They conclude by recognizing “the importance of relationships, the complexity of interactions, the significance of timing, and the potential for ingenuity and innovation in the field of KT.”
As a practitioner of KM I want to say, “Well, duh!”. It is great that CIHR creates these learning environments for new KT researchers but why hasn’t it occurred to those of us in the field to publish these conclusions that are evident to us on a daily basis? I think we spend so much time “in the trenches” that we forget there is a body of academics and their literature that we need to embrace to inform our practices. As practitioners of KM we need to practice what we preach. If we don’t use theory and evidence to inform our own practices what good are we as role models to researchers and their partners?
This is doubly important for those few university based KM practitioners who are “in the trenches” within the ivory tower. We always talk about bridging the theory-practice gap but we’re so busy practicing we forget the theory is being made just down the hall. Conversely the KM theorists and KT researchers need to look down their hall and recognize the amount of evidence on their own door steps. ResearchImpact is a network of KM Units that are each KM laboratories. We’re testing and trying things out all the time. We work with community and government based practitioners who have their own data, stories and expertise but for our own reasons we don’t get around to writing it up (except look for a forthcoming paper from York University’s KM Unit in Evidence & Policy 5(3):211-217).
So, a challenge to KM practitioners everywhere: practice what you preach.
And an invitation to KM researchers: talk to us, please. Break down those barriers you write about.