posted 28 Mar 2006 in Volume 9 Issue 7
By Mona El Tobgui
Working as a researcher at the National Research Centre in
Researchers tend to develop their skills in only one dimension – their particular scientific discipline – and lack some of the other abilities that can help them complete the cycle of their scientific achievement.
They are often handicapped when skills, other than scientific skills, are needed, such as communication and negotiation, essential for articulating ideas to clients.
It took me some time, however, to realise what was missing. In Summer 2000, I enjoyed a unique learning experience: the International Women’s University, where the idea of knowledge transfer for community empowerment was debated against knowledge co-construction. But how could I make all I learnt a reality?
Fast-forward to Summer 2005 and I was in RITSEC, the Regional Information Technology and Software Engineering Center, where I started to learn more about the term ‘knowledge innovation’ from specialists Debra Amidon and Oliver Schwabe, among others. The idea of the course was to transform government staff into ‘change agents’. This is what the NRC needs because it moves like an oil tanker. It has 6,000 staff and needs to be coaxed through opening dialogues with clients to share knowledge and to encourage collaboration bridge this communication gap. As the creation and conversion of ideas into viable commercial products is the main goal of the NRC, it needs to develop new systems for communication better suited to the knowledge economy.
The Knowledge Innovation Practitioner Program was a golden opportunity for the NRC – and for me. Young researchers learnt to develop their own methods of knowledge sharing, applicable to their own areas of endeavour. Led by Oliver, the courses offered flexibility – and insights into his experience.
He realised that students needed to learn that only by sharing ideas could their’ projects grow. As he learnt more about the way we worked, he used that information to fine-tune the course. As it was intended mainly to improve knowledge sharing and collaboration, Oliver gave us the chance to work more on our group projects, introduced more complex themes and started coaching individually, as well as in groups.
We saw the group change as students started to develop their own projects that could be implemented at the NRC. The second, deployment phase of the course, in which all those projects will be turned into a reality, has now started. Soon, the best of those projects will become a reality at the NRC – then the institute will really fly and we’ll see just what an infusion of knowledge management practice can do for an organisation.
Mona El Tobgui is a child health researcher and manager in the ICT department of the NRC. She can be contacted at email@example.com