Interactive Knowledge Products: how to make knowledge more engaging (and stop creating more documents)
Since the 1980’s, documents became electronic: we were able to share digital versions of our documents via floppy disk, email and the internet but they were still documents. In the last 15 years cloud and mobile computing, apps, social media and instant messaging reshaped the internet and enabled more people to share all kinds of content more widely than ever before. People expect to be informed and engaged by smaller, faster, responsive, usable and on-demand chunks underpinned by a data driven infrastructure - and we are not patient to search through screens of text to find the answer we need.
Knowledge managers should consider new processes and outputs for this digital world and employ more non-documentary interactive knowledge formats. Let's see what that means.
Recorded Knowledge Products
1. Documents (all types and presentations without sound)
2. Audiovisual (sound and pictures/videos)
3. Learning (pedagogic discovery, games, workshops)
4. Interactive (data visualization, online co-creation or participation)
Case Study: UNICEF LHD Quality Review
UNICEF re-imagined a quality review report to create an interactive digital knowledge format instead of a document.
UNICEF spending is split roughly evenly between humanitarian programming (including emergency responses) and development programming. Studies found evidence that Linking Humanitarian and Development (LHD) programming contributes to improved results for children. In 2019, to better institutionalize and systematize these linkages, they implemented a procedure to build local capacity and strengthen systems for LHD, as well as to periodically review the quality of these linkages. Due to the cost of performing quality reviews, the LHD quality review process initially aimed to study just the top 10 countries with the highest humanitarian spending.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that the traditional approach (visiting each of the top 10 countries to interview local staff) was not possible in 2020. Instead, a simplified and remotely administered survey was used, with humanitarian experts consolidating the data into one global synthesis report.
This report proposed that UNICEF further innovate the LHD review process and methodology for greater efficiency, effectiveness and engagement. The format envisioned was an online product which the country offices could own fully; which would promote sharing good practices and innovations; and spur direct engagement of staff with the LHD issue area and facilitate peer-to-peer learning by having an open and transparent platform.
So now the objective was more than a static report... something better, interactive, and current.
UNICEF said the objective of the new LHD reviews should be to:
get practitioners thinking and talking about LHD in their context (thereby creating knowledge in a more pedagogic way, as well, potentially as people aiming to change behaviors)
increase engagement and involvement of more stakeholders, more partners, more members of affected communities. More voices and more inputs to that discussion can only improve the local approach to LHD.
learn from others - see what other Country Offices are doing and get feedback - share publicly comment and connect.
- The objective is for country offices to have a self-assessment tool and a way to share their own findings so they can identify ways to improve. Reports are 100% owned and managed by the country office. The objective is not to create reports.
- Headquarters (HQ) supplies only supplies tools and support for Country Offices to help themselves. There is no judgement on the local reports, only support for the process. Since the entire dataset (i.e. from all surveys) is public, HQ can perform its own analysis and create its own global report. The role of HQ is not to compare countries or pass judgement.
What are some interactive knowledge formats?
In addition to online data dashboards, but there are a other common interactive knowledge products which could be used in place of documents for organizational knowledge management:
How to create an interactive knowledge product instead of a document
Wilson, O.L.F. (July 2021). Interactive Knowledge Products: how to make knowledge more engaging (and stop creating more documents). Retrieved from: https://blog.olfwilson.com/2021/07/interactive-knowledge-products-how-to.html