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Reflections on KMb Knowledge Mobilisation Forum

by Silvia Capezzuoli

The place we inhabit as knowledge brokers/ mobilisers can often be a lonely place, one of filling the gaps between ‘spaces’ so I was looking forward to my first KMb Forum. I was not sure what to expect, as most of the Forum participants were practitioners and academics from the UK health and education sectors, so I focussed on what resonated for me as a practitioner in international development. 

I appreciated the initial inclusive definition setting the context for the Forum: Knowledge includes research-based knowledge, practice-based knowledge and wisdom gained from experience, and I really liked the way the ‘ethos’ was declared at the very start; the informal nature of the Forum was methodologically chosen as the best way to foster learning, sharing, networking and encourage creativity. Personally, I felt very comfortable with this, as it speaks to much of the work I am familiar with, and the way in which at IMA International we facilitate group processes, and run our Knowledge Management trainings, using many different techniques to encourage creative thinking.

The keynote speaker Dez Holmes, from Research in Practice talked about countering the more traditional idea that evidence-based research is generated in one space, with the expectation that it will be taken up and used by practitioners in a different space.  There is a need to capture the voice of lived experience and treat this as evidence, giving it the weight it deserves. Clearly participatory, user-centric and more holistic approaches lend themselves to this.

Ultimately it is about making a case for what is meaningful to those we are wanting to influence. So for evidence to be taken up and used, translated into practice, researchers need appeal to practitioners’ professional values, sense of purpose and ‘ikigai’ (raison être). To “capture hearts and minds” to get your message across, you need to be able to step into the other’s shoes.

A clear message is that knowledge needs to be understood and perceived as woven into organisational practice; in other words it is systemic, and not bolted on. Leaders at all organisational levels need to role model this, working with emergent change in complex systems, rather than trying to simplify these.

The importance of relational work also became apparent; inter-professional relationships can help or hamper knowledge brokerage. We all have our subjective relationship with knowledge and evidence, and this in turn can be affected by the system within which we operate. So investing in personal and organisational relationships is a necessary step to building trust, which in turn helps to shape opinions, make suggestions and influence change.

During the forum I really enjoyed the small group conversations which surfaced issues of power dynamics (Whose knowledge is valued? Who is part of the discussion?); the importance of buy-in from leaders and influencers; recognising that changing our own and others’ behaviour is a slow process so there is a need for continuous reminders/ prompts about the purpose of knowledge sharing.

We should be fostering knowledge sharing between ourselves, within our organisations, and with wider partners, including the private-public sector interface, to share ideas, passions and innovations, to help us all navigate the rising complexities of our future.