Knowledge management means capturing findings, institutionalizing learning, and organizing the wealth of information produced continually, so that knowledge sharing becomes about connecting people (staff, partners, Member States and donors) with the knowledge they need, rather than collecting and compiling documents. Learning encompasses a cycle of planning, implementation, periodic performance assessment and organizational learning, all of which are supportive of knowledge creation and sharing. It is important to ensure that learning influences strategy development and programme/project design, and that lessons are fed back into programme/project implementation.
The benefits of knowledge sharing for organizations have been well researched and documented, particularly over the last 20 years. The main benefits can be summarized as follows: (i) it helps to reveal tacit knowledge or hidden resources and identify knowledge gaps and; (ii) it provides a forum for brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, sharing experiences and good practices, and exchanging knowledge across different subject areas. Of course, knowledge takes many different forms and different strategies are needed to ensure that the necessary pathways are there to provide easy and timely access to the knowledge that is needed.
Good RBM systems therefore build knowledge capital by enabling organizations to develop a knowledge base of the types of policies, programmes, and projects that are successful, and more generally, what works, what does not, and why. Results-based management systems also help promote greater transparency and accountability, and foster political and financial support through demonstration of results.
In UN-Habitat, knowledge management and learning are additional key components of using performance findings, and therefore using results-based management. UN-Habitat considers that new knowledge can be generated by using these findings on a continuous basis. The organization believes that:
- learning and knowledge management improve institutional performance;
- a process for generating, reporting on, and utilizing lessons learned and best-practices should be maintained; and
- it is important to ensure that learning from activities implemented across the seven subprogrammes influences strategic planning, programming and implementation.
UN-Habitat believes in the benefits provided by a strong knowledge management system. For example, some of the benefits already reported in the context of technical cooperation projects can be summarized as follows:
- improving quality of work and operational relevance;
- avoiding duplication of work;
- speeding up work processes;
- disseminating knowledge;
- fostering good relationships with colleagues and partners through recognition;
- communicating relevant information at the start of a project allowing it to move
- moving forward with less ongoing input;
- highlighting problems sooner;
- increasing the likelihood that others will volunteer beneficial information;
- allowing tasks to be shared or delegated; and
- creating a positive atmosphere and stronger team spirit.
In order to capitalize on the benefits generated by the use of the knowledge management system in UN-Habitat, the Organization ensures that knowledge capture, sharing and learning is clearly articulated in the six-year strategic plan, the biennial strategic frameworks, the biennial work programmes and budgets, and the annual progress report on the implementation of the strategic plan. Conversely, UN-Habitat ensures that the Knowledge Management Strategy clearly articulates the dissemination of results and lessons learned through RBM processes as one of its pillars. Thus, collecting, capturing, storing, codifying, transferring and communicating knowledge generated through the use of RBM techniques and tools is one of the central elements of the Knowledge Management Strategy.