Knowledge Management Action Plan, 2009–2011

The generation and sharing of knowledge has always been an essential, catalyzing element of ADB's mandate. In 2001, through its Long-Term Strategic Framework, 2001–2015, ADB committed to become a learning institution and a primary source of development knowledge in the region. Strategy 2020, reinforced this commitment when it urged the bank to play a bigger role in putting the potential of knowledge solutions to work in the region.

In 2004, the Knowledge Management Framework signaled ADB's concerted efforts to become a learning organization. The framework pursues two mutually supportive outcomes: (i) increased assimilation of and dissemination by ADB of relevant, high-quality knowledge to developing member countries and other stakeholders, and (ii) enhanced learning within ADB.

In 2008, a review of the Framework recommended quick-wins in various areas. The recommendations led to the approval of the Knowledge Management Action Plan, 2009–2011, a comprehensive set of actions designed to ensure that ADB's knowledge continues to expand, is practical and usable to its staff and DMCs, and remains of the highest quality. The action plan was anchored in four pillars:

  • Sharpening the knowledge focus in ADB's operations: ADB leveraged its comparative advantages—expertise in identifying trends in the region; capacity for interdisciplinary and integrated approaches; and ability to blend knowledge and insight with large, concessional financing—to generate and share operationally relevant knowledge. At the regional, country, and project levels, ADB introduced initiatives to rationally identify and organize studies, incorporate knowledge management components and indicators, and promote learning from internal and external sources.
  • Empowering the communities of practice: Introduced in 2002 after a bank-wide reorganization, ADB-hosted communities of practice received a boost when their empowerment was mandated under the Action Plan for Knowledge Management, 2009–2011. With additional staff positions, increased budget, improved collaboration tools, and continuous efforts to integrate them in ADB's operations, the communities of practice have become the heart and soul of knowledge generation and sharing in ADB.
  • Strengthening external knowledge partnerships: Partnerships and networks can be an invaluable resource for development agencies. ADB established 24 regional knowledge hubs, 17 on water-related topics and the rest on finance, trade, partnerships, and sustainable development, to encourage research and networking on innovative knowledge products and services. ADB also implemented a range of activities designed to build stronger partnerships, i.e., creating databases of partnerships, developing an IT system for managing them, and crafting partnership guidelines for clearer outcomes.
  • Further enhancing staff learning and skills development: As part of continuous upgrading of staff skills, ADB developed and conducted new training courses to promote awareness of, and action on, knowledge generation and sharing. ADB also ramped up its efforts to capture, store, and share the tacit knowledge of past and present staff using techniques ranging from storytelling to exit interviews. Concrete products resulted from these efforts, among them the introspective ADB: Reflections and Beyond, the ADB Sustainable Development Timeline, and more.

In March 2010, ADB designed a knowledge management results framework to operationalize the Knowledge Management Action plan, 2009–2011 and monitor its implementation. In quarterly intervals beginning July 2010, ADB tracked the progress of the 37 action points specified in the framework. The plan was successfully completed in July 2011. Of the 37 action points, 70% had been fully adopted, 8% largely adopted, and 16% partially adopted by July 2011, the plan's termination date.

Highlights of accomplishments

1. Sharpen the knowledge focus in ADB’s operations

  • ADB conducted studies to promote understanding of knowledge management, including on the: a. taxonomy of ADB’s knowledge; b. degree to which knowledge management and communications are integrated in CSPs, RRPs, and TAs; c. demand for, and strategic fit of, knowledge products and services extended by the resident missions;
  • The TA Strategic Forum was established in 2008 to set ADB’s research and knowledge priorities in line with Strategy 2020. The 2010-2012 agenda it set reaffirmed the priorities defined in Strategy 2020;
  • New sector peer review procedures were incorporated into ADB’s business processes for country partnership strategies and lending products;
  • ADB strengthened the terms of reference of its knowledge management champions;
  • Efforts to transform sector- and theme-related information into knowledge were boosted;
  • ADB's drive to broaden understanding of tools, methods, and approaches for knowledge management and learning continued through the Knowledge Solutions and Knowledge Showcases series;
  • ADB published the Sustainable Development Timeline, which catalogs major sector and thematic landmarks in ADB’s journey to promote sustainable development; and
  • Marketing and distribution of knowledge products were expanded via Scribd, Twitter, and Facebook.

2. Empower communities of practice

  • 8 additional staff positions were allocated and the budget increased tenfold in 2010.
  • CoPs were mainstreamed into operations via a. legitimization of role in the peer review process, formulation of CPSs, and lending and nonlending operations; b. representation in the panel for recruiting international staff; c. participation in the budget review process;
  • Participation in CoPs was introduced in the 2011 performance review process;
  • CoPs conducted self assessments and developed customized training programs to address knowledge and skills gap;
  • ADB formulated the revised guidelines for sector and thematic reporting;
  • Collaboration mechanisms for cross-departmental and multi-disciplinary knowledge sharing were set up, including a CoP news aggregator that allows the members of different CoPs to share news more regularly and comprehensively;
  • 2 surveys of ADB-Hosted CoPs were conducted; and
  • A year-end event designed for networking and knowledge sharing among CoPs was introduced in 2009 and continued the next year.

3. Strengthen external knowledge partnerships

  • Guidelines on Knowledge Partnerships were formulated and published;
  • A database on partnerships and agreements was created;
  • Creating a system to facilitate bank-wide and decentralized management and monitoring of partnerships was begun;
  • Dissemination and visibility of ADB’s knowledge products were expanded through ADB’s depository library program and multi-donor public information center network.

4. Further enhance staff learning and skills development

  • 6 hour-long modules for the Learning for Change Primers series were developed and conducted;
  • 4 modules for the Knowledge Management and Learning Series were developed and conducted;
  • 2 batches of the Narrative Practitioners training program were conducted;
  • Budget for external training was expanded; and
  • Efforts to capture, store, and share the tacit knowledge of past and present staff resulted in a major publication, ADB: Reflections and Beyond, and an accompanying audio composition, Beyond: Stories and Sounds from ADB's Region.