Knowledge Solutions

To drive development forward and enhance its effects, ADB publishes the Knowledge Solutions series. It aims to build competencies in the areas of strategy development, management techniques, collaboration mechanisms, knowledge sharing and learning, and knowledge capture and storage.

The "cheat sheets" below simplify access and reference to the series in two ways—through the five key competencies in knowledge management and the recurring themes in the series.

Strategy Development [+]

A strategy is a long-term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.

Behavior and Change

How can a strategy focus on group relationships with appreciation of their distinctive ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge? Culture Theory
How can it utilize stories of significant change to monitor and evaluate performance? The Most Significant Change Technique
How might it shift the focus from changes in state to changes in behaviors, relationships, actions, and activities? Outcome Mapping
Why should it embrace the complex political nature of decision making to investigate how power and authority affect economic choices in a society? Political Economy Analysis for Development Effectiveness
How could you anchor it in understanding of livelihoods and appreciation of the factors that constrain or enhance these as well as their relationships? The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach

Emergence and Scenario Thinking

How might futurizing enable diverse and potentially conflicting groups find common ground for constructive action? Future Search Conferencing
Is your strategy the outcome of a human-centered, prototype-driven process for the exploration of new ideas? Design Thinking
Does it maintain a balance between strategizing and learning modes of thinking? From Strategy to Practice
Working backward, does it integrate alternatives that emerge from the perspective of future failure? The Premortem Technique
How emergent is it? Does it consider other scenarios? Reading the Future

Institutional Capacity and Participation

How does a strategy promote participation at requisite levels? Building Institutional Capacity for Development

Knowledge Assets

Is your strategy for knowledge management enriched by regular knowledge audits? Auditing Knowledge
Does its practice integrate the need to systematically review, evaluate, prioritize, sequence, manage, redirect, and if necessary even cancel strategic initiatives? Enhancing Knowledge Management Strategies
Is your approach to dissemination underpinned by policy, strategy, planning, and tactics? How can your knowledge products be made available in a flexible range of formats in recognition of the varied needs of consumers? Linking Research to Practice
How might you realize your organization's true value? A Primer on Intellectual Capital


How does a strategy apply a custom blend of the four Ps and other marketing techniques to transform communications with stakeholders and improve performance? The Future of Social Marketing
How might it draw on marketing principles to effect changes in the behavior of individuals or groups? Marketing in the Public Sector

Organizational Learning

How can a strategy support and energize organization, people, knowledge, and technology for learning? Building a Learning Organization
How might it integrate evaluation results to support policy, strategy, and operational changes? Learning Lessons with Knowledge Audits
How could it distinguish roadblocks to make them part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Overcoming Roadblocks to Learning
How would you gauge perceptions of competencies to learn for change? Seeking Feedback on Learning for Change

Partnerships and Networks of Practice

Does your strategy leverage partnerships and recognize their drivers of success and failure? Creating and Running Partnerships
How might it make out social networks and analyze the actors and the relationships between them? Social Network Analysis

Management Techniques [+]

Leadership is the process of working out the right things to do. Management is the process of doing things right.

Branding and Value

Why, in knowledge-based economies, should high-performance organizations reconceptualize notions of corporate reputation? Managing Corporate Reputation
How might we embrace branding to drive organizational behavior and behavioral change? New-Age Branding and the Public Sector
Do value cycles maximize the potential of knowledge services and knowledge solutions through delivery platforms? Value Cycles for Development Outcomes

Complexity and Lateral Thinking

How might we investigate deeply the cause-and-effect relationships underlying problems? The Five Whys Technique
If decision making is a stream of inquiry, not an event. how might one move toward decision-driven organizations? On Decision Making
Do you enable different perspectives to be generated and applied in management processes? The Reframing Matrix
How might one brainstorm to resolve a problem, meet an opportunity, or turn a tired idea into something new and different? The SCAMPER Technique
By what effective questioning might you reap insights into strategy development, management techniques, collaboration mechanisms, knowledge sharing and learning, and knowledge capture and storage? Seeding Knowledge Solutions Before, During, and After
Why should management practices encompass sense and decision making in multiple contexts? Understanding Complexity

Linear Thinking

How can we manage for results with a coherent framework for strategic planning, management, and communications? Crafting a Knowledge Management Results Framework
How does one focus on time, cost, human resources, scope, quality, and actions as common parameters of project performance? Focusing on Project Metrics
Do you make use of logic models for objectives-oriented planning that structures the main elements in a project, highlighting linkages between intended inputs, planned activities, and expected results? Output Accomplishment and the Design and Monitoring Framework
What are some pernicious effects of performance measurement and how might one improve the state of the art? The Perils of Performance Measurement

Organizational Change

What are business models and how might they enable organizations to capture, create, and deliver value to meet explicit or latent needs? Business Model Innovation
In what ways do organizations benefit from staff engagement and how might that be driven? Engaging Staff in the Workplace
How do organizations overcome resistance to change and secure as much discretionary effort as possible? Fast and Effective Change Management
If transformation change rarely succeeds, what rationale is there for bottom-up approaches? Forestalling Change Fatigue
How might the public sector innovate to be competent in the present and ready for the future? Innovation in the Public Sector
How might knowledge management initiatives impact an organization's social reality to drive change? Knowledge as Culture
If a project exists only for its duration, how might project-based organizations reconcile the project-centric nature of their work to also promote organizational learning? Managing Knowledge in Project Environments
What is moral courage and why is it so often constrained in organizations? Moral Courage in Organizations
How do we get the right knowledge to the right people at the right time, and help them (with incentives) to apply it in ways that strive to improve organizational performance? Notions of Knowledge Management
How might you prioritize investments in knowledge management? Picking Investments in Knowledge Management
Why do organizations need direction and control and based on what principles and practices might boards of directors better provide that? A Primer on Corporate Governance
What are the components of organizational culture and what is the role of organizational learning for change? A Primer on Organizational Culture
How do organizations learn? A Primer on Organizational Learning
How do new knowledge management paradigms compare with the old, and what new structures and managerial attitudes do they require? The Roots of an Emerging Discipline
Why should we drive management innovation? Sparking Innovations in Management
Why is micromanagement mismanagement? The Travails of Micromanagement

Talent Management

Do you manage meetings before, during, and after, with appreciation of their different kinds, to make them productive and fun? Conducting Effective Meetings
Should one spend more time, integrity, and brainpower on selecting managers than on anything else? Growing Managers, Not Bosses
Is your organization attractive to people who already know how valuable they are? Leading Top Talent in the Workplace
Why should you empower knowledge workers to make the most of their deepest skills and perform best? Managing Knowledge Workers
How does one manage by walking around to emphasize the importance of interpersonal contact, open appreciation, and recognition and build civility and performance in the workplace? Managing by Walking Around
How can one give talent strategic and holistic attention to make it happen? A Primer on Talent Management
Do you have the ability, capacity, skill, or self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of yourself, of others, and of groups? Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence

Collaboration Mechanisms [+]

When working with others, efforts sometimes turn out to be less than the sum of the parts. Too often, not enough attention is paid to facilitating effective collaborative practices.

Collaborative Tools

How do you harness the power of collaborative minds to innovate faster, cocreate, and cut costs? Collaborating with Wikis
How does one represent, link, and arrange concepts, themes, or tasks under a central topic? Drawing Mind Maps
How can we actualize the thinking potential of teams? Wearing Six Thinking Hats

Communities of Practice and Learning Alliances

How do you build a community of like-minded, interacting people to ensure more effective creation and sharing of knowledge in a domain? Building Communities of Practice
Through what collaboration mechanisms can one decentralize the span of knowledge coordination? Enriching Knowledge Management Coordination
How can communities of practice report better? Improving Sector and Thematic Reporting
Why should strategic alliances manage the partnership, not just the agreement, for collaborative advantage? Learning in Strategic Alliances
How does social neuroscience foster more comprehensive theories of the mechanisms that underlie human behavior? A Primer on Social Neuroscience
How might one design and analyze a survey of communities of practice? Surveying Communities of Practice


How should we earn, develop, and retain trust for superior results? Building Trust in the Workplace
How can one distribute leadership if it is an outcome, not an input to business processes and performance? Distributing Leadership
Why would you support people who choose to serve first, and then lead, as a way of expanding service to individuals and organizations? Exercising Servant Leadership
What is the new context for leadership in the public sector? Leading in the Workplace

Social Innovations

By what process can one unearth what works to facilitate positive change in organizations? Appreciative Inquiry
How can you generate good ideas that meet pressing unmet needs and improve people's lives to foster smart, sustainable globalization? Sparking Social Innovations


How do you enable small groups to work regularly and collectively on complicated problems, take action, and learn as individuals and as a team while doing so? Action Learning
How might one bridge silos to promote effective cross-functional teams? Bridging Organizational Silos
What are the roots of organizational conflict and how might complexity thinking help capitalize on its functions and dysfunctions? Conflict in Organizations
Why, in organizations, is it better to understand delegation as a web of tacit governance arrangements? Delegating in the Workplace
How can reciprocity intensify mutual influence in organizations? Informal Authority in the Workplace
How can we organize and coordinate with effect a group whose members are not in the same location or time zone, and may not even work for the same organization? Managing Virtual Teams
What configuration does your organization have and what does that tell you? What might you do to enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of its structure? On Organizational Configurations
What role can corporate values play in guiding behavior and decision-making? A Primer on Corporate Values
How does one develop a successful team? Working in Teams

Knowledge Sharing and Learning [+]

Two-way communications that take place simply and effectively build knowledge.

Creativity, Innovation, and Learning

What are the forms and functions of networks of practice and how do you monitor and evaluate performance? Building Networks of Practice
How do you harness, individually or in association, useful models of learning and change to reflect on the dimensions of a learning organization? Dimensions of the Learning Organization
How can an organization demonstrate commitment to learning, against which provision and practice can be tested and serve as a waymark with which to guide, monitor, and evaluate progress? Drawing Learning Charters
What are the stimulants and obstacles to creativity and innovation that drive or impede enterprise in organizations? Harnessing Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace
How might event planners shine a light on learning outcomes? Learning in Conferences
Why is intrinsic motivation necessary to drive internal knowledge markets? On Internal Knowledge Markets
Why must motive, means, and opportunity be aligned to invest resources productively across the knowledge-sharing landscape? On Knowledge Behaviors
How can the public sector use Web 2.0 applications to forge, build, and deepen relationships? Social Media and the Public Sector

Learning and Development

Can better understanding of organizational environments and design principles improve e-learning interventions? E-Learning and the Workplace
How can we coach and mentor to inspire and empower employees, build commitment, increase productivity, grow talent, and promote success? Coaching and Mentoring
What are the five functions of managers toward which learning and development can be extended to improve their insights, attitudes, and skills? Learning and Development for Management

Learning Lessons

How do you know what question to ask when? Asking Effective Questions
When a critical milestone has been reached, why should we discuss successes and failures in an open and honest fashion? Conducting After-Action Reviews and Retrospects
How does one step back from day-to-day activities to think about the future? Conducting Successful Retreats
How can individuals come together to share their experiences, insights, and knowledge on an identified challenge or problem? Conducting Peer Assists
Is failure a way to an opportunity? Embracing Failure
How can one suggest that a process or methodology that has been shown to be effective in one part of an organization and might be effective in another too? Identifying and Sharing Good Practices
How might evaluation serve as a foundation block in learning organizations? Learning from Evaluation
How might one surface the thinking, experiments, and arguments of actors who engaged in organizational change? Learning Histories
What is the potential of stories or narratives as a communication tool to value, share, and capitalize on the knowledge of individuals? Storytelling


How can an ordinary presentation become a lively and engaging event? Conducting Effective Presentations
By what interactive process does one communicate knowledge to target audiences to lead to change? Disseminating Knowledge Products
How can we enrich the definition, design, and implementation of policy research? Enriching Policy with Research
How do you employ the internet to disseminate research findings? Posting Research Online
How do we save time in writing, make writing far easier, and improve understanding? Using Plain English

Knowledge Capture and Storage [+]

Knowledge leaks in various ways at various times.

Knowledge Harvesting

How do you garner feedback on why employees leave, what they liked about their job, and where the organization needs improvement? Conducting Exit Interviews
How can the study of critical incidents help solve practical problems? The Critical Incident Technique
By what process can one analyze and evaluate thinking to improve it? Critical Thinking
What, in simple terms, are the most common concepts in knowledge management? Glossary of Knowledge Management
How do you draw out and package tacit knowledge to help others adapt, personalize, and apply it; build organizational capacity; and preserve institutional memory? Harvesting Knowledge
Why might groups and organizations benefit from social reminiscing? On Second Thought
Why should one cut information overload and showcase knowledge? Showcasing Knowledge
How do we build dynamic, adaptive electronic directories that store information about the knowledge, skills, experience, and interests of people? Staff Profile Pages
How might taxonomy work become strategic work? Taxonomies for Development


How can one garner feedback from executing agencies on the effectiveness of assistance in capacity development? Assessing the Effectiveness of Assistance in Capacity Development
By what simple feedback mechanisms might you promote learning before, during, and after to document accomplishments as well as bottlenecks? Monthly Progress Notes

Technology Platforms

How can groups discuss electronically areas of interest and review different opinions and information surrounding a topic? Writing Weblogs

The Age of Competence

Competence is the state or quality of being adequately or well qualified to deliver a specific task, action, or function successfully. It is also a specific range of knowledge, skills, or behaviors utilized to improve performance.

Today, sustainable competitive advantage derives from strenuous efforts to identify, cultivate, and exploit an organization's core competencies, the tangible fruits of which are composite packages of products and services that anticipate and meet demand. (Yesteryear, instead of strengthening the roots of competitiveness, the accent was placed on business units. Innately, given their defining characteristics, business units under-invest in core competencies, incarcerate resources, and bind innovation—when they do not stifle it.)

Core competencies are integrated and harmonized abilities that provide potential access to markets; create and deliver value to audiences, clients, and partners there; and are difficult for competitors to imitate. They depend on relentless design of strategic architecture, deployment of competence carriers, and commitment to collaborate across silos. They are the product of collective learning.

Learning Before, During, and After...

Knowledge is what you learn from experience before, during, and after the event. Since it is both a thing and a flow, the best way to manage knowledge is to cater at all times to the environment in which it can be identified, created, stored, shared, and used. Leadership, organization, technology, and learning that engender knowledge-enriched solutions are central to that.

...with Knowledge Solutions

But what of tools, methods, and approaches for learning? To drive development forward and enhance its effects, the Asian Development Bank has since 2008 published the Knowledge Solutions series. It aims to build competencies in the areas of strategy development, management techniques, collaboration mechanisms, knowledge sharing and learning, and knowledge capture and storage, all of them essential to knowledge management and learning. Because documentation can be cumbersome, these "cheat sheets" simplify access and reference to the series.

Corporate Creativity and Innovation [+]

Creativity and innovation are needed equally in the established enterprise, the public sector organization, and the new venture. They stand to benefit products, services, procedures, and processes. Why then do killer phrases such as "Put it in writing," "We've tried that before," or "Don't rock the boat" still stop us in our tracks? Critical questions that beg answering include:

  • What are the sources of corporate creativity and innovation?
  • How might an organization develop a culture where creativity and innovation are welcomed, encouraged, and even rewarded? Put more simply, how might it enable personnel to have better conversations?
  • Can design thinking change the manner in which creativity and commerce interact?
  • Are there opportunities for innovations in management?
  • What is there in store for social innovations?
  • How might business model innovation enable organizations to capture, create, and deliver value to meet explicit or latent needs?

Knowledge Solutions that explore and frame ways to leverage individual and collective enterprise in the workplace include

Creating Teams with an Edge [+]

Cooperative work by a team can produce remarkable results, especially in project-based organizations; the challenge is to move from the realm of the possible to the realm of practice. Essential steps to developing successful teams are to

  • Establish a shared goal or purpose to get members on board.
  • Assemble teams for technical competence, problem-solving ability, and interpersonal skills, and tap the respective attributes of members.
  • Organize for knowledge management and learning in project settings.
  • Leverage survey instruments.
  • Drive a communication and engagement strategy.

Knowledge Solutions that aim to boost productivity with effective teams include

How-To Guides [+]

As a matter of course, modern organizations leverage sundry tools and techniques in day-to-day operations, meetings, or difficult circumstances. They constitute the "must know" and "must do" necessary to magnify personal, team, and organizational performance. The use of any resource depends on the purpose of the owner. Naturally, the compass is broad but common tools and techniques serve, for example, to:

  • Get to the root cause of problems.
  • Develop staff.
  • Involve people in collaborative work.
  • Assess performance to make sure learning takes place and supports continuous improvement.
  • Ramp up the efficiency of meetings and retreats.
  • Communicate to a group of people a clear and powerful message.
  • Document accomplishments as well as bottlenecks in projects.
  • Capture knowledge from departing staff.
  • Use stories or narratives to value, share, and capitalize on the knowledge of individuals.
  • Enable groups to discuss electronically areas of interest and review different opinions and information surrounding a topic.

Knowledge Solutions that describe routine procedures for business excellence include

Knowledge Management Techniques [+]

A technique is a systematic procedure by which a specific activity or task is accomplished. Several easy-to-understand and practical techniques support knowledge management. Much as tools in a toolbox, their application must nevertheless meet the purpose intended. The scope is wide but some can, for instance, help:

  • Actualize the thinking potential of teams.
  • Explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying problems.
  • Direct questioning that meets opportunities.
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of projects and programs.
  • Facilitate positive change in organizations.

Knowledge Solutions that detail methods for carrying something out include

Leading in Organizations [+]

The 21st century poses new challenges and opens opportunities to present and up-and-coming leaders. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, as the context is new, so must they think anew, and act anew. Notions of leadership have been stretched to a degree unimaginable 10 years ago. Tomorrow's leader must, for instance

  • Place purpose before strategy.
  • Set an inspiring mission.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to community.
  • Be of service, not self-aggrandizing.
  • Appreciate that leadership at all levels matters.
  • Know how to lead clever people.
  • Eliminate obstructions and demotivators.

Knowledge Solutions that explore and frame visions, strategies, and practices for leading in the future include

Making Partnerships Work [+]

Partnerships open up opportunities for organizations to gain knowledge and leverage strengths. Notwithstanding, there is great variety in their typology: the range covers high-level strategic alliances, time-limited collaborations on projects, and networks of practice, among others. Consequently, the state of the art in creating, managing, monitoring, and evaluating partnerships is in infancy. Progress can be achieved if value and attention are placed on

  • Relevance.
  • Effectiveness.
  • Efficiency.
  • Impact.
  • Sustainability.

Knowledge Solutions that highlight the essentials of designing for performance, articulate building blocks, and underscore success factors and special considerations include

Nurturing Knowledge Ecologies [+]

Sense-making is the process by which people give meaning to experience. Because much knowledge remains unwritten and largely unspoken, instrumental, transmissive, and narrative reminiscing can, together with internal knowledge markets, promote understanding and therefore build systemic wisdom in groups and organizations. Purposeful anecdotes and platforms that create and distribute value from intellectual capital in individuals can be powered by

  • Knowledge harvesting and sharing.
  • Social reminiscence.
  • Narrative techniques.

Knowledge Solutions that suggest ways to nurture knowledge ecologies include

Priming the Public Sector [+]

From the mid-1990s, public sector organizations and their activities have come under scrutiny; the public sector is vast and what happens there has major implications for society at large and the commerce that nurtures it. Pioneering ideas of entrepreneurial government have been especially influential. Indeed, many consider public services reform the dominant political narrative of the age. Founded on a client-centric philosophy, reforms have aimed to help public services become more flexible and cater better to needs. This shift has encouraged:

  • Changes that move the civil service from being a body giving policy advice to one that assures the availability of quality public goods and services.
  • The discovery of new avenues to finance public sector activities and their servicing.
  • Greater reliance on the private and not-for-profit sectors, away from a monopoly state provision model to that of a public service economy.

Knowledge Solutions that explore what promise tools, methods, and approaches leveraged in the private sector hold for the public sector include

Research in Development [+]

Research in science, technologies, and ideas can inspire innovative practices and promote effective policies that meet needs. It can conduce lasting change for the poor if it breaks down the barriers between research, policy, and practice. Effective research in development locks together

  • High-quality applied research.
  • Practical policy advice.
  • Policy-focused dissemination and debate.

Knowledge Solutions that help understand and nurture the complex relationship between research, policy, and practice include

Simple Guides to Difficult Subjects [+]

Perceptions of information overload have less to do with quantity than with the qualities by which knowledge is presented. Primers are short introductory texts, including articles, that explain possibly new material to readers. In plain language, effective sentences, and well structured sections that advance inquiry, they demonstrate:

  • What principles and associated knowledge, supported by tables and figures, are essential to a rounded understanding of the subject.
  • What examples, good practices, and key references illuminate the state of the art and its practice.
  • What challenges loom on the horizon.

For sure, there will always be demand for good knowledge products that synthesize and share cornerstone information.Knowledge Solutions that make complex subjects easy to understand include

Workplaces That Work [+]

The simplest definition of a workplace is an establishment (or facility) at a particular location containing one or more work areas. In the 21st century, however, the workplace is better conceived as the environment enabling knowledge workers to perform. From that perspective, workplace development includes the determination of:

  • What purposes, processes, and people will define the work to be done.
  • When and where people will interact to identify, create, store, share, and use related knowledge.
  • How information and communication technologies will enable the work to be carried out.
  • Where the work will be conducted.
  • What physical environment and staff behaviors will drive the work.
  • How might organizational conflict be reduced to foster learning adaptation and evolution in the workplace?

Most of us work for a living. Until working arrangements become flexible, we will continue to do so in workplaces.Knowledge Solutions that convey the importance of the sociality of work and shed light on the complex actions and interactions that take place in the workplace include