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New Knowledge Management directions
The Asian Development Bank has made "knowledge solutions" an integral part of its long-term mission. From its Long-Term Strategic Framework, 2000-2015, which marked ADB's initial commitment to become a learning organization, to the Knowledge Management (KM) Action Plan, 2009-2011, which ended its implementation to considerable success, the bank has striven to use its plethora of knowledge tools, techniques, and approaches to drive change and development in the region.
For 2013-2015, ADB intends to raise the bar by offering "finance++" - superior combinations of attractive financing, strategic partnerships, and high-quality knowledge to maximize and accelerate development effectiveness. The Knowledge Management Directions and Action Plan, 2013-2015: Supporting "Finance++" at ADB, approved in March 2013, commits ADB to 4 goals:
- Prioritizing and implementing knowledge solutions;
- Enriching the quality of ADB and developing member country knowledge capabilities for development effectiveness;
- Advancing ADB's knowledge assets, information systems, and communications; and
- Empowering and resourcing high-quality knowledge solutions.
Building from past experiences
The experience ADB had gained over the years provided a solid foundation for evolving ADB’s knowledge solutions under the new KM action plan.
The 2009-2011 KM action plan sharpened the knowledge focus in ADB operations, empowered communities of practice (CoPs), prepared guidelines for knowledge partnerships, and enhanced staff learning and skills development. The operations departments have put in place several knowledge management initiatives to strengthen knowledge content in country and project operations. The work of the CoPs had been integrated into ADB's business processes through the peer review of country programs and lending and non-lending operations; and representation in recruitment of international staff. ADB had increased the scope of knowledge components in its new partnerships.
Over the years, ADB's annual meetings has become an increasingly valuable forum for thousands of ADB stakeholders, including the highest governing body in ADB, the Board of Governors, to discuss major development issues, share knowledge and ideas, and engage one another on the results of knowledge programs of ADB and DMCs. ADB had expanded staff training programs in the main sector and thematic areas of its operations. In addition, in 2012, the special evaluation study on Knowledge Products and Services: Building a Stronger Knowledge Institution was conducted, the key findings and recommendations of which helped prepare the 2013-2015 KM action plan.
Recently, ADB also made important decisions to strengthen ADB's institution-wide knowledge management. Toward the end of 2011, ADB consolidated three specialized knowledge units: the Economics and Research Department; Office of Regional Economic Integration; and Regional and Sustainable Development Department, and the Office of Information Systems and Technology under an expanded Vice-Presidency for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. In May 2012, ADB established a Knowledge Sharing and Services Center (KSSC) to support knowledge sharing, learning, and related support services across ADB and in DMCs.
Shaping new knowledge solutions
Going forward, ADB recognizes that its knowledge solutions must be a clear response to priority development challenges facing DMCs individually or collectively. They need to involve DMCs in both the planning and implementation of the knowledge solutions, as well as assist DMCs in identifying and improving understanding and appreciation of their current and future challenges, the contexts from which the challenges emerge and will likely be addressed, and the risks and opportunity costs of not addressing the challenges.
Knowledge solutions are also needed to help DMCs identify and apply more advanced and feasible approaches to overcome their challenges, using all channels of ADB assistance, and contribute toward developing DMC capacity for knowledge solutions.
To make this happen, ADB will embrace three basic principles alongside its new KM action plan:
- Every department and office in ADB is a "knowledge unit" and every staff member is a user, if not a contributor, of knowledge;
- Knowledge solutions are an integral part of ADB's program in a DMC, being a legitimate, interrelated counterpart to ADB's investment operations;
- The application of the "One ADB" principle is crucial for bringing coherence and synergy to ADB's collective efforts to craft knowledge solutions that meet the priority needs of DMCs.
ADB's Knowledge Sharing and Services Center
The Knowledge Sharing and Services Center was created in May 2012 by merging two knowledge management units in ADB: the Knowledge Management Center and the Knowledge Sharing Program. It also assumed responsibility for sector and thematic staff development from ADB's Budget, Personnel, and Management Systems Department. KSSC's overall function is to provide superior, cost-effective knowledge sharing and support services to ADB and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).
More specifically, the center is mandated to:
- Support the operations departments and CoPs to distill and synthesize explicit and tacit knowledge;
- Assist the operations departments to strengthen knowledge management in DMCs;
- Support sector and thematic skill development for ADB and ADBI staff;
- Set up an ICT-based knowledge plat-form for recording, storing, retrieving, and sharing knowledge within and outside ADB.