Leadership, Relationships, Willingness to Share and Learn: Key Themes from the Recent KM Share Fair

Carla Visser

Team Lead, Special Programs

This blog post originally appeared on the Knowledge for Health blog.

Visiting Tanzania is a privilege—and more so when it is to participate in an event focusing on one of my passions: knowledge management. The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community Knowledge Management (KM) Share Fair took place April 13-14, 2016 in Arusha with the theme of “peer-to-peer sharing.” There I had the opportunity to connect with fellow knowledge management professionals from 14 countries and territories and learn about approaches and innovations from the region. With panel discussions, knowledge cafés, group activities and social events, the structure of the meeting truly complemented its theme.

Tools and tactics for peer-to-peer sharing were the Share Fair's main focus. (Photo: Wycliffe Omanya)
Tools and tactics for peer-to-peer sharing were the Share Fair's main focus. (Photo: Wycliffe Omanya)

On Day 1, Willow Gerber, Senior Technical Advisor for Knowledge Exchange and Innovation at Management Sciences for Health, motivated delegates to note down three key points from every presentation. I found this practice really useful for organizing my thoughts and was fascinated by both the similarities and differences in points identified by participants. Because of what I’ve learned from Willow, I am structuring this blog post around the three themes that stood out for me at the Share Fair.

  • Leadership: Several leaders from government, intergovernmental organizations, USAID, development partners and civil society attended the Share Fair and it was heartening to see the level of understanding of and support for KM. Without vision, direction and leadership endorsement, no knowledge management endeavor can be sustainable. These leaders spoke about their commitment to knowledge exchange and their vision for an African-led KM revival.
  • Interpersonal relationships: The Share Fair highlighted the importance of connecting people to support sharing of experiences and generation of new knowledge. Knowledge originates with people and I believe that humanity’s greatest legacy is its collective wisdom. Several presenters at the Share Fair spoke about structured and informal approaches for establishing and maintaining relations to support the continuous flow of knowledge within and beyond their organizations.
  • Willingness to share and learn: The Share Fair exemplified openness to share and learn from one another. With participants from different backgrounds, with different viewpoints, different priorities and diverse experience, unique and novel KM solutions were featured, including innovative tools and technologies.

These themes do not capture the breadth and depth of the Share Fair, but are my take on the core messages. I am keen to hear what my fellow participants would list as their top three take-aways, and I cannot wait to participate in the next Share Fair.