If you have expert knowledge of an exciting community subject, use it
Do not leave people wondering what you were trying to achieve when you visited their town? People want and expect expert knowledge. The knowledge they can discuss, and the more this is true, the more your ideas and expert knowledge will get shared. Few communities have effective knowledge management systems for all community members, making knowledge management a key requirement in any community or business development program.
Without good content to support your initiatives, people will forget what you discussed with them. Irrespective of your expertise and previous experiences, only you know and understand. When people in the community share your expert knowledge and content, they are putting their reputation up for all to see. So be careful not to alienate groups or down talk minorities in the community, they too deserve to have access to sound knowledge.
A successful team is more than the sum of its parts, and it is your role to turn a collection of individuals, with their different strengths, weaknesses and personalities, into a cohesive unit with the capacity to make things happen.
Integration of knowledge assets becomes critical
Creating community cohesion means understanding team formation, and building positive relationships with and between team members. To do this effectively, you will also need access to a considerable range of tools for creating and managing a team. The most critical skill will revolve around building trust within the organisations and the community at large using expert knowledge.
Integration of all your activities becomes critical in order to leverage available knowledge.
Your ability to communicate clearly and efficiently is vital to the success any community or Economic Gardening program. Ambiguous or confused messages can lead to misunderstandings and delays in getting a program off the ground. Bringing people together to solve problems is an essential aspect of any program, so access to the right knowledge at the right time is critical.
Everyone needs to be open to new ideas, opportunities and new ways of thinking to ensure the continued success of a program. It means giving the people involved the tools they need to spark and encourage creativity which leads to innovation. This is so critical to community development in times when funding for new initiatives is difficult.
Problem-solving is a fundamental part of an Economic Gardening program
Participants need to become confident, analytical, and decisive. However, it is not something which has to be carried out in isolation. Involving people in the process can not only improve the chances of delivering successful outcomes, but it also enhances the community dynamics.
Look for people who can get projects off the drawing board and deliver them on time, and on budget. They need to be highly organised and know how to set targets and measure progress while ensuring the community understands what they have to do and when.
Economic Gardening is not a short-term ‘quick fix’, even though things can be made to happen from day one. Setting achievable objectives and priorities using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and long-term thinking is a more appropriate way of bringing about necessary changes.
It is essential for an Economic Gardner to know their strengths and capabilities
Strengths and capabilities can be grouped under the following headings:
- Know and manage your and others abilities and capacity so everyone is effective
- Manage objectives and actions which make things happen in a timely way
- Engage, work with and lead other people and volunteers
- General business acumen
- Knowledge of how a community and business ecosystems work.
What are the ‘missing links’ between you and effective expert knowledge management?
Never ‘sit on the fence’, expert knowledge must be shared, or it is a waste of time having it. While you can never have the answers to every problem. You should know where to look for the answers, or work them out. What are the most common questions you should have answers too? It will pay you to document them, which could be the start of a community’s knowledge base.
I know as well as anyone about accepting criticism, even when it is constructive, can often be demotivating and unpleasant. However, it is vital to learn how to make the most of constructive criticism and feedback. It can be a massive boost to your personal growth and the program you are implementing.
Never think you are above, or better than anyone else as arrogance, while not easy to spot in yourself, can be very damaging as people will start to avoid you, no longer wanting to receive your advice.
There are many aspects to working effectively in developing the ecosystems of the community and its businesses.
Within each heading, individual skills, tools and processes can come together to give direction and momentum to projects and initiatives. Working only on the aspects you like and are familiar with will not generate the best outcomes. Even though it might be a good starting point. It can be exciting to think how different things might be if new expert knowledge is introduced.
Starting on the right foot is half the battle
Being a community developer is not always easy. There will likely be times when you have to deal with a poor performance, or you may even have to let someone go. Other challenges might include managing conflict, dealing with negative behaviour, and managing during tough economic times. All of these things will be easier to handle if you utilise the right technology, tools, processes and checklists.
Making sure you keep up momentum is the other half, and you must get the expert advice to help you do it. Why not make knowledge management your competitive advantage?
“As an Economic Gardener, your role is to make people think, take action, not do it for them, which makes knowledge management a critical aspect of your work “. Peter Sergeant
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly”. Thomas Huxley