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Knowledge Management and Design Thinking

Participant Perspectives From Four Regional Workshops

How can hands-on, collaborative approaches – like design thinking – help us re-imagine knowledge management in family planning and reproductive health? Participants from four regional co-creation workshops share their experience.

Patrick leads projects and offers technical support at a youth-led organization in Uganda.
Valérie focuses on resource mobilization for a francophone NGO in Cameroon.
Jan develops national strategic direction for family planning programs in The Philippines.
Luis advises on knowledge management for a non-profit in the United States.

While these four professionals come from various backgrounds, speak different languages, and work in distinct corners of the globe, what unites them all is their drive to improve family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) outcomes in their countries and across the world.

To achieve this goal, they all need to routinely share, search for, adapt, and apply up-to-date, quality FP/RH knowledge in their day-to-day work lives. Common challenges – ranging from poor internet access, to untranslated resources, to a lack of coordination between partners and stakeholders – create roadblocks that make it harder for them and others to do so.

Intersection of Knowledge Management and Design Thinking

Knowledge SUCCESS is combining knowledge management and design thinking to create opportunities for FP/RH professionals to identify, explore, and prioritize together what is working in their region, as well as brainstorm and test their own solutions to address what isn’t working. By engaging first-hand with FP/RH professionals to collaborate around their shared experiences, we can design and implement innovative solutions that best meet their actual knowledge sharing needs. This is called design thinking using a co-creation approach.

US-based participants present and test their knowledge solution prototypes during the closing plenary session of a co-creation sprint in June, 2020.

The Regional Co-Creation Workshops

From April to July, 2020, Knowledge SUCCESS hosted four co-creation workshops—an integral step in its design thinking process—convening FP/RH professionals working in English-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa, French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the United States. The workshops challenged participants to “reimagine the ways that they access and use evidence and best practices to optimize FP/RH programs.” The participants’ collaborative efforts generated rich insights into the knowledge management experiences of FP/RH professionals and produced 14 early-stage knowledge solution prototypes.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workshop organizers and facilitators had to adapt what was originally planned as an in-person workshop series to a virtual format consisting of Zoom calls, Google Drives, digital sticky notes, and WhatsApp groups. Since virtual co-creation is a new approach to problem-solving for many professionals working in global health, we interviewed one participant from each of the regional workshops — Patrick, Valérie, Jan, and Luis — to give the broader FP/RH community a behind-the-scenes look into this unique activity.

Sophie Weiner

Program Officer II, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Sophie Weiner is a Knowledge Management and Communications Program Officer II at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs where she is dedicated to developing print and digital content, coordinating project events, and strengthening capacity for storytelling in Francophone Africa. Her interests include family planning/reproductive health, social and behavior change, and the intersection between population, health, and the environment. Sophie holds a B.A. in French/International Relations from Bucknell University, an M.A. in French from New York University, and a master’s degree in Literary Translation from the Sorbonne Nouvelle.