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The Philippines’ Population Agency Develops a Knowledge Management Strategy to Improve FP Outcomes

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) is the official agency in charge of family planning and reproductive health in The Philippines. Established in 1970, POPCOM has a mandate of “being the technical and information resource agency in population management” in The Philippines. To fulfill this mandate, POPCOM’s management acknowledged that the agency needed a systematic and organized approach for its knowledge base on population and development, including reproductive health, gender, and population, health, and environment (PHE).

However, POPCOM’s rich tacit knowledge resided not in a single repository, but in various people in the organization. Gathering such information for use in decision making was difficult. POPCOM relied solely on information that was readily available, without scouring all the sources of information that the organization possessed.

Developing the Knowledge Management Strategy

POPCOM sought to harmonize its various knowledge initiatives and to develop a guide that would help staff appreciate, understand, and practice knowledge management. With the internal reorganization of the agency’s Information Management and Communication Division (IMCD) to the Knowledge Management and Communication Division (KMCD), the need to understand the principles and practice of knowledge management could not have been more urgent.

POPCOM invited Knowledge SUCCESS to provide technical assistance in preparing a robust knowledge management strategy for the organization. Grace Gayoso Pasion, the Knowledge SUCCESS Asia Regional Knowledge Management Officer, facilitated a process that included a five-week co-creation workshop for POPCOM staff. The knowledge management roadmap and the KM for Global Health Logic Model served as the foundation of the strategy. The KM roadmap is a systematic process for generating, collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, and sharing knowledge in global health programs and was developed by the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. The KM for Global Health Logic Model, developed by the Global Health Knowledge Collaborative, visually shows the relationship between resources, processes, outputs, and outcomes of knowledge management interventions in health programs. The workshop sessions were modeled after the five steps in the KM Roadmap:

  1. Assess Needs: POPCOM carefully assessed its knowledge management systems and processes and its own capacity for knowledge exchange, which included identifying knowledge-sharing needs and gaps in key audiences, as well as possible barriers, opportunities, and solutions in seeking, sharing, and using knowledge.
  2. Design the Strategy: POPCOM discussed and identified the health and development challenges it faced and how knowledge management could help solve them.
  3. Create and Iterate: POPCOM brainstormed and developed knowledge management solutions to address its health and development needs.
  4. Mobilize and Monitor: POPCOM formulated plans to implement the KM activities and integrate them with the rest of its systems and processes.
  5. Evaluate and Evolve: POPCOM identified outcomes and indicators for each knowledge management solution, which will allow the organization to assess each intervention’s contribution to achieving POPCOM’s ongoing goal of integrating population and development into policies at the local government level.

Significance of the Knowledge Management Strategy

According to Susana Codotco, the POPCOM Information Officer, the knowledge management strategy was designed to establish better connections and collaboration among POPCOM employees so they can more effectively and efficiently deliver outputs. This would provide the necessary support for decision making to achieve the overall goal of the Philippine Population and Development Program (PPDP), the country’s flagship program for population and development. The knowledge management strategy is also envisioned to increase productivity, create innovations, and improve client relations.

The strategy will help POPCOM find ways to enhance its performance and contribute to its program goals by harnessing existing knowledge solutions and improving workplace learning. It will be used to identify areas for further improvement and increased collaboration, and guide the creation of new tools to address emerging concerns relative to PPDP’s implementation efforts, both in internal and external environments built around a culture of learning, sharing, and replicating established mechanisms.

Improving Family Planning and Reproductive Health Outcomes

POPCOM’s broader intentions include setting up a knowledge management Technical Working Group; conducting staff training workshops on skills such as photography, photo editing, and good practices documentation; and creating a resource center and an intranet for staff to share information and consult as a reliable information hub. The agency will conduct Peer-Assist and After-Action reviews, hold coaching and mentoring sessions on knowledge management concepts, and develop online assessment tools to measure staff knowledge of the concepts.

“I believe the knowledge management strategy helped POPCOM identify clear-cut goals and will help them focus and prioritize the essential initiatives to achieve their goal, which is for local government units to prioritize implementing and adopting an integrated approach to population and development. POPCOM was able to determine that achieving their development goal means improving their staff’s knowledge, appreciation, and use of an integrated approach to population and development, and using systematic knowledge management practices to increase collaboration among staff,” said Pasion.

Codotco observes that the strategy will help POPCOM improve access to information as a basis for decision making to achieve family planning and reproductive health outcomes. Yet, she adds that it will not only improve program measures, but population and development as a whole: “The strategy will increase collaboration among the Divisions of the Commission to promote knowledge generation, sharing, and use. This will facilitate a better learning and communication environment among the staff, with organized information and knowledge sources and referral systems. As a result, it will become easier to serve the external stakeholders’ need for information not only on family planning but population and development. POPCOM will assume its position, the position of authority on information in the field of population and development.”

Lessons Learned

Codotco acknowledges that without technical assistance from Knowledge SUCCESS, it would have been difficult for POPCOM to establish the strategy and convene the helpful perspectives that enhanced the strategy. As she explains, “Some of the knowledge management solutions were in place and being used in the organization, but we did not know them. The practices were unconsciously being done, in a very limited scope though. Having a structured knowledge management process and roadmap was crucial. Identifying barriers and opportunities that turn out to be possible solutions to facilitate and enhance collaboration between and among staff was not easy at the start, but once they were seen in the knowledge management context, the culture of learning within the organization turned out to be a natural phenomenon. We learned that collaboration among staff is a prerequisite to successful knowledge management practice. Without it, knowledge sharing will be difficult and POPCOM would experience a repeat of the problems it earlier had: scattered information sources, undocumented practices, unproven solutions to perceived barriers, etc.”

Pasion stresses the importance of diversity and collaboration: “We learned that the process of developing a knowledge management strategy is more effective when the participants are drawn not from the communications department or division alone but from across the organization: information technology, finance, administration and planning, monitoring and evaluation units, and regional and provincial staff, among others. POPCOM appreciated the idea that knowledge management is everyone’s responsibility because this provides diverse perspectives and knowledge that help create a holistic strategy.”

Are you interested in developing a knowledge management strategy for your organization or seeking guidance on the process? You can consult these resources or find out more by contacting Gayo or submitting your interest through our Contact Us form.

POPCOM employees wearing masks sit around a conference table to discuss their mandate at an internal meeting. Image credit: POPCOM
Brian Mutebi

Contributing Writer

Brian Mutebi is an award-winning journalist, development communication specialist, and women’s rights campaigner with 11 years of solid writing and documentation experience on gender, women’s health and rights and development for national and international media and civil society organisations. The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health named him one of its “120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders” on the strength of his journalism and media advocacy on family planning and reproductive health. He is a 2017 recipient of Gender Justice Youth Award in Africa, described by News Deeply as “one of Africa’s leading women’s rights crusaders.” In 2018, Mutebi was included on Africa’s prestigious list of “100 Most Influential Young Africans.”

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