One of the strategic priorities for the Foundation is knowledge access. This knowledge access goal is also highlighted in the Annual Plan for the Foundation. The intended outcomes are to increase accessibility to the Foundation's knowledge about the Foundation's core competencies and to enhance the availability of knowledge in these areas. The strategies used to accomplish these outcomes are: establish the Foundation's knowledge center to serve practitioners and others working in the field; enhance the availability of the Foundation's knowledge on the Internet; and provide leadership to establish a national resource on knowledge, including knowledge-based tools to assist individuals and organizations. The knowledge creation and dissemination strategic thrust will make the Foundation's knowledge more accessible and useful to internal program managers and external practitioners.
The cover of the annual report for ABC Foundation had one phrase listed: "sharing knowledge." As such, a Knowledge Initiative has been created at the Foundation to help in knowledge sharing, creation, and dissemination. According to the CEO of the Foundation, knowledge management will be a part of everyone's job at the Foundation. A major part of this Knowledge Initiative at the Foundation is the development of their knowledge transfer system website. This knowledge transfer system has a number of features including a knowledge library, communities of interest, newsfeeds, e-journals and e-magazines, resource locators, hot topics, links to internal partner pages, best practices, and other features.
According to the Knowledge Initiative Focus Group Report for the Foundation, the following findings and recommendations were made:
High use of the Internet exists at the Foundation.
Technology infrastructures vary greatly.
E-mail and e-mail updates on policy/legislation are useful.
Just-in-time approaches to learning are used.
Universities were not identified as sources of information (however, the Foundation's university community partnership initiative allows lessons learned to be shared with industry and universities).
The knowledge transfer system should be "value-added," provide practical information, and not be used for public relations reasons.
People rely on established relationships and word of mouth.
Use mixed media—video, audio, graphics, text, etc.
Prefer personalized, face-to-face approaches for interaction.
Need to develop a strategy to foster buy-in and use of the Knowledge Initiative (need to sharply define the customer base).
Need to better analyze and synthesize information—want summarized information for the users due to time constraints.
Need to include information about funding sources.
As part of the Knowledge Initiative at the Foundation, there are a number of components that are contributing towards having the Foundation be the knowledge leader in its field. First, the Foundation website contains a wealth of information to help consumers, grant seekers, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and the media. Search capabilities allow easy access to the Foundation's grants and publications. Online grant submission is also used by first accepting letters of inquiry over the Internet.
Second, the Foundation has been implementing their knowledge transfer system to provide a website to promote innovation, enhance best practices, and build online communities of practice for those interested in the Foundation's core competencies. Through the knowledge transfer system, online communities of interest and practice will be established to have online chats and threaded discussions on key issues.
Third, a Knowledge Initiative Advisory Committee (KIAC) has been established that consists of policymakers, practitioners, academics, and private industry leaders in the Foundation's field. The KIAC meets on a periodic basis to provide guidance towards building the Knowledge Initiative at the Foundation. Focus groups have also been conducted nationwide to gather input from prospective users of the Knowledge Initiative's programs and services. This feedback is instrumental in shaping the knowledge transfer system and the Knowledge Initiative programs.
Fourth, the Foundation has been making active use of its intranet to communicate and share information and knowledge internally. Strategic plans, annual plans, expertise locator (the Foundation's "find anyone"), and a myriad of other materials are available on the intranet. Questions can also be posed over the intranet or bulletin boards in order to exchange and discuss information and knowledge and help build internal communities of practice.
Fifth, the Foundation continues to reach out to its constituencies in developing a collaborative knowledge base in its core competencies. Through its active and well-funded research grants program, the Foundation has developed a vast resource for creating knowledge in its field. Additionally, the Foundation has a number of initiatives, like the University-Community Partnership Initiative, that stimulate ideas and knowledge exchanges between various organizations interested in the housing field. Also, the Foundation publishes journals that serve as important scholarly outlets for generating new knowledge in the Foundation's field.
Sixth, the Foundation is using a myriad of other knowledge sharing techniques to reach out to its constituents. Some of these methods include the Leadership and Knowledge Network, the Knowledge Initiative Speaker Series, online training and education, online consumer outreach network, and an e-grants strategy for online submission, review, and approval of grants electronically. Additionally, the Foundation is providing leadership for creating knowledge links within the Foundation's network of partnerships and structuring research affiliations so as to maximize the Foundation's innovative "virtual think tank" operating style. This is extending the Foundation's knowledge partnerships with universities and think tanks in the field.
Last, the Foundation has been working with knowledge management consultants to help build a conceptual model for knowledge management, develop a knowledge taxonomy for the industry, and assist in the development of the Foundation's knowledge management strategy and online communities.