Convince or collaborate? Getting the most out of K*

The K* 2012 conference got off to a thought-provoking start with a stimulating keynote speech from Derek Brien and John N. Lavis

Why K* is important?

Exploring what the K* field is and where it should be going, Derek opened the debate by emphasising his belief in the value of Kstar practitioners. “I’m here because Kstar works, and we’re here to make it better”, he said.

Over the past two decades the need for knowledge in developing and strengthening policy has become of critical importance. “We once bemoaned the fact that we lived in a world with poor access to information” but now, highlighted David “ we find ourselves a flood with data, facts and figures. But with this push we find ourselves, “in a world obsessed with evidence based this and evidence based that – but in reality all this ‘evidence’ can easily just become noise.

Derek Brien - Pacific Institute of Public Policy - Kstar, convince or collaborate?

Derek Brien - Pacific Institute of Public Policy

A burgeoning field in its own right, K* attempts to ensure that knowledge becomes much more than mere noise in the policy process, but is heard (by the right people) and acted upon. To avoid an avalanche of data, “we must create spaces for informed discussion”, said David. Isolation will not work, research must be immersed within the policy process.

To emphasise the importance of encouraging Kstar practitioners to emerge from their silos, David quoted from the poet Robert Frost – “we work together whether we work together or alone” – a poignant point which becomes ever more relevant in today’s increasingly connected world. By sharing experiences, successes and frustrations in working across the knowledge-policy interface, David called for the forging of a network of Kstar entrepreneurs – a task Kstar 2012 is on the path to establishing.

Process and outcome – when two tribes go to war

The focus of Derek’s address stressed the divide separating practitioners and policy-makers in how they understand and use Kstar toolkits. For some, navigating the knowledge-policy interface should focus on process. The K* process is key to helping people to make the best possible decision. This approach focuses on supporting people so that they can better access, use and understand knowledge. It is not about offering solutions. For others, outcome reigns supreme. What is most important in this instance is helping people to make the ‘right’ decision. Subtle, but a crucial difference.

Drawing on his own experience from the Pacific Institute of Public Policy , Derek warned participants against potential danger of focusing solely on outcome, saying:

“…if the research base is to effect change then it has to be immersed in the live policy debate. Policy is about politics. And politics is about people, their motivations and relationships.”

Thus, for David it is important to focus on the journey, not merely the destination. Here, Kstar has a crucial role to play. As David pointed out the knowledge-policy process is incredibly complex, but “drawing on the tools of Kstar, collaborative networks can support knowledge brokers to grow” and ensure that knowledge remains at the heart of policy and decision making.

Derek reflected on his keynote in the following video interview, drawing out some of his own key points:

What next?

With a vibrant and diverse mix of panels, the K*conference 2012  hopes to explore and unpick some of these tensions and build on participants’ experience of what worked well, when, where and why.  We welcome you to share your stories, insights, hope and frustrations and look forward to building and extending the K* community.

Remember to follow the conversation online….

If you can’t make the conference, you don’t have to miss out. With full social media reporting, including blogs, video interviews, live tweets and much more, we are mobilising the power of social media so you can contribute to the conference anywhere, anytime!  Subscribe to GDNet blog alerts for a daily digest of conference news, follow @Connect2GDNet and #Kstar2012 for live updates and comments on discussion, and watch the live Webcast with 120 lines available for login globally.

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