How to make it easier to find and publish proven solutions to common challenges in education, environment, health, and other areas of concern?


1. Natasha Sacouman is interested in practical solutions that change lives. She has experience with global development and recently completed a PhD? in sociology. Natasha teaches a gender issues course at a college in Seattle.

2. Milt Markewitz spent 26 years at IBM, has an interest in learning organizations, and later became involved with the Department of Education in Oregon where they asked "What is a World Class Education?"

3. (Session Convener) Pam Kilborn-Miller studies how information and communications technology (ICT) accelerates positive change. Her graduate research focused on how the United Nations uses knowledge networks to help partners meet common goals. She learned there's a need to make it easier to find proven solutions to common challenges in education, environment, health and other areas of concern. Solutions should be integrated from the global, national, and local levels (vertically) with academia, government, business, and other sectors. (horizontally)


A leading edge example of integrating a global organization with the local grassroots is at This model will expand to 13 more UN Country Teams. It's based on 10+ years of refining the Knowledge Network model at the UN.


1. When publishing solutions, the cultural context and underlying guiding principles need to be clarified.

2. In UNDP, the term Best Practices evolved to Good Practices which became Comparative Practices, and now Comparative Experiences is the primary information product on Solution Exchange.

3. There are no cookie cutter solutions. However, there are sometimes simple, fast, and low cost solutions. For example, a village in Africa that had a problem with wife-beating solved the problem with a community call-to-action: When a husband was beating his wife, villagers surrounded the home and yelled at the husband to shame him into stopping the violence.

4. When finding a solution, what is the simplicity below the complexity? Organizations never actually meet goals unless they are simple.

5. How do you overcome institutionalized interia? Start with the organizations and people who are eager to implement change.

6. Who are the most influential change agents? It's obviously not possible to answer this definitively, but when Pam asked the Chief of Knowledge Sharing at the UN this question, she paused and recommended that I research "Mayors" of cities, towns, and villages. They have budgets, often need to be re-elected, implement grassroots change, and communicate with the national and global levels. (This idea is consistent with the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement that was launched by the Seattle Mayor. 450+ mayors signed the agreement to meet the Kyoto Protocol in principle even though the national government didn't support it.)

7. When Publishing Solutions, how is the info presented and in whose voice? (There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for publishing solutions, but one possible approach based on UN research appears below.)

8. Solutions need to be verified for credibility.

9. Look at the connections between tasks, processes, and relationships. Relationships are critical. What are the underlying processes?

10. In terms of a self-organizing world, one reason that Toyota surpassed Ford is that any worker could stop the production line at any time if they saw a problem.

11. When something worked or didn't work, always clarify the initial assumptions and how they changed.

12. Return on investment is an important aspect of measuring a solution, but now ROI needs to include three important measures: economic, environmental, and social.


The United Nations provides a great framework for publishing solutions. Solution Exchange in India (web address above) integrates the global with the local. Local groups might want to monitor the UN approach and look for ways to align with this critical mass that already has 192 member nations. One example is using the UN's metadata schema so that local search results show up with UN info.


There is no one-size-fits-all format for publishing solutions but it still makes sense to try to identify common ground. Pam's research targeted people who use info in their jobs to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals. One question was "what are the important elements in a solution?" The common elements that emerged from 11 nations* and spanned multiple sectors (academia, government, business, NGO, etc) and goals (education, health, environment, etc.) included the following:

1. Case Study (include how solution was verified)

2. Cultural Context

3. Problem

4. Solution

5. Tools (policies, products, technologies, processes, campaigns, etc.)

6. Benefit-Cost Analysis (economic, environmental, social measurements)

7. Recommendations from the team that implemented the solution.

8. Contact Info

People searching for solutions might want to ask follow-up questions and/or discuss how the solution might apply to a different context. This might provide new business opportunities for trusted vendors.

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