Welcome to ISPI’s Organizational Spotlight! This column focuses on our members-some you may know, some you may not. Each month, we will explore what brought them to ISPI, how they use the principles of human performance technology (HPT), and their insights into the value of membership. This month our interview is with Andrew Reuter, Senior Knowledge Management Specialist, QED Group, LLC.

The QED Group, LLC is a full-service consulting firm that provides practical solutions to social problems through sound analysis, proven management techniques, and creative implementation. The QED Group applies programmatic experiences and lessons learned across our domestic and international work to provide more holistic and comprehensive solutions. QED Group, LLC has worked with private-sector clients, U.S. agencies and overseas governments, international donors, and PVOs/NGOs in the United States, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Where does The QED Group, LLC work?
QED is a global management consulting firm. QED has projects based in Washington, DC and overseas. We’ve worked in 77 countries, and have experience in some of the most challenging environments around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Yemen. Specifically, we deliver knowledge management (KM), monitoring evaluation (M&E), and technical services on economic growth, health, and democracy and governance initiatives.

How does QED approach human performance technology in each of these landscapes? Is it different? How so?
QED helps its clients implement processes and platforms to capture, manage, and leverage their collective intellectual assets. QED’s approach to performance improvement looks at how people interact and how they seek information; then we determine how to enhance and maximize the benefits of this interaction with process, organizational, and technology improvements.

How we approach performance improvement varies depending on the environment. Our Washington-based work relies on the development of overarching, open source solutions that connect people to subject-matter expertise. A great example is our Knowledge-Driven International Development portal at http://kdid.org. Our overseas work is usually about building systems to capture and analyze data efficiently, and then quantifying results to improve decision making or tell a story about how a project is making an impact.

How does QED adapt to performance improvement needs for the today’s variety of generational workforces?
In the last few years, we’ve started integrating tools like social networking and geographic information systems into our KM systems. The expectations of those entering the workforce today-all of whom are digital natives and have grown up in a wired world-are that they should be able to find the nuggets of knowledge that they need to do their best work quickly and easily. Success comes down to being able to enhance and improve their performance.

As a consequence, we’re seeing more demand for blended learning solutions-specifically, online training that supplements classroom instruction-and other face-to-face performance enhancing techniques like peer assists. The professionals entering today’s workforce need to access just-in-time training and tap into the experience and judgment of others. We’ve also helped launch and nurture learning networks for entry and mid-level professionals, as well as grantees.

How do you use social media in your work as a solution?
We’re excited about the ways that social media can be used for KM. When people develop and share their own multimedia content, they can extend their experiences to others, and that’s a very powerful paradigm. We are actively piloting the use of social media in the communities of practice and learning networks that we support.

In the Web 1.0 world, you built a web property, loaded it up with proprietary content, and tried to drive everyone to it. And when they got there, you hoped they could find what they were looking for. Now, Web 2.0 lets us take user-generated content and loosely couple it together, mash it up, syndicate it, or aggregate it. We can now get our information out without anyone ever coming directly to our website. We can use channels to broadcast our knowledge freely and democratically, and make it available to anyone who wants to use it.

How has QED’s approach to performance improvement changed over time?
The goal of international development in general is founded on the idea of performance improvement: make developing countries better so that they control of their own destinies, and we can reduce their need for our foreign assistance dollars. Therefore, the idea of “sustainability” is paramount. What that means is working closely with local organizations like small businesses and civil society organizations to build their capacity. That requires the ability to transfer knowledge and put systems in place that can be financially and functionally viable within the country long after the international donor funding stops flowing.

In the past, transferring that knowledge was seen simply as a function of training. But now, the international development community understands that strengthening local organizations effectively requires a variety of human and institutional capacity development interventions. We’ve been involved with that transformation. For example, we are currently working on a health project in Afghanistan where we trained a team of four local M&E specialists and have been funding them for about three years. To make the M&E services they provide available to the health sector after the end of the project, we plan to transition their employment to a local association that will be able to continue providing similar M&E services to its stakeholders in a way that’s financially sustainable.

What excites you about ISPI’s work?
We’re excited to be part of ISPI. New technologies, process improvements, and other innovations are constant. As a management discipline, performance improvement has an ever-expanding body of knowledge, and we look forward to engaging with others to share experiences and hear the lessons they’ve learned.