Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Project Posters

These are the projects that participants have been working on and where phase 3 can provide opportunities for joint learning:

  • Selam Alemayehu (ILRI): Enhancing research through a collaborative approach. Implement a tool that strengthens collaborative research and work.
  • Vanessa Meadu (ICRAF): A Web site to support the PRESA Community of Practice.
  • Nadia Manning (ICT-KM): Knowledge sharing in research
  • Sandra Velarde: Building knowledge together in the Amazon
  • Alexandra Jorge (ILRI): Building best practices on gene bank management
  • Yuan Octafian (CIFOR): Forestry 2.0
  • Jean (ILRI): Developing best practices for forage germplasm management
  • Grace Ndungu (ILRI): Global Challenge Dialogue
  • Florencia Tateossian (CGIAR Secretariat) : Build a supportive tool for collaborative communication across CGIAR communications and resource mobilization people.
  • Dina Satrio (CIFOR): Promote the usage of our Intranet
  • Janice Proud (ILRI): KS within the Napier Grass disease resistance project team
  • Gauri Salokhe (FAO): The FAO Knowledge Fair
  • Maria Grazia Bovo (FAO): A new FAO permanent representatives Web site
  • Nicole Demers (Bioversity): A new SGRP Platform on CGIAR genetic resources
  • Pete Shelton (IFPRI): IFPRI Intranet 2.0
  • Davy Simumba (ZARI): KS within the Zambian research networks
  • Dady Damby (FARA/RAILS): Building KS capacity of RAILS learning teams
  • Daniel Mwesige (ASARECA): Development of a project management and information system

On our last day and before lunch we hold a session based on the needs and knowledge gaps that we had identified the day before, and that participants considered as important for their projects. We used the session to introduce the Open Space Technology, even if we used it only to a certain extent. Participants could add session topics to those that we had previously identified. They were then asked to sign up for a maximum of two sessions. A short review of the numbers of sessions and the sign-ups, the group decided to go for two rounds of parallel sessions on 4 different topics:

  • Monitoring and evaluation of KS
  • How to choose a KS tool or method
  • How to identify user needs
  • Learning more about RSS, CMS and Yellow Pages

Here is a summary of the M&E discussion:

Two types of M&E have been discussed among Selam, Pete, Gauri, Petr, Maria Grazia, Nadia, Grace, and Sandra:
1) M&E of Web resources
2) M&E of KS

  1. On the first topic Pete Shelton pointed us to a blog he wrote on that topic where he lists a few potential indicators for measuring impact on the web while commenting their overall value and utility: Page views/visitors, downloads, citations, mentions in the media, RSS feeds, Search Engine rankings. Pete would like to identify IFPRI’s different audiences and perhaps use a planning, and M&E method to reach them more effectively.
  2. On the second topic we mentioned and briefly introduced some possible methods, like the Impact Pathways, Outcome Mapping, Innovation Histories or Most Significant Change. Those methods have in common that they provide ways to look at behavioral changes through SNA, storytelling, interviews, and more.

Gauri mentioned an effort at FAO to measure the usefulness of Communities of Practice at FAO. The number of members of s CoP (they are run on Dgroups) is not an indicator of success. Gauri asked for ways to find out more about their impact. The group suggested doing a survey combined with a set of interviews. Nadia raised the issue of the need to always combine different methods in order to cover different aspects of M&E.

This week I have been attending the Face-to-Face part of the Knowledge Sharing Workshop at ILRI in Addis. The F2F part builds upon a month of online discussion on KS tools and methods. Today I had the opportunity to benefit from the collective knowledge of colleagues working at various CG institutions, FAO and FARA and at the same time, learn about an extremely useful KS Method called  Peer Assist.

We started off the session by watching and getting introduced to the Peer Assist Method. As we were more than 10, we were divided into two different groups. As a Peer Assistee, the person or team facing a challenge or problem, I had the opportunity to discuss the issue of getting buy-in from the Staff members of the Rome-based agencies (Bioversity International, IFAD, FAO, WFP) to participate in the upcoming Knowledge Fair. The discussion was facilitated by Vanessa.


During the first group discussion, I had the opportunity to detail out my issues and gather feedback from the colleagues. Once we finished the first session and moved to the second, the task of explaining the problem seemed much lighter. I detailed out the problem, refining it slightly based on the feedback I received in the first group. Vanessa then read out the points we had gathered from the first discussion. Because we already had covered some of the ideas, the participants felt that in the second round, they had the opportunity to build-on the ideas and give additional suggestions.

Here are just few of the ideas that surfaced during the two rounds of discussions we had:

  • Prepare a strong marketing strategy to raise awareness and build interest
  • Ensure that the event is perceived as a collaborative effort rather than led by just one organization
  • Show examples of cross organizational, multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual knowledge sharing
  • Involve staff from different departments from participating organizations who are currently doing activities that demonstrate knowledge sharing.

I thought the role of the facilitator was crucial in ensuring that the discussion stayed on track and that important points were well captured.

More information on the Peer Assist Method is available from the KS Toolkit Wiki.

How do we get buy-in and commitment to KS, how do we engage our target groups?
This is an issue that came up over and over again as a principle challenge for KS during phase 1 of the workshop and also now in our meeting here in Addis. That is why we decided to give us an extra opportunity to tackle the issue in our first morning session. We choose the Peer Assist methodology and provided space for two groups: Grace Ndungu from ILRI wanted to get feedback on possible ways to engage participants into ILRI’s upcoming dialogue on climate change and health. Gauri Salokhe asked in her group for ideas and suggestions on how to get broad buy-in at FAO for the Knowledge Fair planned for December this year. Here is a summary of the two discussion rounds around Grace’s challenge:
IlRI and partner organizations have identified climate change and its consequences on human and livestock health as a niche for further research. Google provided funds to undertake a broad consultation in order to define pertinent research questions and be able to formulate proposals. ILRI has set up a working group composed by “champions” who represent the various actors. The following consultation process has been designed:

  • A “challenge paper” has been written by scientists that lay out the overall framework and challenges
  • An invitation has been sent to 200 stakeholders for participation.
  • Their feedback on the paper will be taken into a count and build the starting point for an online dialogue to be held between June and August.
  • A face to face meeting will be held in September.

Grace’s issues were summarized by the group and with the help of the facilitator, Florencia as follows:How to get buy-in from researchers from the climate change, health, and livestock sector, people who are not used to work together? How can we reach a level of trust that motivates participation? How could we address different types of participants with different levels of knowledge and different perspectives?

Here are some examples of feedback that Grace got from the two groups:

  • Strengthen the group of champions (conference calls, pre-meeting) and promote the event through the champions to attract attention from stakeholders. Create short podcast with champions who could share the importance of the topic and consultation process.
  • Don’t start from scratch, build on what you have (people, resources).
  • Multiply the communication channels to address multiple publics and information consummation habits: A Web site with basic information resources, e-mail invitations that are forwarded by champions, a blog that could help diffuse the content of the challenge paper by small bits and cover the whole event.
  • Create perhaps a linkage to the high-level conference on climate change in Rome in September.
  • For the online dialogue, pay attention to the platform (e-mail or web based or both), the need of a facilitator, the rythme and structure over the weeks. Give options to time-poor participants to digest the dialogue.
  • Look at materials, existing experiences and evaluations of on-line events.

Peer Assist

Day 3 agenda