..is the basic thread to the story that Enrica Porcari gave to all the CGIAR participants who attended a pre-meeting to the Share Fair starting tomorrow-Tuesday 20th January 2009.

Enrica described how alot of valuable knowledge sharing can happen during a simple event such as having a cup of coffee with friends and colleagues. She illustrated this point by explaining how the jointly-organised Share Fair between Bioversity International, CGIAR and its ICT-KM Program, FAO, IFAD and WFP- had many beginnings in discussions that emerged over a cup of coffee.

I think that this refelects an important point about knowledge sharing. It highlights that knowledge sharing doesn’t always have to be rocket science, complicated, a blue print approach or even new. Sometimes we need to take a look at real ways in which people share knowledge and capitalse on these in our work life too.

Approaches like World Cafe build on this principle-emerging from the recognition that people gathered together for a coffee in a cafe will often freely and meaningfully talk for ages over a wide range of topics, made comfortable by the setting and format–more so than if put into a meeting room with a pre-set agenda and structure. The World Cafe approach mimics a cafe setting by arranging tables for people to sit at in groups, usually with tea and coffee available. With paper on the tables groups are encouraged to have open discussions on certain questions or topics posed, writing and drawing on the paper tablecloths and can move around freely to other tables.

I and many others have used this approach with great success. Some sessions will use this approach during the Share Fair.

So perhaps we should find more natural human and social activities in which knowledge is shared to modify for our work purposes–perhaps we’ll learn from some examples during the Share Fair.