Since participating in the first Knowledge Sharing Workshop in March-May 2008, I’ve been trying to implement new processes, technologies and methods for KS into my work. Simone wrote a nice post about this back in July. Seven months and one Share Fair later, it was time to do some show and tell with a small group of staff at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) , and show them how new ways of sharing knowledge had made a big impact for our projects.

With our communication director’s consent, we set up a brown bag lunch (ok catered cafeteria lunch) with our communications unit and library last week to share with them what we’ve been doing at the ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins. I used examples from our work to introduce them to the concept of blogs (which we use for our news site), rss/feedreaders (how we gather news) and social bookmarking (how we encourage our scientists to share resources), explaining why we chose these tools and how they work for us.

I also showed the commoncraft videos to give an overview of RSS and social bookmarking, which people seemed to like. I asked my peers, a mixed group that included IT people, designers, librarians and communications officers, to think about how these tools might be applicable in a wider ICRAF context or even in their personal day to day work. We had a brief discussion about the benefits of getting comfortable with tools for your personal use before trying to apply them to a project or institution. This led to a request that we hold a technical “hands on” session sometime soon to help people set up their own news aggregators and delicious accounts. People were really interested in general and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to learn these new concepts. People were specifically interested in how we were tracking impact — I pointed to a huge increase in site hits, publication downloads, requests for information and more hard evidence that our research was getting the attention it deserves.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be delivering a modified version of the same session, but this time sharing our stories with the wider ICRAF community. One of my objectives is to invite all the communications staff from the CG institutions hosted at ICRAF (CIMMYT, G&D, MDG Centre etc) to help build a local community of practice on our campus .

An even bigger objective is to get senior leadership onboard, and ask some of my scientist colleagues who have been benefitting from these tools to be knowledge sharing ambassadors. It’s always more convincing coming from someone well-established inside the institution.

Overall I hope that the upcoming seminar will get people aware and interested in new KS approaches and realize they can learn from experiences within ICRAF and within the CG (and that there are many resource people to turn to). I’ll be sharing periodic updates about this process so please stay tuned!

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