On the last day of the CGIAR Strategic Communication Workshop in Penang, Malaysia, some of the participants kindly agreed to give their feedback on the four-day event. Find out what they had to say: what worked, what didn’t work, and what they hope to see happening as an outcome of the workshop …
Savitri Mohapatra, Communications Officer, WARDA
I didn’t realize that we would meet all the Transition Management Team members and have an in-depth conversation with them. So that was the best part of the workshop: to see that there is a vision, that the changes are really going to take place, and that communications has a role to play in the change process.
I also liked the social media exposure, because that’s something new for me. I’m excited to continue with that when I get back to WARDA.
The meeting was really participative and focused. I have been to other workshops where some people talk too much, and others don’t get a chance to speak. Simone Staiger-Rivas’s facilitation kept us focused and got output from everyone. Sometimes, we thought, “Ooh, she’s not letting us speak”, but I think it’s good to control the group. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been enough time to cover everything. It happens a lot during meetings.
In fact, the only problem was the lack of time spent on the new story ideas that are already on the calendar, but we can probably continue those via email.
Paul Stapleton, Head of Communications and Public Awareness, CIP
As far as I’m aware, everyone was very happy and satisfied about the whole workshop process. It was disrupted slightly by the Transition Management Team (TMT), but that was good because it gave us a chance to contribute to a very important process. We still managed to develop our stories, but perhaps not as intensively as planned. I think the work that we did looking at the CGIAR change process was very important and, obviously from what we heard, the TMT was very impressed with the contributions that were made. So, all in all, I think it’s been successful
I think Simone Staiger-Rivas’s facilitation was very good. Few of us were restrained about making our opinion heard, so Simone did a very good job of controlling us. She made sure everyone spoke in turn and guided the contribution. So I think most people were happy with the discussion part of the workshop as well as the presentations.
Nonetheless, I feel there should have been room for a discussion about the future of the communications group. If we could form a group with a clear identity, we might be able to make our voices heard in the CGIAR.
Mike Listman, Interim Head, Corporate Communications, CIMMYT
I came to Penang to see how CGIAR communicators can work together better in the future, whatever the form of CGIAR change. After hearing the Transition Management Team talk, my early skepticism about the change process was mitigated somewhat. The meeting was very productive, both for my own particular work agenda and, in my opinion, for the CGIAR. After not having interacted directly with the other communicators for quite some time, I was newly impressed with their professionalism, their knowledge and their enthusiasm to work together.
The workshop facilitation was very effective for what we needed to do. It helped bring out good ideas and got people working together on a common agenda. One particular aspect of facilitation that I hadn’t seen before was the Samoan Circle. I thought it was interesting and fun.
Sophie Clayton, Media Relations Manager, IRRI
I’ve only been with IRRI for six weeks, so I appreciated the importance of having a network of professionals and expertise coming together. Sessions like Nathan Russell’s that provided an historical perspective were really useful for a newcomer like me. It helped to understand where the organization has been, the support communications has received over the years, and the individual experiences and expertise.
I came into the workshop without knowing anything about the CGIAR change process, so trying to understand that, the communications of the change process, and who was responsible for what, was confusing at times. But the discussions within the communications group and with the Transition Management Team have clarified that somewhat.
The communication group’s positive outlook and willingness to contribute to the greater good, while continuing to get support for communications, was impressive. A community of communications professionals is very important. The group’s feedback into the transition process is a positive step in ensuring that the expertise within the network is in the System – I can benefit from that, too.
Michael Hailu, Director of Communications, ICRAF
Before the workshop, I’d hoped to meet with the other CGIAR communicators to talk about story ideas and also to see if we could have some interaction with the Transition Management Team (TMT). What we actually achieved exceeded my expectations. I was really impressed with the TMT’s openness, the way they took on our ideas, and the intensity of the interaction between them and the communications group.
Last year, we came together as a communications group to work on specific story ideas for the media. But it’s been two or three years since we’ve met to really think strategically and work on a plan. So it’s been nice.
Simone Staiger-Rivas did an excellent job in keeping the energy going and allowing people who are quieter to actually participate. Had the workshop not been facilitated, it would have been hard to hear everyone’s voice – in previous meetings, you’d have to fight for attention. I think overall the results were very good and the meeting has recreated the team’s enthusiasm and energy to keep it going, which I think is important.