Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


Patti Kristjanson

Patti Kristjanson

A reaction to the CSI conference from Patti Kristjanson
Leader, Innovation Works Initiative
International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Governments, particularly in places like Africa, collect all this data. And they hang onto it. It’s starting to change, but it is still challenging even to find government data and maps in many African countries.

But now, through sites like GoogleEarth, everybody can put up spatial information and make it available to the world. People will actually know what’s going on and where.

This knowledge is power! When people see what’s really going on—the trends in water, in soils, livestock, farming, hunger, disease, and poverty–it will change the way governments function in Africa.

With CSI and collaboration across CGIAR centres, we have a great opportunity to bring together our spatial information on poverty and environment. Together, we can tell a truly powerful story on issues the world cares about–more powerful than we can do as individual centres.

Our comparative advantage lies in the analyses we do to address these tough challenges . And we can really take advantage of opportunities now offered to reach the world by putting our spatial analyses on GoogleEarth, MapMaker, HealthMap and others.

Google Earth is not doing any such spatial analyses, but sure doesn’t mind sharing our results!

More opinions from the participants in the CSI meeting can be found in this blog searching for CSI09

The Spider Diagram method is a “quick and dirty” way to get a useful snapshot about how participants evaluate a workshop. Use it along with interviews and if necessary in addition to a more formal survey. It allows you to give participants an immediate visual impression of the group’s thinking related to an event.

We used it this time to get an idea of how the group felt about the accomplishment of the workshop objectives and the different sessions of this 3 ½ day event.

Did we accomplish what we planned to do?

  • “Identify a set of story ideas”: Definitively yes.
  • “Identify means, incentives, and opportunities to strengthen collective communications”: participants agree that this was achieved “more or less”.
  • “Develop a work plan for 2009 collective communications”; And “Provide input into the CGIAR Reform”: Some say yes, some say more or less.

How did the different sessions go?

  • The two opportunities of a dialogue with the Transition Management Team where highly appreciated and got the best rankings.

The group appreciated almost equally:

  • The River of Life where Nathan Russell, with the help of many long time members of the group, reviewed the history of the different attempts of collective communication actions in the CGIAR.
  • The Speed Open Space where participants could share and learn more about other’s peoples work and ideas in 20 minute parallel sessions.
  • The presentation by Helen Leitch (WorldFish) on the results of WorldFish’s CGIAR center survey on Communications.

Another group of similar and positive rated sessions were:

  • The story development session led by Jeff Hawskins from Burness Communications.
  • The collective effort to set up and prioritize a work plan for 2009.

The one single session that received mixed evaluation was the Samaon Circle on Communications in the New CGIAR. Was it because of the topic or the format of the session? This is something we still need to figure out.

Social, Logistics (thanks WorldFish) and facilitation got very positive rankings.

As part of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project grants were given out to 6 selected proposals for knowledge sharing activities or approaches to be undertaken.

One of these was put forward by David Raitzer of CIFOR on behalf of the System-wide Initiative on Priority Assessment entitled: ” Shared Learning to Enhance Research Priority Assessment Practices “.

This project proposed to bring together and share- using various knowledge sharing activities- a range of methods for research prioritization, which are in themselves a knowledge sharing activity by virtue of supporting Centres  to make explicit their knowledge, ideas, lessons and reasons about research to undertake.

One of the main results is the compilation of chapters based on many CGIAR and other organizations’ methods and experiences.

CABI is publishing this book, which will initially be on sale and then information will be available online.

A flyer—see image below– was recently developed and has been circulated to advertise this valuable resource which will soon be ready.

Watch this space for further announcements…cifor-cabi-book-flyer

Susan MacMillan

Susan MacMillan

I was happy to meet Susan MacMillan, Head of Public Awareness at ILRI, in Penang at the CGIAR strategic communications meeting. We had met for the last time at AGM08 where she attended the first day of the Knowledge Management, Education and Learning Workshop. That event had kicked off with a presentation by Steve Song from the Shuttleworth Foundation. Steve introduced participants to the fundamental changes around Web 2.0 tools. While I was fascinated by his talk, I was wondering what Susan was doing in the back of the room, very actively typing in her lap top. I am ashamed to admit that I thought she was doing email and not paying attention to what I considered as a crucial opportunity for the participants and the research and development community as a whole.  Later on, Susan shared with me the amazing article which she had written for ILRI’s Intranet during Steve’s presentation about the potential of web 2.0. Very kindly Susan authorized us to publish the text as a blog post. Now, meeting again in Penang I was even more delighted about her telling me how much this presentation had impressed her and opened the doors for ILRI’s path towards social media. While she became an ambassador for social media in her center, the Webteam already plans an ILRI Web site renewal based on the principles and tools of social media tools.

Paul Stapleton

Paul Stapleton

The second example could be called CIP 2.0. While Paul Stapleton, CIP’s Head of Communications and Public Awareness,  was one of the first to sign up for the recent social media online workshop, we discovered that he uses social media a lot for personal purposes, but hasn’t started to consider it for CIP’s communication processes. That changed quickly during and after the workshop: Paul was immediately part of the CGIAR Yammer group that was created during the Penang meeting, and has become a daily user of it. Once back in Lima, he included social media ideas into a presentation to his management, who got very excited about the prospects and so Paul is going to start a wiki for them.

Those are very encouraging examples for all of us who are working towards the use of innovative communications and knowledge sharing tools and methods.

Thank you Susan and Paul for your open minds and enthusiasm!

Want to find out what was cooking at the CGIAR Strategic Communications Workshop in Penang, Malaysia?

Below, you can find out the ingredients that went into this four-day event. Read what the Transition Management Team had to say; what the CGIAR Communications Heads had to say; what the CIO had to say; what one of the facilitators had to say; and much more …

Then you can have your say, simply by leaving a comment or two.

Yammer Like a Twit

The Rise and Fall of Future Harvest – An Interview with Ruth Raymond

What Gets our Communications Leaders Excited?

Pictures Tell the Story

Finally, a CGIAR Reform Initiative with Legs

Giving the Sleeping Giant a Voice – An Interview with Klaus von Grebmer

A Collective Slam Dunk – An Interview with Nathan Russell

All You Have to Do Is Expose Yourself … So said Enrica Porcari

Fiona Chandler: Waiting for the Next Dance

Of Brick Bats and Kudos – An Interview with Simone Staiger-Rivas

What the participants are saying …

What the Transition Management Team is saying …

Spider Diagrams: CGIAR Strategic Communications Workshop Evaluation