Reports


Here is the flow of blog posts that document our recent social media workshop:

  1. Workshop Announcement
  2. Introductions Summary: A Mind Map
  3. Conference Call 1A Summary
  4. Conference Call 1B Summary
  5. The Challenge of introducing new tools: About attitudes and preferences
  6. The web site is not the community: it’s the people
  7. You Mean Unfinished is Good? Yes!
  8. Workshop Evaluation

For information about social media tools, please go to the KS Toolkit at www.kstoolkit.org.

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As you can see from my previous three posts, I am wrapping up the Institutional KS project. This doesn’t mean that ICT-KM stops working on KS realted issues, far from that. However, as the project ended, we are going through a process of final evaluations, reporting and sharing of the results. Here is the summary of the final project report. Have a look at the lessons learnt and help me improving those / adding lessons I might have overseen.

Download the full report (650kb)

The Institutional Knowledge Sharing (IKS) project has completed its second phase (January 2007 to April 2009) to improve the CGIAR’s effectiveness. It promoted collaborative learning and innovation. It also supported effective use of KS approaches and tools throughout the CGIAR and its R&D partnerships. The project assumes that knowledge-sharing (KS) principles, attitudes, and skills can support organizational development; that these would help build internal capacity so that staff can work more effectively towards their institutional missions and sustain their organizations over the long term. These assumptions led the project to work at three different CGIAR levels: system, center, and community.

Video

A Revitalized CGIAR - Video

At the system level, the project demonstrated how KS methods and principles can open up meaningful spaces for face-to-face dialogues by enabling the establishment of explicit objectives and carefully designed group dynamics. The IKS also enhanced those virtual communications processes and products in the system that are related to current change processes. Furthermore, the project strengthened the capacity of CGIAR communications leaders in the area of innovative tools and methods.

cifor

CIFOR's strategic planning process

At the center level, the project supported three pilot projects in three centers—IRRI, WorldFish, and CIFOR—to experiment with innovative KS techniques. Each pilot project led to concrete outcomes or products that can be replicated in other centers or partner organizations. KS activities in six CGIAR centers, carried out by the IKS project during phase 1, were evaluated for progress, challenges, and lessons learned. Center communications staff also attended a KM strategy workshop to think about collective action in this area. The IKS project’s host center, CIAT, also benefited from project leadership and has incorporated KS tools and approaches into its communication plans and activities.

sharefair

ShareFair 09

At the community level, the project designed and delivered workshops on knowledge sharing and social media. So far, 110 CGIAR staff and partners have been trained; a KS Toolkit has been improved and expanded to become a key resource for knowledge practitioners; partnerships have been formed with FAO and other development organizations, as well as with KM4Dev, for capacity strengthening efforts; the Share Fair 09 at FAO demonstrated the project’s key inputs into the thriving KS movement. Through its network of 180 strong contacts, the project involves an estimated 9,000 users.

The initial project framework was prepared, conceptualized, and widely shared among interested centers and partner organizations, who then identified the three possible entry points for KS, as described above.

Simone Social Media

Social Media Talk CIAT

The project pioneered communications and documentation efforts that were relevant beyond the ICT–KM program. The use of social media has helped raise the profile of both project and program in the research-and-development arena. The project also delivered products such as leaflets, posters, and a peer-reviewed journal article with eight co-authors, all KS workshop participants.

toolkit

KS Toolkit

An end-of-project survey highlighted the project’s achievements, especially the usefulness of its workshops, KS Toolkit, and Web resources. Most of the 37 respondents considered the project’s achievements as excellent (36%) or good (53%). They (94%) also stated that project participation increased their understanding of KS issues and/or improved their ability to apply KS principles, methods, and tools to their work. The project leader’s effectiveness in supporting project participation was rated by 70% of participants as excellent, and 27% as good. Also, 97% stated they had made useful contacts during their participation in the project. All 37 respondents declared that as many as 1,850 people had been reached through the project’s activities or products as a consequence of their participation. If this ratio is upscaled to the project’s 180 strong contacts, then about 9,000 people have probably been reached through project activities.

Principle Lessons Learnt

The second phase of the Knowledge-Sharing project and its activities crystallized some important lessons:

Lever the multiple entry points: The project showed how effective working on three levels—system, centers, and community—is for mainstreaming KS and allowing bottom-up approaches and leadership support to confront challenges and create an amplifier effect.

Clarify definitions: The phase 1 evaluation study revealed that the project had neglected to work continuously on the issue of KS definitions and to make explicit the evolution of those definitions. By doing so, KS could be better positioned and promoted.

Learn by doing: At the center level, the pilot project approach delivered three products (IRRI’s Research Data Management Wiki, WorldFish’s  video “Storymercial”, Cifor’s processes for participatory strategic planning). However, the call for proposal and “classical” project implementation model was counterproductive to the KS principle of joint learning by doing. This didn’t facilitate the socializing and promoting of the experiences.

Facilitate: We are not experts, but facilitators for research for development. Hence, the effort to cultivate networks and relationships in accordance with relevant thematic inputs has paid off. The decision to share unfinished content was good: it encouraged dialogue; opportunely delivered useful material; and left time and space for adaptation, improvements, and adoption.

Partner up: The project showcased how strong and successful involvement in related but external communities of practitioners (KM4Dev and FAO) can make a project stand out and thus raise its profile within its host institution.

Adapt management: The ability to make needed adjustments and benefit from unexpected opportunities was crucial to the project’s success. It was relevant to have planned the budget accordingly.

Monitor and evaluate: The project consistently evaluated its activities. However, a more consistent M&E framework could have been identified and implemented from the beginning to increase the value of current M&E efforts.

Future possibilities

Opportunities were identified at all three levels of intervention:

  • System, for example, supporting consultations on change processes, and sharing knowledge on those in innovative and transparent ways
  • Center, in terms of capacity strengthening and collective action
  • Community, through continuous improvement of KS resources and partnership development

Evaluation demonstrated the power of KS principles, tools, and methods for revitalizing the CGIAR. Indeed, they are crucial in times of globalization, networking, intense research and development, and CGIAR change. Hence, these principles and products will continue to be used, and to be strengthened as they are adopted, adapted, and improved.

In July 2008 the Institutional Knowledge Sharing (IKS) Project commissioned RE4D.net to conduct an independent evaluation of the first phase (2004-2006) of the Knowledge Sharing project. This study assesses the results of the four pilot activities, illustrates the systemic impact of the project, and presents lessons distilled from the combined experience of KS professionals in six CGIAR centers.

The study used semi-structured, open-ended telephone interviews to gather feedback from 14 CGIAR staff and consultants who were involved in the first phase of the KS project or undertook similar initiatives at the same time. This anecdotal feedback was then categorized, allowing for a meaningful analysis of the benefits of the KS project and the challenges it faces.

The study issues three major recommendations:

1. Common front for change initiatives
The various initiatives promoting innovation, learning, KS, and change in the CGIAR should develop a common advocacy strategy enabling them to insert key messages into organizational development processes. The aim of this strategy should be to generate commitment at the top end of the hierarchy to those interlinked issues in order to increase impact.

2. Show benefits better, specifically for senior scientists
The challenge for the KS community is to lower the threshold of KS for first-time users and to change the perception of KS as time-consuming. Furthermore, senior scientists are a powerful constituency with the potential to obstruct new KS initiatives. They often have little to gain from KS and other participatory techniques because they already have a voice and a network. To increase senior scientist buy-in and therefore impact the impact of KS, the KS community needs to make more obvious to senior scientists the benefits of the initial investment.

3. Work on definition
The KS community should invest time to define the fundamental concepts of knowledge sharing so as to create a specific body of knowledge on KS and establish it as a separate discipline.

10 Key Lessons summarize the project learnings that have been reinforced and worked upon since then in project phase 2.

  1. When introducing KS, start with a small project and with people willing to experiment. Getting early wins and finding the right people in the right context is important.
  2. A successful intervention needs funds as well as explicitly mandated staff with the right skills and enough time to do the work.
  3. Without a specific focus, a KS initiative will grow beyond what is feasible to manage. Setting the initiative’s scope is important.
  4. KS enables us to pay attention to how we interact with each other and creates spaces where people can be heard.
  5. Formulating strategies using KS principles, tools, and methods allows staff to engage in the process and gives them a sense ownership of the results. This in turn ensures continuity in institutional cultures and facilitates the management of change.
  6. To successfully communicate KS principles and methods to scientists, practitioners need to show how KS can contribute to their research organization’s objectives.
  7. KS works best when applied simultaneously at the grass roots and the leadership level. Senior management buy-in is critically important for integrating KS principles, methods and tools into meetings.
  8. KS tools are not enough. To be successful, the KS Project needs champions to advocate for it and continue the work.
  9. It is important to build institutional capacity in KS principles and methods. In-house expertise will increase effectiveness of meetings and lead to mainstreaming KS within the institution.
  10. KS works best when it is integrated into the organization’s overall business plan, alongside communications and other activities, not as a separate department.

Download the full report

In December 2008 the CGIAR decided to change its governance structure and way of doing business to better serve a world that is changing fast in financial, social, climatic and environmental terms. Four months into the implementation phase, is the CGIAR change process on track? Building momentum? Gaining traction?

The second second edition of Embracing Change gets to the heart of the matter with an interview with the Transition Management Team (TMT).

Also….In March, communications experts from CGIAR Centers gathered in Penang for a Strategic Communications Workshop to strengthen collaborative communications across the CGIAR. Change communications was on the agenda, and the event coincided with the TMT meeting and provided an opportunity for engagement between the two groups. Read the article on our blog to get a taste of the lively exchange.

As you know, we have been trying to promote social reporting and live blogging, the on-line summary of conferences we attend or organize as a way of present a synopsis of each presentation, talk-by-talk, in nearly real time, so that you can feel included in the event even if you cannot travel to it.

At its best, reading the liveblog can be better than attending the talk. All the non-essential bla bla has been removed, and almost every talk captured. While video recordings of conferences are becoming more popular, a good liveblog is much quicker to scan and digest. We want to offer more and more liveblogging, so here we are pointing you to a great resource co-authored by Ethan Zuckerman, of Geek Corp, one of the best conference bloggers alive.

Ethan was the keynote speaker in the Web2fordev conference we organized two years ago in Rome.

We have more than 40 blog posts that our reporters from the ShareFair prepared for you. Hope you find them interesting. Let us know what you think!

Hope you will find these tips useful and they will inspire to join the CGIAR livebloggers movement:
Tips for conference bloggers

Thanks Jenin for pointing us to this resource!

This is a post following up on the Knowledge Management, Education and Learning Workshop held in Maputo 4 and 5 December 2008. I did the ‘Social Reporting’ at this workshop, with help of many of you. You can read the resulting Social Report by selecting the tag KELMaputo.)

The following is a reflection on the practice of ‘Social Reporting’; what is different about it?, why is it important? It was originally written for (and published at) my own blog. This explains the more personal notes here and there, for which i apologize. I considered the ‘broader view’ beyond the workshop in Maputo important, that is why I decided to crosspost the entire post.

I recently did three social reporting jobs at face-to-face events (first links are to the official main websites of the events, last to the resulting social reports):

1. Anim@te in Lisbon. 1 day, about 100 participants in plenary. I worked with Beverly Trayner and a team consisting of participants, most of them not very familiair with social media; result (in Portuguese).
2. The KM and learning and education workshop by CGIAR and GFAR in Maputo. 1,5 day, about 40 participants in mixed settings. I worked by myself; result here.
3. “Powering a new future”, the final event after 8 years of Equal (which was the European program for social innovation) in Lisbon. 3 days, >500 participants. I assisted Beverly Trayner and David Wilcox. Result here.

In each of these cases, we used a WordPress blog as a home for publishing all media: video (YouTube, Blip.tv), photo (Flickr), text, Twitter. We worked in close cooperation with the event organisors. We had the first content up within hours after the start of the event, and a finished end product within hours after the end.

The three events each gave a different perspective on the new practice of social reporting.

Animate showed how well Social Reporting can work as a crash course in Web2.0 tools and collaborative, social way of working. When you actually SEE how photos originating from different Flickr accounts via tags and rss are instantly shown on a blog, you GET it. When the issues you were vigorously defending over coffee break at an event are videod and blogged, and you get reactions…. you no longer question the relevance of “all those trivial blogposts about nonsense”. When the colleague who could not attend gives you intelligent feedback the next day because he has been following the twitter stream or blog…. you feel the potential. Learning to master the tools is easy, once you understand what web2.0 can be used for. Another great effect was the community engaging and community building happening in our small team.

The workshop in Maputo, Mozambique was with less people and the focus was more on the content itself. I did a mix of note-taking, videos, impressions. I think the result (see the Outline of the Social Report Simone Staiger compiled, or all posts here) may be quite useful for participants, organisors and others. Compared to a formal report this is rich, easy & entertaining to look at and read, compiled by a mixture of authors/contributors, quickly available after (during) the workshop, and open for comments. It is therefor more of a start, where a formal report always has something defenite and seems like a closing.

The Equal event was huge, with 3 large auditoria and many parallel sessions in smaller spaces. It was great to work in a team of three, each of us all-rounders. I think we helped to give an informal account of the event, highlighting interesting work and people, weaving media, languages and voices. We have extensively reflected on the practice of Social Reporting at the Equal event, which David blogged about here .

Learning, community building, building & extending conversations, documenting and weaving voices… The sum of the three events really convinced me: Yes, this is important. Social Reporting is changing the way we organize events. Also, on a personal note, I much enjoyed the social reporting work! I liked having an excuse to talk to people, asking questions you might otherwise not have asked. I also enjoyed getting their stories out to the world, allowing connections to be made. And yes, -at best- there is more to social reporting than just surprising participants with their photos and video online.

During the last event I assisted Bev Trayner, who brought reporting into social learning, and David Wilcox, who brought social into reporting. Interestingly, something we reported about (Etienne Wenger’s talk on how social learning spaces are important) helped us strengthen our common understanding of social reporting. After digesting for a few days, David blogged on the insights he had, and others (see comments) are taking it from there. The way this conversation is now extended both in time and in people taking part in it, is in itself a demonstration of how social reporting works.

Yes we ARE all networked learners!, and like David, this “theory” helps me understand the attraction of the web and how it all hangs together. It also shows the important roles of the future: Let us continue to create the social learning spaces, keep them open, connect people, and continue to enable access for those of us who -for whatever reason- are new. Weaving online and Real Life in smart ways -such as by Social Reporting- will stretch the possibilities for learning across boundaries.

Of course we are not the only ones “discovering” the genre. Many blogs work in the same way. Dave Briggs seems to work at events in much the same ways. Rober Buzink (freelance journalist) reports in detail (but in Dutch) on the well read journalism blog “De Nieuwe Reporter” about an experiment using real time textmessages (using coveritlive) to cover an event. It is very exciting to think what will happen if on-site and digital get more interwoven, with on-site screens showing the digital conversations, and more people connecting.

Finally, a few alineas from the forthcoming publication on Social Reporting, meant for event organisors, by Beverly Trayner and David Wilcox and sponsored by Equal:

The aim of social reporting is to create an informal narrative to the event, which could complement the formal results or conclusions of that event. The idea of social reporting has been growing in response to two important changes in the organisation of today’s types of events. The first is the explosion of new and free online tools that opens up communication and the publishing of information of different types (such as text, photographs and video recordings) in different ways and to different types of people.

Equally important as the new ways of publishing is the growing recognition that many insights and learning that happens at face-to-face events takes place during informal conversations and not necessarily in the formal presentations or sessions. Social reporting aims to try and stimulate and capture some of these improvisational coversations as a way of bringing more voices to the table and of surfacing some of the stories that help give context to the event.

While mainstream reporting is usually about capturing surprise, conflict, crisis, and entertainment, and in projecting or broadcasting stories to audiences, social reporters aim to work collaboratively with other people, producing words, pictures and movies together. They may challenge and even provoke, but they are sensitive to the resources and parameters of the group, community or organisation they reporting for. They are insiders rather than outsiders. It is about using skills in story-telling to help the conversation along in ways that may help people work better together; treating everyone with respect; and ideally making it all a fun and rewarding experience. It’s more about conversation, collaboration and celebration than conflict, crisis and celebrity (although these should not be overlooked!). It should – like the best journalism – be about promoting some transparency, accountability and openness, but not about thinking that only journalists can do that. It should be sociable, and for social benefit.

I remain thinking of how to broaden Social Reporting beyond events. Reporting on change processes, development, collective action. Reporting about/with social artists… about the changes web2.0 brings to collective action….
Much like David is doing with his entire blog, i guess. Clay Shirky, who wrote a book about web2.0 and collective action, is suggesting to report on what is happening.

So this is one of the things I intend to do in 2009. I will focus on rural areas. What does web2.0 and increasing connectedness mean for rural areas? What are the implications, the new opportunities, new organisational and business models for agriculture and rural areas? What does networked learning mean for agricultural extension, for versatile countrysides?

the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)

the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)

This is a post following up on the Knowledge Management, Education and Learning Workshop held in Maputo 4 and 5 December 2008. (You can read more about this workshop by selecting the tag KELMaputo.)

A few weeks after our workshop in Maputo I have found some time and mental diskspace to finish loose threads. The following is a short summary of the notes of the session we used to hear back from the three groups, also known as ‘the Fishbowl session‘.

Notes of the Fishbowl session Maputo workshop, 5 December

In the group on learning with communities the ‘model’ for the new -or not really that new?- reality for agricultural knowledge or information was discussed. The networked model is becoming more eminent in an increasingly connected world, like in Steve Songs presentation. What is the role of research in the new networked reality? How does it link to the changes within CGIAR?

Several implications were touched. Not seeing CG as central, but the whole as a network of equals, is one of the ‘new’ perspectives. How to keep track of interventions and of their success?

The following emerged from the discussions as good things to be doing:

  • Allowing the use of process indicators instead of only focussing on result or product indicators. The idea is: if the process is right, there is probably somewhere, sometime, a result. Much easier to ‘measure’ the quality of the process than insisting on always measuring the result. (Plus you avoid the problem of attribution. (The question: is the result measured thanks to the process).
  • Instead of zooming in to the problems, use asset based thinking. Collecting success stories within and around CGIAR is important; there are many and they set good examples.
  • Partnerships are considered crucial. What are ways to build equal partnerships?

Universities in Africa, as discussed by a group on formal education, are very diverse, in all possible aspects. They need support to enter the 21century, how can we support them? They, too, are part of the networked model: how can they deal with it?

Except for the changes to adapt to shifting times, curricular changes (or renewal of curricula) are needed. What opportunities do the new connections, the social web,  offer here? Can we think of e-curricula? Also: how do we increase the capacity on Knowledge Management itself, is that by doing it or additionally by offering KM curriculum?

And finally for the group focussing on Knowledge Management. Within CGIAR, How to really embed KM?
Parallels between institutes, departments and key programs were explored.
A broad range of topics was touched in these discussions, networking occurred and several personal commitments were made.

Personal reflection
I think the workshop showed how it all hangs together: the networked model for Agricultural Knowledge, in which farmer communities, the value chains, Research, formal education and joint learning all have their place. The workshop clearly showed how this picture is changing; becoming more “networked” with the increasing connections and digital tracks we are all leaving.

Ajit Maru, co-initiator of the workshop, explains what to him is the core of the change in a comment on this blog:

Ajit Maru Says:
December 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

The core issue in Steve’s presentation was about “conversation” in a community.

To me, it is not only conversation that is important but “continuous conversation” within a community that is even more important. We can have a conversation in a community but when it is continued over time instead of it being one-off it enables blossoming of different perspectives on an issue that leads to a far more deeper understanding of the issue. (his comment is much longer, read on here..)

This, together with the changes upcoming in CGIAR, gave us a context in which there was LOTS to jointly explore: how to be effective, how to link, how to deal with partners inside and outside CGIAR, how to keep track, how to share our successes and failures? Who to liaise with, what are possible alliances? And, maybe most of all: Where am I in the new picture, where are you? What do the changes, both wider societal and within CGIAR, mean to me? How is my institute, my department, my group of colleagues reacting to the changes? and how is yours?

The maps are changing. Explorations on a continuously changing map are not easy. Some of us may feel we achieved little, as there is little concrete result. But still it feels like we worked hard: at getting to grips with new challenges ahead, brainstorming on what to do about them, networking for possible alliances. I for me have decided to do as suggested, and to focus on process and not immediately on result…. maybe it is early to set our marks. To me, the workshop seemed like a beginning: where to put our marks next? What are some common principles for the future? How and with whom can we join our forces for the future? I trust this blog will be one of the meeting places where we can follow the ongoings of this process. What will the 2009 episodes bring?

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