goals2The workshop started with the basic question: What are our communication goals? Incredibly basic, but it triggered a more then 80 post thread! I played around with participant’s answers and offer the following list with some examples of what has been said.

What do you think about those goals?

1. Create a two-way communication

  • Moving towards the model of ‘conversations’ with our networks of contacts.
  • Connect people to ideas and information across my network.
  • Tapping into my online network as a way to think together, do tasks together and solve problems – communications for collaboration.
  • Connect people and show that YES, there IS a way to break silos among disciplines, between projects and Centers.
  • Strengthening of lateral connections in a network
  • Make communications more innovative and engaging by mastering new tools
  • How we can engage in a more continuous and participatory communication process with our target groups?
  • Take actually the time to LISTEN. What are our next and end users saying about us, about their needs, issues and achievements?

2. Overcome the internal and external limiting factors

  • Target audience not online; Target audience not familiar with and comfortable with (trust) social media; Organization not supportive of our use of new tools
  • Limited bandwidth, so Skype, video streaming, etc. are out of bounds unless we make special arrangements
  • The intersection of technology and communications.
  • Exploring how to help these people overcome that fear of loosing control and make use of social media tools to enhance both our institutional and personal communications.
  • How to introduce/persuade others to try social media!
  • Finding ways to communicate via web2.0 and use social media in challenging conditions such as Ethiopia.

3. Disseminate outputs

  • Significantly build up the number of people the CGIAR is reaching.
  • Active, rapid and widespread dissemination of our research outputs.
  • Make the community of donors, policymakers and investors fully aware of the high impact our scientific accomplishments through a program of public awareness activities.

4. Understand audiences and needs

  • Clear understanding of the information needs of our primary audiences
  • Audiences: Research scientist, Research partners, Policymakers , CIP’s external community and associates, Donors and investors, The CGIAR Consortium, The media and the general public, students.
  • Learn more about what the communication needs are across the system to get a better idea of how we can support each other and work together to meet our goals.

3. Raise profile and resource mobilization

  • Rebuild image after financial and governance crisis
  • Public – Increase the perception of our center as a global center of excellence
  • Ensure efficient communication in the context of major organizational change
  • Corporate communications: How do we build the profile globally for better partnerships and fundraising?
  • To enhance the awareness, understanding and appreciation our work by partners, stakeholders and staff members

4. Strengthen the role of communications within the research cycle

  • How to integrate communication tool, web2.0, and social media methods into the research process
  • Assist Centre scientists to proactively think about effectively communicating their research outputs to achieve better outcomes and impacts
  • Help integrate communications into the planning, budgeting and implementation of research projects
  • How to use such tools to enhance our work with partners and stakeholders.

7. Learn and innovate

  • Explore what has worked best, and how can we make it happen more often.
  • Identify the common elements and propose a comprehensive set of objectives to the Transition Management Team for the new CGIAR
  • Bring my own communications practices in line with such approaches through networking and the acquisition of new tools and skills.
  • Take the opportunity to explore the power of social media as a personal networking tool.

8. Improve internal processes

  • Management – Increase recognition of the essential contributions form communication and information professionals
  • How to engage with the technical programs/the scientists on communications issues
  • Create a culture of sharing and transparency within the CGIAR so information flows freely and there’s a “meritocracy” for information/knowledge.
  • Understand CGIAR’s institutional culture, which provide important background for this workshop on social media.
  • Promoting these new approaches in the CGIAR
  • Organize internal resources / data better
  • Internal Communications Strategy: What Culture are we going to build and how is information being shared and communicated?

Photo Credit: Faria

or too sexy? it is after lunch…we split up in three groups…. we are in the group that is looking at “Knowledge management: How”.  The issue came that when when you talk about KM people roll up their eyes….but if you make it “too sexy”  then maybe lip service is paid and nothing really serious is done.  For example….people may think it is trendy to start using world cafes instead of power point presentations…but are we really ready to listen to what people have to say?

Steve Song talked about the “shock doctrine”….was 9/11 a good excuse to roll out policies that otherwise would not have been accepted? So is the change management our shock doctrine? Well… we look at the opportunities that the CGIAR reform offers to put the “Knowledge Management as a way to “do business better” on the table.

We all seem to agree…KM is everywhere…. and that talking about KM only makes sense if it is linked to a business objective, just like a communication strategy ..it should not not stand on its on….

But what is Knowledge Management? Steve Song: “naming it is marginalising”…. KM is just another way of saying doing business effectively. I like this approach…who wants to spend the rest of the day navel gazing…. trying to define knowledge management…enough of that.. we choose to do business instead..

Nadia suggests we look at problems, the hindrances, the constraints that exist and how we can contribute to their solution….look around for good examples and build on them

So…examples of hindrances?
Inherent isolation….
Inherent competition
Go beyond centers partners
a good start…
Michael proposes to look at the impetus of the change process to promote good practices.

Edith: “change should be modeled from the top…senior management has a responsibility to support the culture of sharing”….and Nadia adds that sharing goes beyond the boundaries of the centers, it affects our relationship with our partners. So I guess change is the responsibility of all of us! So we decide to look at how we can model change, how we can start change from our individual actions

Simone: IT, communication, capacity building…. all departments need to move the same direction, and she adds it is all about how do we empower staff? Look at the principles and then empower the staff to be engaged.

Then we talk about approach…. what is the most effective way to change the culture towards a more sharing, empowering culture? Are we going to try and force change at the top or create a grass root movement? Both approaches have their merits…

Then we talked about complex adaptive systems and birthday parties…. an update and a video on that later…

As part of my work as Marketing Officer (Quality Improvement) at FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, I am involved in sharing knowledge and information about new marketing best practices with my colleagues in the regional office’s informal and multidisciplinary Commercialization and Agri-Business Interest Group (CABIG).
As a coordinator of CABIG – pronounced “cabbage” – I decided to attend the Second FAO/ICT-KM Knowledge Sharing Workshop to learn about innovative knowledge sharing methods that will enable me to make the most of group discussions in my workplace. I also hoped to discover new web-based tools that can help a community of practice, the members of which do not necessarily have the time nor financial means to meet face-to-face, to collaborate remotely.
The workshop helped me to explore knowledge-sharing challenges and opportunities, and how to make the most of face-to-face collaboration. We also discussed alternatives to email and tools for virtual collaboration. This was extremely useful as most of my work in a decentralized office of FAO also makes me interact frequently with my Headquarters colleagues and supervisors in Rome by email. The workshop also allowed me to learn tips in order to become a better facilitator of meetings and group discussions, which will also help me in my work.
To sum it up in just three words, I have realized that knowledge sharing is collaborative, flexible, and, very importantly, fun.

The face-to-face part of the KS workshop has come to a successful end. During the meeting, we tried out many different KS Tools and Methods. After each “experiment”, we debriefed the content (as it related to real issue we are working on), process and possible applications. In addition to the posts that Simone has already mentioned on a previous posting, I have now added the following:
Day 3

Day 2

I am still catching up; I hope to add the final few in the next few days. Meantime, you can also take a look at our photo gallery and updates on the KS Toolkit Wiki.


by N. White / ks workshop
by N. White / ks workshop

Gauri summarizes not only nicely the sessions but gives also an insight on how participants felt about the different group dynamics that have been used.

The tools and methods discussions are still ongoing on our workshop moodle platform. Here is a summary of some of the tools discussions that participants and facilitators initiated:

Peer Assist

Tags / Tagging

Michael gives a really nice introduction to the topic:

  • A tag is a keyword or term that is given to a bit of information (a bookmark, an image, a blog entry, etc.) in order to help find it later and also to associate it with other, similar or related bits of information.
  • Many of the web2.0 tools we are discussing in our workshop make use of tags. Indeed it is because of these tools that tagging has become popular and widely used.
  • Tags are chosen by the individual at the time they are put into use. They are more flexible than the formal metadata and can sometimes be used as leading indicators of new concepts. However, they can also be somewhat inconsistent and lack the relationship specification of defined taxonomies.
  • When many users have tagged many items within an application or around a set of items, this collection of tags becomes what is called a folksonomy (i.e. an informal taxonomy generated by the people or “by the folks”).
  • Explanatory video in relation to Social Bookmarking at: http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=x66lV7GOcNU&feature=user by Common Craft 

Social Reporting

  • Social Reporting is the practice of capturing and sharing the learning that happen at F2F events online for the group and possibly others not at the F2F. Nancy launched this topic as a way to suggest some practice in this area during the f2f meeting in Rome.
  • Here are some tools used for social reporting: wikis to take life notes from sessions and document them; online photo galleries like Flickr to upload each day visuals of the event; Live blogging to capture impressions or results of a session; video interviews to give a voice to participants and tell their own story and perspectives on the event, a topic or a session. 
  • Resources: http://partnerships.typepad.com/civic/2006/10/social_media_so.html; http://socialreporter.com/ ; http://www.eudaimonia.pt/btsite/content/view/115/32/

Discussion Groups

  • Jo launched this thread with the question: Can anybody share stories about success and frustration on different discussion group interfaces? Which interface and provider to choose from for best result for all participants having and “equal position” in the group and possibility to manage email to customize involvement?
  • Jo took the lead to explore some of the suggested options: Yahoo groups, Google groups, Dgroups, Ning, Drupal. And it seems he really liked our Ning community that we set up in order to allow us exploration and perhaps the creation of a longer lasting bond between various workshop editions. http://ksworkshop.ning.com/
  • Some of Jo’s findings: The interface is centered on the members; its a free public discussion group interface, and we get topic-related advertisements in the right-hand column of the site through Google ads; Ning group members can customize their own page to make it look different from the rest; When you ask to become “friends” with another member, you get faster access to their personal pages and blogs
  • Cristina mentioned her experience with Dgroups and her move to a restricted blog on her new Drupal site, because of the complaints by her team and stakholders about the Dgroup email overload. Her challenge now: “stimulating people to visit the website and comment on the issues raised.”

Blogs and Blogging

I started a discussion on blogs:

  • Nancy points to examples of blogs in development work with her delicious tag, devblogs
  • Different uses of blogs. Chronological ordered and News based website for project reporting and communication (important to use tags to distinguish different aspects of the project or authors)
  • When do blogs work well. Nancy shared a post from Pete Cranston to the KM4Dev community: be personal, less obviously institutional, update regularly, acknolwedeg that spending time on communicating your perspectives is valuable,  have a group of bloggers for organizational blogs, be open, don’t control. “Blogs work when they are constructed and maintained so that they become part of the blogosphere, get linked to – and link to others – and generally have access to audience.  Blogs designed for a bounded audience have a much harder time.” Blogs are also a welcome alternative to progress or back-to-office reports, or for specialist groupings that focus around meetings, or issues.
  • Blogs versus discussion groups: Blogs are not tools for team communication. They can’t really replace email.

A wiki is a web site that allows users to add, remove, and otherwise edit and change content. At its core, a wiki is a simple online database in which each page is easily edited by any user with a Web browser

  • Wikis are really rather flexible … not just as a shared document writing/editing tool, but they can be used as an entire website platform (with pages open for editing or not), as a growing knowledge base, like Wikipedia and the KS Toolkit, or even as a simple intranet. There are commercial wiki packages now that are pitched that way.
  • Obstacles to broad wiki use: All members can overwrite; no track changes directly visible. Publishing of “unfinished material” => cultural shift. Needs accountability, rewarding and facilitation.
  • Kay compares a wiki with her actual sharpoint application and finds it friendlier, easier, quicker
  • Public / private: When do I need to make that choice? Options: open to all for viewing and editing (be aware of spam problems if you use this option); open for all to view but membership request for editing (ex: our KS Toolkit); membership request for viewing and editing (if you need a confidential space for groupwork, i.e. before publishing)
  • Nancy shares some lessons learnt while doing wiki training session: Use any training opportunity to also build relationships; make sure there is hands on practice/use – don’t just talk about it; create a short “how to” document to send in advance with screen shots  – but keep it simple; don’t over describe all the features the first time.


  • Should we use a platform “one package solution” or should we integrate bits and pieces?
  • Pete thinks that “there is no all-in-one package out there and even if such a platform existed to meet our staff needs today, this certainly is no guarantee that it will meet all of our needs tomorrow.” I think this is an important lesson for working with Open Source software as well as within the context of Web 2.0. At the end of the day, it’s all about interoperability and integration of services. If you have a system that can produce RSS and uses tags, then that content can be easily shared on other pages within your intranet. “Sharability” is a key feature.
  • There is a group of intranet curios participants of this thread who meets a group of skeptical ones: No one really has an example of a successful intranet site; I am asking; How much information is there really besides financial and project management information that need to be closed and internally only? Or: “I’m also cynical enough to believe that some prefer to keep information on the intranet because there it is not likely to be questioned or challenged by “outsiders”.

Other KS methods and tools that have been suggested / discussed:
• Online collaboration
• Language translation technologies
• Participatory Impact Pathways
• River of Life % samoan Circle
• PhWeet
• Icebreakers
• Twitter. Many set up an account and we are nor following each other 😉
• Joomla- a CMS tool for Websites

The last week of the online phase of the KS Workshop offered an opportunity to continue discussions about KS tools and methods. We also started reflections about the workshop experience, invited participants to take an evaluation survey, and offered an additional conference call with our guest Sophie Alvarez on Participatory Pathways Approaches (PIPA).

In the weekly conference calls we reviewed the network mapping exercise, and asked for participant’s interest in specific tools and methods to explore further in the Rome face-to-face meeting next week. Here is a summary of one of the call sessions: Many found the network maps really useful: “it is good to have it as a visual.” “It was the best workshop lesson because it showed the weaknesses and what I can do better to involve others” “It was good but now I have difficulties to relate the map with the tools” “It was great to do it with my colleagues” are some of the reactions. We also learnt an interesting unexpected use of the map: As an induction to a newcomer in the project team, or as a way to explain an organization, a project or a team during a recruitment process.  For the upcoming workshop in Rome, many tools are on the list of desired hands on sessions and explorations: wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, tagging, Content Management Systems, but also communities of practice, World Cafés and After Action Reviews. Among the facilitators we decided to organize a 1 ½ day Open Space session to allow detailed exploration of all those topics in small groups. 

A Conference call on Participatory Impact Pathway Approaches (PIPA)
The call was joined by 6 curious workshop participants and our special guest was Sophie Alvarez who works with the PIPA team out of CIAT, Cali, Colombia. Without getting into the details of the PIPA methodology (see ILAC brief for that), what I most highlighted for myself was that PIPA tries to bring to the surface the mental models, the perspectives of the stakeholders about how their project might achieve impact. PIPA combines elements of classic project planning with social network analysis and appreciative inquiry.

First reflections on online phase of the workshop
Here are some of the very first and fresh reactions as the online phase is ending:I have appreciated the first four weeks of the Workshop. Alternately, I have felt overwhelmed and enthusiastic.

  • I thought that the resource library (imark lessons, screencasts and podcasts) was very useful and I liked that I could go back to things at my own pace.
  • The support facilitators was really a positive aspect .
  • I loved it.
  • A few little disappointments: 1) Skype connection from work was horrible.  2) Skype teleconferencing was just not my thing. I had nothing to look at so my attention drifted. 3) I found the KS toolkit didn’t go into enough detail.
  • The interactions with all of you were great and enriching. I had lots of fun trying out some of the tools and blogging on my learning log.
  • This is a great community that has been emerging.
  • I am hoping that while the Phase 1 workshop officially ends this week, we can still use the F2F and online to move to that more strategic bit. To take all the good work of the maps and thinking about purpose and people and map those tools and processes in a holistic way

More to come soon about the participant’s evaluation of this event.