I was very happy to attend the Share Fair session where the FAO Official Representatives Web site was presented. Not that I have much to do with its content. But the person who designed and developed the site, Maria Grazia Bovo, was one of our alumni in the first KS workshop. When we started the workshop this web site didn’t exist and Maria Grazia designed the site as the workshop unfolded.

It was fabulous to see it up and running now and I really liked the site:

  • It has a sober FAO design adapted to its user group
  • It has blog lines that are daily updated
  • It also allows non official representatives who work at FAO to access lots of information through the Intranet
  • It has a Google calendar with all FAO events and it allows to follow webcasts and offers podcasts through a clever mash up with other parts of FAOs Intranet.
  • In addition it is now the only way to access important information that was beforehand distributed via fax o paper copies, a good way to get users on board and increase consultations.

Bravo Maria!

These are reflections from Agnes and Marco about Open Space Technology which was used during the face-to-face phase of the 2nd FAO KS Workshop.

Interview with Agnes
Agnes’ first words were: lots of new Ideas! And the interview could have stopped there. But there’s more. She came to the workshop with specific needs so throughout the process she always kept her ears and eyes wide open to pick up every little detail.
Open Space was engaging, constructive and a good learning experience.  How? The idea of people with specific needs converging and discussing real issues was great.  Agnes felt fully involved and was glad to hear experiences from a diverse group of people.  In particular, she found the session on Intranets very remarkable since it gave her hints for concrete application in her work space.
Besides the content discussed, Agnes particularly enjoyed the process of Open Space (and other methods) because it gave her the opportunity to interact with other participants. The social aspect of the process helped to share and take in from the whole experience.

Interview with Marco
Marco’s idea of attending the workshop was to explore tools and methods used in knowledge sharing. Open Space among other methods experimented, was an experience he found good for motivating participation.  This was particularly with the concept of having participants develop their own agenda. He was skeptical about this at first, but later appreciated the freedom and democracy the approach gave to the participants.
Marco’s observation about the sessions was that there was a mix between specific and more general topics. He points out that much as the process was quite engaging; especially in delicious and community radio sessions, content was not fully analyzed in others. He admits that generally, he benefited not only in understanding content but also application of the processes.
He appreciates the fact that his quest has been met given that the exposure he has received will help him find possible applications in his work.

Other participants have also added their feedback:

All other posts regarding the workshop are at: https://ictkm.wordpress.com/tag/ksworkshop2/

Have a look at Nancy White’s post on the KS Workshop. Her reflections will be followed soon here by a summary of the participant’s feedback.

Nancy White and workshop participants

Nancy White and workshop participants

Based on a former post on a framwework for institutional knowledge sharing, the project has now published a Web page with the revised framework and the achievements of the project in the different areas of intervention:

We can use knowledge sharing (KS) principles, methods, and tools to support our organization’s development. They can help us build internal capacity so that we can work, in even more effective ways, towards our mission and to sustain ourselves over the long term. That is:

  • KS can help us recognize and deal with today’s complexities, while strengthening our skills and attitudes. It also supports organizational learning and evaluation processes. 
  • By incorporating KS tools and methods into its strategic planning and change processes, our management can promote involvement, buy-in, and follow-up action of both staff and stakeholders. 
  • Systematic KS can make organizational day-to-day business more effective, visible, and transparent. 

The Institutional KS Project supports activities for three strategic areas, and looks at the potential impact of KS for organizational development from both a transformational and practical perspective.

We use the following action framework to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate our KS interventions in those three areas. The text below also highlights our Project’s achievements.

KS Framework

KS Framework

1. Capacity building, M&E, and Learning: Dealing with complexity to empower staff

KS Workshop

  • Workshop concept and design developed, and two workshops held.
  • Reached 13 CGIAR centers and 7 partner organizations, involving 80 participants.
  • FAO took the lead for the second workshop.
  • Seven participants are co-authoring an article on challenges and experiences in their areas of work at the time of the Workshop.
  • A pool of facilitators and mentors is being built—two workshops had eight facilitators and/or mentors, with four being former participants.
  • Read more

Evaluation study

  • KS activities for Phase I (2004–2006) evaluated in 6 centers and the CGIAR Secretariat.
  • Criteria and indicators for an M&E framework developed.
  • Preliminary Findings :
  • KS approaches are crucial if we aim to build our work upon the collective knowledge of our staff and research partners
  • When introducing KS, it is best to start small
  • KS enables us to pay attention to the process of our interactions and create spaces for people to be heard, and unintentionally suppressed talent is freed up.
  • KS assures continuity in institutional cultures while facilitating change processes.
  • KS works best when applied simultaneously at the grassroots and the leadership level
  • Building capacity in KS pays off
  • Read more

Involvement with the KM4Dev community

  • Visibility of CGIAR raised among practitioners of knowledge management (Km) for development 
  • KM4Dev journal on “KM in Latin America and the Caribbean” guest-edited.
  • Sponsorship of two CGIAR staff participating in the annual KM4Dev meeting.
  • Participation in the community core group.
  • Pool of co-workers and consultants created.
  • Visit KM4Dev

2. Strategies and change management: Promoting involvement in organizational change processes

CGIAR change process and stakeholder engagement

  • Support within the organization for strategic meetings (AGM 06, 07, and 08), applying KS principles.
  • Advised on and facilitated consultation processes with stakeholders, whether through virtual (e.g., blogs) or actual means (e.g., face-to-face meetings).
  • Contribute and facilitate engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs).

CIFOR pilot project

  • Promoted participation of staff and Board in CIFOR’s strategic planning.
  • KS approaches used to increase participation, and identify and address common issues and concerns.
  • Framework included to monitor and evaluate the implementation of strategies.
  • Read more

3. Problem solving and best practices: Making organizational processes more interactive, visible, and transparent

Pilot projects

KS Toolkit

  • This resource, in wiki format, targets professionals working in international development. It has been expanded and improved. A user community has been created and membership promoted, particularly through active linkages with the KS Workshop. So far, the Toolkit wiki contains 70 tools and methods for sharing knowledge, receives more than 10,000 visits per month, and has 68 registered members.
  • It also contains descriptions, experiences, how-to guides, and relevant links for Web-based applications and face-to-face group processes. It features a “context” page where users can search for appropriate tools and methods by either defining the nature and needs of their work or using keywords (tags).
  • FAO has become an offical partner for the Toolkit.
  • Visit the Toolkit

KS Project’s website

  • Continuously updated through the incorporation of Web 2.0 tools.
  • The Toolkit wiki is the main resource featuring on the website.
  • A photo gallery, housed in Flickr, contains more than 1200 images (including photos and illustrations). As of October 2008, it records an average of 120 viewers daily.
  • The KS blog receives more than 1000 visits per month.
  • More than 160 important resources are bookmarked, tagged, and dynamically shared on the home page.
  • Users can also subscribe to website updates via RSS feeds.

Eight participants, and two facilitators of the first KS Workshop are joining efforts to write a joint article about their multiple perspectives around knowledge sharing in the context of our workshop experience. I am talking about Alessandra Galié (ICARDA), Ben Hack (consultant), Alexandra Jorge (ILRI / Bioversity), Florencia Tateossian (CGIAR Secretariat), Andrea Pape-Christiansen (ICARDA), Vanessa Meadu (World Agroforestry Centre), Michael Riggs (FAO), Gauri Salokhe (FAO), Nancy White (consultant) and myself.

What are we trying to do?
We want to share and document a snapshot of our professional lives, at the moment when the KS workshop took place. Clearly, our backgrounds, current responsibilities, and applications of tools and methods learned in the KS workshop are diverse and we hope that we can provide readers with multiple perspectives on, and examples of, the contributions of “modern” KS approaches to our development work. Overall we will look at the value or significance of KS approaches (and the KS workshop itself) to us as international development professionals?

How are we getting this done?
In order to get such a joint article done, we benefit from the help of Gerry Toomey, a science writer who will coordinate our efforts and edit the different pieces as a whole. Gerry had short interviews with each of us and just sent us some guidelines so we can work on our individual contributions. For this enterprise we use a wiki set up as a private space. Each of us has a personal page where we can compose or paste in our texts. While we will not be editing anyone else’s text, we are all encouraged to leave comments, questions, suggestions, or words of encouragement on each other’s pages. Gerry will then work with each of us individually on our drafts.

We are all looking forward to it and hope to come back to you soon with a useful piece. Happy writing to all!