In the Most Significant Change story approach it is usual for the participants as a whole to listen to the stories and make a selection of that story or those stories which they consider to be most significant for the group or the program.

In the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research Synthesis workshop, the review and selection of stories was done in a different way. Instead of the participants judging the stories themselves as a group, two people, somewhat outside of the direct KSinR project, were asked to listen to the stories and make comments and selections. These were:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-164

  • Meredith Giordano (IWMI)-Senior Researcher involved in Impact work at IWMI and supervising the Project Leader of KSinR
  • Debbie Bossio (IWMI)- Senior Researcher and Theme Leader of Productive Water Use Theme–not involved in the KSinR Project at all

And instead of them making their comments and selection just between the two of them (in private), the workshop used a fishbowl technique which involved Meredith and Debbie sitting in the middle of a circle made up up of all the other participants of the workshop.

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Meredith and Debbie then commented on all the stories, indicating things they liked about stories, important points, key elements of packaging stories and their thoughts on the importance of particular changes indicated. They also talked about how well these could be ‘sold’ to their research Centres and projects. Everyone was asked to listen to them without interrupting first–and only after they finished their ‘internal’ discussion was it opened up to the wider group.

Some key points made in the fishbowl were:

  • Need to focus on ONE significant change–not tell everything about the project
  • To show significant change would be good to indicate what was done before/how things were done before–so that a difference can be seen–as Alessandra did in her story
  • Give evidence of or demonstrate with an example the change you are talking about–like in Phillip’s story
  • Interesting to indicate change in one’s own knowledge, skills, experience as the most significant change–this is very real and important–as shown in Natasja’s story
  • Ben’s story showed the importance of finding common interest
  • Liked how some stories showed the implications and consequences–what would happen next as a result
  • Use of numbers is appealing for scientists–Tonya’s story gave some numbers of farmers and percentage of adoption which made the change seem more concrete
  • Debbie pointed out that she couldn’t take anything in particular that she heard to the donors–need to consider target groups when developing stories
  • Should indicate what the impact has been or could be due to the change–Alexandra indicated this in her story
  • Need to feel free to tell ‘negative’ stories as alot cna be learned from these as well
  • Should consider the language we use in our stories
  • …and much more!
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In the Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) project, the 6 Pilot Projects have beksinr-synthesis-workshop-014en piloting a range of knowledge sharing approaches in particular research projects, programs or domains. Their experiences have proven to be as diverse and interesting as their initially proposed approaches. Many of the Pilots have carried out a wide range of activities and experienced many things in using knowledge sharing in research.

In the previous exercises of the KSinR Synthesis Workshop the participants had been asked to describe and evaluate the whole host of activities, outputs and outcomes of their Projects.

In this session the Pilot projects were asked to present the most significant change thksinr-synthesis-workshop-165at they think has/had happened in using knowledge sharing in their research projects or domains. This was to be done through the use of the ‘Most Significant Change story approach’. Participants had been informed of this prior to arriving at the workshop and an explanation had been given on Day 1 to allow them to prepare their stories.

The question asked was:

” Looking back over time of implementing knowledge sharing philosophies and approaches in your research project, what do you think was the most significant change in the research project?”

On Day 2 the workshop moved out into the ILRI Campus gardens to present and listen to stories of most significant change from using knowledge sharing approaches in research.

The ‘most significant change’ stories consisted of:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-148

  1. From the IWMI Pilot Project ‘ Learning Alliances for Wastewater Agriculture and Sanitation for Poverty Alleviation (LA WASPA)’ the story presented by Alexandra Evans was about–
  • improved links between hygiene and wastewater use in agriculture
  • all research and actions that took place were known about and understood by all stakeholders involved
  • can work much easier with the various stakeholders after this experience

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-1462. From the IRRI Pilot Project ‘ Knowledge Management harmonising research output” the story presented by Ben Samson was about—

  • the initial workshop bringing together stakeholders brought about increased awareness and change in attitude of the various actors involved
  • the workshop provided a meeting point for people who needed something and those who could meet that need.

3. From the WorldFish Pilot Project ‘ Applying KS tools to Impact Monitoring and Project M&E” the story presented by Natasja Sheriff was about—

  • the way we (usually) do M&E in our projects is not very responsive
  • this Pilot Project provided an opportunity for Natasja to try something new out for her project and created a space for her to increase her own learning which she could then apply to other projects, share with others, and hope to influence how M&E is carried out in her institute

4. From the IWMI Pilot Project ‘ A Knowledge Sharing Approach to Safe Food”

—–a story presented by Tonya Schuetz was about—

  • a key thing that was done through this project focused on knowledge sharing was to increase and improve interactions with user groups
  • we sought feedback from stakeholders at many stages in the research process
  • through talking to potential users of the research results about the results and how messages could be effectively formulated helped the project to develop effective messages which lead to the achievement of early adoption of project recommended practices
  • took advantage of key opportunities such as the revision of the city by-laws and irrigation ksinr-synthesis-workshop-152policy which only happens every ten years
  • important to implement knowledge sharing throughout the research process

—–a story presented by Phillip Amoah was about—

  • we learned that it was necessary to work on a (national) policy level as well in order to support local action messages that we were trying to promote amongst farmers and caterers on the ground
  • it was important to work closely with the relevant ministries–in this case Ministry of Agriculture

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-1585. From the CIFOR Pilot Project ‘Shared Learning to Enhance Research Priority Assessment Practices’ the story presented by David Raitzer was about—

  • ex-ante has not previously had any systematic support
  • this was the first attempt to pull together methods and experiences and to find ways to give them visibility
  • there has been as a result of this work of this Pilot to share knowledge on this subject matter, been more attention to ex-ante and priority setting amongst those doing impact assessment

6. From the ICARDA Pilot Project ‘International Farmers Conference’ the story presented by Alessandra Galie was about—ksinr-synthesis-workshop-166

  • There was empowerment of women farmers through this process. For example Ruqeia a young female farmer was at first nervous to present her story but after she did she was congratulated by many participants of her good agricultural knowledge and skills. She then took the initiative to approach an FAO representative to ask for help on Integrated Pest Management which he had presented on.
  • The knowledge of women farmers was more appreciated and a greater recognition was gained in the institute that more efforts need to be made to include this in the Participatory Plant Breeding Program
  • The implementers became more aware of the fact that knowledge sharing approaches may need to be tailored to work with marginalised groups-thus it is necessary to refine approaches to be appropriate to varying types, uses, needs etc of knowledge by different groups.

For what happened next..stay tuned for the next blog post!

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-011In the Inception workshop for the Knowledge Sharing in Research project, the Project Leader and Pilot projects all used the Impact Pathways approach to look at the actors who were considered necessary in the network around the particular project with whom relationships should be changed, strengthened or made in order to achieve success in the project. Changes in the particular actors were made explicit as well as the particular strategy which would be employed to bring this about.

In the recently held Synthesis workshop fo the project, all Pilot Projects were asked to revisit this concept by filling out an Outcome Logic Model table.

The Outcomes Logic Model asked participants to consider:

  • what actors were involved/influenced in the project
  • what changes occurred in them
  • what strategy was used to bring about such change
  • percentage completed or next steps to continue working on a particular actor’s change

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-108Each participant filled in the table and presented it either as a flip chart, on their computers or by speaking about it.

In the Knowledge Sharing in Research project’s Synthesis Workshop, held 17-19 November 2008 in Addisksinr-synthesis-workshop-040 Ababa, Ethiopia, a ‘River of Life’ exercise was used to facilitate the reviewing of all the KSinR Pilotksinr-synthesis-workshop-033 Projects and KSinR project.

In the River of Life exercise, all participants were asked to visualise their projectsksinr-synthesis-workshop-036 using a river metaphor. Using flip chart sheets stuck together, the projects were asked to draw a ‘river’ depicting the ‘life’ of their project including:ksinr-synthesis-workshop-035

  • activities
  • outputs
  • outcomesksinr-synthesis-workshop-054

This exercise was meant to facilitate the remembering, showing and documenting of allksinr-synthesis-workshop-039 that has happened in the projects, which is often difficult, through drawing rather than listing.

The ‘river’ metaphor also helped people to consider the logical flow along the project, showing the source, where there may have been some turbulence (rapids), certain branches which did not pan out, parallel streams of activities…and more.

While drawing the River of Life by each project, Sophie Alvarez and Boru Douthwaithe provided some suggestions and motivations to the projects in depicting their projects.

Once the drawing were finished these were mounted on the walls and pinboards around the room.ksinr-synthesis-workshop-102

Each Project was then asked to present their ‘River of Life’ to the group, explaining what had happened, what outputs were produced and what outcomes they thought had occurred.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-068

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-066

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-013One of the first exercises at the recently held Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) project’s Synthesis Workshop was to ask the participants what their expectations of the workshop were.

The participants were asked to write these on cards.

The cards were then read out and Nadia Manning-Thomas, Project Leader of the KSinR project was asked to say whether the particular expectation:

* Will be Achieved

* Maybe achieved

* Will NOT be achieved

The cards were then arranged on a pin board under the 3 categories-see photo to the right.

None of the expectations were considered to be not achievable in the workshop.

This board was referred to throughout the workshop to make sure the workshop was on track with meeting the needs and priorities of all involved.

The second call for proposals from DFID’s Research into Use group is strongly linked to the Knowledge Sharing in Research project objectives, activities and knowledge being generated. The call focuses on proposals that look to use novel communication and/or public-private partnerships to move vital research into use.

These two areas are also being explored in the Knowledge Sharing in Research project, especially through the Pilot projects, to identify appropriate, useful and valuable approaches and lessons to help guide CGIAR centres, Program, projects and activities on communicating(sharing) their research results and also engaging in collaborative activities and partnerships better-with the aim of improving impact of research.

Examples of novel communication efforts being explored and learned about in KSinR can be seen in:

  • IWMI Wastewater Pilot project using radio programs, training videos, flip charts, Farmer Field School and Catering School curricula as avenues for getting research results across to various target groups
  • ICARDA’s Pilot Project held a Farmers’ Conference for farmers to share their knowledge and experiences and also facilitated sharing of research and farmer knowledge via stories shared through videos sent on cell phones
  • IRRI’s Pilot Project is compiling research results, technologies and knowledge into carefully formatted ‘packets’ in a Rice Knowledge Bank and training extension agents to access and use these for work with farmers in the Lao northern uplands

An example of public-private partnerships and partnerships more broadly being explored and learned about in KSinR can be seen in:

Extracts from the call can be found below and also at:http://www.research4development.info/news.asp?ArticleID=50248

The second Research Into Use (RIU) call for proposals is for the African Innovation Challenge Fund (African ICF). The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to teams so they can take promising research, funded by DFID, to the next stage of use. The selected initiatives will contribute to RIU’s purpose by delivering significant use of Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) programme research and other natural resources research outputs for the benefit of poor men and women in different contexts.

The focus of this second call will be on Africa and also on two key elements which DFID/Research into Use feel are critical in getting research into use and from which lessons can be drawn for decision makers. These two elements are:

  • novel communication methods
  • public-private partnerships

both of which can stimulate the use of natural resource technologies and processes produced by DFID research activities for the benefit of large numbers of people.

The RIU Innovation Challenge Fund Africa will focus on the following countries in sub Saharan Africa: Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa plus three Francophone countries – Senegal, Mali and Niger.