KSinR Synthesis workshop 221

Journalist interviewing Alessandra Galie from ICARDA on the KSinR Pilot Project she has been working on

During the Synthesis workshop for the Knowledge Sharing in Research Project held in November 2008, a professional journalist participated in the workshop to capture what was going at the workshop, give advice about using media and sharing messages with the public, as well as to conduct interviews with each of the Pilot Project Leaders (or representatives) to give them a chance to have ‘their say’ about:

  • knowledge sharing in research (the concept)
  • Knowledge Sharing in Research (the project)
  • their Pilot Projects
  • what they linked, didn’t like, would do differently
  • what they learned and will take away with them
  • how they think things went
  • how they think this may affect their future research
  • any other thoughts

It was decided to use an independent journalist to allow the Pilot Projects to feel more comfortable to express their thoughts and feelings, rather than speaking to the Project Leader to whom they may feel a certain accountability and need to show things in a positive light. It was also considered useful to have more journalistic pieces to describe the projects, which might appeal to certain people.

So in the next blog posts I will be sharing the ‘interviews’ with the Pilot Projects–so you can see what they had to say themselves…

…Stay tuned!

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.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-169

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!

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-137Day 2 of the Synthesis Workshop (17-19 November 2008) of the Knowledge Sharing in Research project was heavily focused on learning. Building on the previous day of review and reflection, Day 2 was aimed at a much more defined and in-depth evaluation process of the Pilot projects and other KSinR activities towards learning.ksinr-synthesis-workshop-132

The first exercise in the agenda was to look at the projects in terms of what happened, what didn’t, what went well, and what didn’t go well in terms of the changes planned and the strategies (KS approaches) used.

The participants all prepared answers to these questions to be presented back to the group. Time was given after each presentation for questions, comments and discussion.

Other activities held in Day 2 included:

  • Report-back by synthesizers
  • Most Significant Change(MSC) stories presented by each project
  • Fishbowl exercise with two ‘outsiders’ discussing the MSC stories and criteria for selecting ‘best’ ones
  • Matrix exercise to look at the bigger ‘Why’ question and meaning around using KSinR

Further posts will be made on these activities, and results of all Synthesis workshop exercises will be available soon on the KS website.

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.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-0191 The Knowledge Sharing in Research project’s Synthesis Workshop, held 17-19th November 2008 on ILRI Campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was designed to bring together the Pilot Projects (6) and those working on the umbrella project (KSinR) to carry out a number of activities to look back over the project activities to better understand them and to capture lessons.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-020The workshop followed the roadmap seen in the picture to the left over the three days of the workshop to enable the achievement of a number of objectives–listed in photo to the right.

The workshop used a number of key approaches to help facilitate review, discussions, evaluation and documentation including:

  • Participatory Impact Pathway Analysis
  • River of Life exercise
  • Most Significant Change
  • Peer Assist
  • Card sorting exercises
  • Matrix approach

…and how the workshop roadmap intended to achieve the objectives is shown below.

ksinr-synthesis-workshop-022

After more than one year since the Inception workshop for the ICT-KM Knowledge Sharing Project, many of the 6 KSinR Pilot Projects have carried out and completed their activities and piloting periods within the KSinR project. On Monday 17th November 2008 a Synthesis workshop for the Knowledeg Sharing in Research Project will take place. The aim of the workshop is to bring all the Pilot Projects together to discuss their activities and capture lessons from their piloting activities.

The Workshop will take place over three days (17th, 18th, 19th) on ILRI Campus in Addis ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop will include:

  • Review of project activities, outputs and outcomes–using Rive of Life Activity
  • Evaluation of Knowledge Sharing strategies employed in the research project–through using and revisiting the Impact pathways approach
  • Most Significnat Change exercise
  • Discussions on Communication and outreach of Project knowledge and lessons
  • …and more!

We look forward to some fruitful discussions and exercises and being able to share more information derived from the project through this space and others.

Stay tuned…

IWMI’s newsletter ‘Water Figures’ Issue 3 2008 released this month has an article in it on the work of the KSinR Project and its Pilot Projects“Improving the Impact of research through Knowledge Sharing” by Nadia Manning-Thomas.

Garbage trap put in at head of derivation canal going to farmers' fields through Learning Alliance in IWMI WASPA project

The article begins with a look at some of the activities being undertaken by IWMI researchers:

Garbage trap put in at head of derivation canal going to farmers

Alexandra Clemett, Samyuktha Varma and K. Jinapala, from the ‘Wastewater, Agriculture and Sanitation for Poverty Alleviation’ (WASPA) project, are all seated in a room with community members, farmers, Municipal
Council members, NGOs and other organizations talking about putting a garbage trap on a diversion canal that leads to the rice paddies of a group of farmers outside of Kurunegala town, Sri Lanka.

Phillip Amoah- IWMI researcher- discusses good wastewater use practices with farmers and caterers at a WorldCafe-style meeting organised by the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot Project in Ghana

Meanwhile, in Accra, Ghana, researchers from IWMI – Tonya Schuetz, Pay Drechsel and Phillip Amoah -together with local partners at the University for Development Studies, Gordana Kranjac-Berisavljevic,

Phillip Amoah- IWMI researcher- discusses good wastewater use practices with farmers and caterers at a WorldCafe-style meeting organised by the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot Project in Ghana

the University of Science and Technology and Abubakar Bakang, are organizing a World Café with local
farmers, extension agents and caterers, talking about good practices for using wastewater in urban agriculture.

The article then goes on to ask: “These are all IWMI researchers – but what are they doing?”- since it seems quite different from usual research activities.

The article explains that “They are all carrying out research projects within the IWMI portfolio but are at the same time using some innovative knowledge sharing approaches with stakeholders and partners.

..and now comes an even bigger question- “But WHY?

According to the article: “Despite the wealth of knowledge generated by research projects throughout the CGIAR, there continues to be a gap between knowledge generated and the application of such knowledge for the improvement of food production and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries. The key challenge is to make research relevant to people and issues on the ground, to build capacity of others to tackle these
issues, and to find appropriate ways to deliver research results to those stakeholders who can make use of this knowledge
.”

The article then goes on to further describe the work of the six Pilot Projects of the Knowledge Sharing in Research Project which are all trying out knowledge sharing-oriented approaches in various stages of their research projects in order to :

  • improve the relevance of the research chosen
  • enhance the planning of the research through taking into account local knowledge, needs and priorities
  • involve stakeholders directly in research activities
  • disseminate research-generated knowledge in ways that are meaningful and accessible to various target groups
  • promote wider learning throughout the research process through more participatory forms of M&E

A previous post informed you all about an article- ‘Sharing knowledge-Tell us a story‘- based on the Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) Project and its Pilot Projects in the New Agriculturalist Magazine (September edition).

This article got alot of interesting feedback and has been picked up by other publications, websites and blogs.

The KSinR story’s publicity and interest are further reflected in the fact that the story appears in the ‘Top Five Articles- As rated by readers’–highlighted with an orange box in the screen shot below:

In my previous blog posting yesterday, I wrote about a recent trip I made to visit the WorldFish-lead KSinR Pilot Project which has been tying out Outcome Mapping as a knowledge sharing approach to enhance a research project on fish culture activities in Vietnam.

But why Outcome Mapping? How does this serve as knowledge sharing? and what does it offer to improving the research process?

Outcome Mapping is relatively new approach, developed by IDRC to planning and M&E. The theory behind Outcome Mapping is that it focuses on one specific type of result: Outcomes as behavioural change. “Outcomes are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups and organizations with whom a program works directly.”

For more information on the Outcome Mapping approach- see:

So Outcome Mapping offers a new way of thinking about achievements within a project–a different type of knowledge–which is valuable for a project such as the WorldFish-run CPWF 35 project.

This project found that monitoring technical aspects alone such as fish numbers and types, snail population, etc was not enough to understand what was going on in the fish culture activities to provide support to the next season or to other groups. What was missing was a method which would also allow the project to understand what various groups were doing during the season, how did activities and behaviours change, what relationships formed and how did they work–all important knowledge to use in strengthening fish culture activities for those doing it and providing lessons for the project on the management of this collective activity.

Nets are used to create distinct ponds for fish culture activities in flooded areas. These are then managed collectively by a group--an activity which needs to be monitored and evaluated to generate lessons for further activities.
Nets are used to create distinct ponds for fish culture activities in flooded areas. These are then managed collectively by a group–an activity which needs to be monitored and evaluated to generate lessons for further activities.

Outcome Mapping apart from looking at a different type of knowledge also offers a different way of generating and sharing knowledge. Outcome Mapping is designed to be a participatory form of planning and M&E, taking into account the perspectives of various stakeholders both in the (intentional) design stage of Outcome Mapping for a project as well as in the monitoring and evaluation activities too.

Meeting with members of the farming club doing fish culture to discuss their vision, activities, experiences and lessons as part of using Outcome Mapping for M&E and learning

Outcome Mapping is meant to be interactive and based on the sharing of knowledge between a project and many of its stakeholders. The knowledge generated from this M&E approach is done in such a way that both two-way communication as well as learning are promoted. This is different from more traditional styles of M&E which consist of surveys or formal observation visits by project personnel (or consultants) who extract information from stakeholders, project sites and activities and then it resides in reports and databases. This offers little chance for others to learn from the process of M&E.

Since the WorldFish- run CPWF 35 project has been designed as an adaptive management approach, it is vital that lessons and experiences from one season of fish culture activities be fed back into the process for the groups of people who are carrying out and supporting such activities to learn from past seasons and readjust activities for the next season. A previous survey method used by the project was very complex, time-consuming, and data heavy. The results of the survey took a long time to collect, a long time to enter into a special database- leaving little time for analysis and with little prospect or mechanism for getting ‘results’ back to the people undertaking fish culture.

It was necessary to find a better way to carry out M&E within the project, in a way that could both better capture what was going on through including perspectives of those involved, as well as allowing an opportunity for learning by those involved in the fish culture activities themselves.

Thus Outcome Mapping was chosen as an approach to try…and we are following the efforts of this Project to use Outcome Mapping and making it available on the KS blog and website.

The Project Leader of the Knowledge Sharing in Research (KSinR) project recently visited the WorldFish-lead Pilot project in Vietnam.

The objectives of the trip were:

  • To observe the use of Outcome Mapping in the project
  • Provide support in the use of chosen KS tools
  • Capture lessons from the project
  • Collect materials and documents and take photographs (see trip photos on KS Flickr)
  • Discuss and conduct interviews with various stakeholders involved in the project
  • Plan for future project activities

So what is this project all about…

The WorldFish Centre submitted a proposal to the Knowledge Sharing in Research component of the KS project with the intention of “applying KS tools to impact monitoring and project M&E” to the CPWF 35 project on ‘Community-based fish culture in seasonal floodplains and irrigation systems’ that it is running. The rational was that as the overall project aims to develop appropriate technologies through an adaptive management approach it requires both national partners and direct beneficiaries at the community-level to evaluate fish culture activities each year and modify the following year’s approach based on the results. As such more participatory approaches to impact monitoring would provide a more appropriate and accurate picture of fish culture activities, including the perspectives of those involved, and make the learning directly accessible to those who are working in fish culture.

According to Natasja Sheriff, Project Leader of CPWF 35 and the KSinR Pilot project component:

“It is necessary to use approaches which adopt a more participatory approach to impact monitoring to ensure we are building a complete and accurate picture of project impacts and which allow project beneficiaries to more openly share their experience of project impact. Through more emphasis on sharing knowledge- we can all learn alot”

Through the Knowledge Sharing in Research project others can learn about the experience of this WorldFish Pilot project in using more knowledge sharing-oriented approaches to learning and M&E.

The trip–what was happening?

On this trip the Pilot Project Team was having to re-introduce Outcome Mapping to a new project site due to the previous site having decided not continue doing fish culture activities any longer. The activities of the week included:

*Presentation of and training in Outcome Mapping approach to local research partner- RIA2 again.

*Development of intentional design of Outcome Mapping by team, with inputs of VISIONS, BOUNDARY PARTNERS and PROGRESS MARKERS from various stakeholders such as WorldFish, RIA2, Local Authority, Fisheries Department, as well as the farmers themselves.

Keep tuned into this blog for a series of posts on the trip to Vietnam…

An article about the Knowledge Sharing in Research Project is the opening piece for the most recent News Bulletin of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-see it at the following link.

The article opens with a description of the IRRI-lead KSinR Pilot Project, which is developing and strengthening the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank as a mechanism to get valuable research-generated knowledge to farmers by making it appropriately packaged and available for use by extension agents.

The article goes on to further describe the KSinR project as a whole and providing information on the work of the other 5 KSinR Pilot Projects.

The ICT-KM Knowledge Sharing Project has continued to enjoy active engagement and interest from the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF). In this second Phase of the Project many of the six Knowledge Sharing in Research (KSinR) Project’s Pilot Projects are either directly involved in or related to the CPWF. These projects not only help to provide valuable lessons about the potential of knowledge sharing in research as an overall principle to help improve the impact of research, but showcase the reality of use, role and value of various knowledge sharing-oriented approaches which can be adopted in research programs, projects and activities.

An article about the work of the Knowledge Sharing in Research(KSinR) Project has been included in the latest edition of the newsletter of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food(CPWF) newsletter- see link.

Water & Food Edition 27, CPWF Newsletter Aug/Sept 2008

The article outlines the rationale, objectives and activities of the KSinR project overall, see excerpt below:

It then focuses in on the KSinR Pilot projects which are either directly related or somehow connected to the CPWF, highlighting their particular knowledge sharing strategies and initial lessons emerging.