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.

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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…

The Institutional Knowledge Sharing project is supporting three pilot activities in three CGIAR centers in order to contribute to institutional innovation, and learn about the effectiveness of KS approaches. Two of the pilots have now made available their products.
 
“Recovering from natural disasters” A ‘Storymercial’ by WorldFish
“The storymercial is e a combination of video, audio and images.  At the heart of the storymercial is the story; the oldest most proven way humans learn and remember information.” says Helen Leitch, Project Leader. “Despite a huge investment in communications, awareness of the CGIAR Centers’ work and contribution to development is often low. Since knowledge products with more mass appeal are needed, this project examined the role storymercials can play to attract our donors and partners to knowledge, thus increasing the uptake of research outputs”.  Have a look at: http://www.worldfishcenter.org/v2/rehabilitate%20livelihoods.html

Best Practices in Research data Management (IRRI)
“There is still little experience in using wiki technology within CGIAR. The openness and visibility of a wiki is often seen as a risk, rather than an opportunity for increased participation and collaboration in communities of practice.” states Thomas Metz, Project Leader. This project developed, collected, recorded, and applied good practices in research data management, and initiated a communities of practice for research data managers.  It is enabling scientists to produce better quality research and release their primary data as global public goods that will be available and usable for future secondary use. See the wiki at: http://cropwiki.irri.org/everest/

More to come soon…

The Institutional KS project is suggesting and looking for feedback on a framework for action that has two main objectives:

  • Imbed KS action into a strategic and practical  framework.
  • Create a baseline for monitoring and evaluation of future KM/KS interventions.

This is an initial attempt which should be fine-tuned over the next months through:

  • Discussions with the ICT-KM Program, and a wider KS practitioner community.
  • Collaboration on the evaluation activity of KS project Phase 1
  • Preparation and the outcomes of the CGIAR KM strategy workshop which is currently being prepared for December 08.

Rational

Knowledge sharing and organizational development

We argue that institutional KS is to be analyzed and developed as an integral part of organizational development. Organizational development “is the process through which an organization develops the internal capacity to most efficiently and effectively provide its mission work and to sustain itself over the long term. “ (see Wikipedia).

Organizational development takes place in a constant interaction between Power (decision making and effectiveness managed from the top) and Empowerment (processes that allow us to gain the knowledge, skill-sets and attitude needed to cope with and influence the changing world and the organizational circumstances in which we evolve). We also argue that organizational development is unfolding in a constant effort to the cope with the duality between Complexity and organizational Effectiveness. Complexity is increasing by the scientific research problematic itself, the scope, and the geographical spread and cultural diverse teams that are involved nowadays in our research work to mention only a couple, and Effectiveness is a condition for sustainability. Power, Empowerment, Complexity, and Effectiveness are main pillars and challenges in the path towards beneficial and positive organizational development and are represented in an axes chart (see below).

4 interrelated fields of action

  • Three of the four fields of action created by the axes represent possible areas of KS intervention whereas the forth field between empowerment and effectiveness is the desirable stage where all organizational development efforts are aiming at: Momentum of adoption, impact and satisfaction.
  • The field between Complexity and Empowerment is an area of action that aims at improving skill-sets, knowledge and attitudes. They address issues related to capacity building, and strengthening, M&E, Impact assessment and organizational learning.
  • The field between Power and Complexity deals with strategic planning, development, or change management, as an effort to approach them in a systemic perspective and inclusive approach, based on an active interaction with the whole organization.
  • The field between Effectiveness and Power deals with corporate aspects related to: administrative issue, business reengineering and development, as well as communications, all those efforts that intend to make organizational processes more effective, visible, and transparent.

The left side of the axes is the area of organizational development that deals with transformative issues; the right side is the area that deals with practical aspects of organizational development.

The circle around the four components reflects their constant interaction; they are all essential to organizational development. We can for example state that: Empowerment which is based on the acknowledgement of organizational complexity and which benefits from management support and participatory decision making processes leads most probably to organizational effectiveness.  We could also say: An organization that empowers its personnel but does not manage a momentum of decision-making is going to reach levels of complexity that are difficult to handle and are getting in the way of effectiveness.   

A framework for Institutional KS project activities
 
Within this suggested framework, the activities of the Institutional KS project can be clustered as follows:

  • The KS Workshop, the KS Toolkit, the evaluation study of Phase 1 of the KS project (2004-2006) as well as the involvement with the KM4Dev community are activities that aim at empowerment of CGIAR staff  based on the acknowledgement of the complexity of organizational realities and our related KM/KS efforts.
  • The involvement in the CGIAR Change Management Process, and AGM events, as well as a planned KM strategy workshop are activities that support strategic planning processes in order to evidence the usefulness of KS approaches in that area. The pilot project with CIFOR on their strategic planning process is also part of this group of activities.
  • The pilot projects with IRRI (research data management) and WorldFish (effective communication through ‘storymercials’) are to be considered as an effort to showcase innovative ideas to make CGIAR daily business more effective and attractive. The KS Web site featuring Web 2.0 tools, and this blog are also to be considered part of this area.