Collaborate, Create, Communicate

From the notes of the Fishbowl session to a personal reflection

the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)
the fishbowl session (photo by Petr Kosina)

This is a post following up on the Knowledge Management, Education and Learning Workshop held in Maputo 4 and 5 December 2008. (You can read more about this workshop by selecting the tag KELMaputo.)

A few weeks after our workshop in Maputo I have found some time and mental diskspace to finish loose threads. The following is a short summary of the notes of the session we used to hear back from the three groups, also known as ‘the Fishbowl session‘.

Notes of the Fishbowl session Maputo workshop, 5 December

In the group on learning with communities the ‘model’ for the new -or not really that new?- reality for agricultural knowledge or information was discussed. The networked model is becoming more eminent in an increasingly connected world, like in Steve Songs presentation. What is the role of research in the new networked reality? How does it link to the changes within CGIAR?

Several implications were touched. Not seeing CG as central, but the whole as a network of equals, is one of the ‘new’ perspectives. How to keep track of interventions and of their success?

The following emerged from the discussions as good things to be doing:

  • Allowing the use of process indicators instead of only focussing on result or product indicators. The idea is: if the process is right, there is probably somewhere, sometime, a result. Much easier to ‘measure’ the quality of the process than insisting on always measuring the result. (Plus you avoid the problem of attribution. (The question: is the result measured thanks to the process).
  • Instead of zooming in to the problems, use asset based thinking. Collecting success stories within and around CGIAR is important; there are many and they set good examples.
  • Partnerships are considered crucial. What are ways to build equal partnerships?

Universities in Africa, as discussed by a group on formal education, are very diverse, in all possible aspects. They need support to enter the 21century, how can we support them? They, too, are part of the networked model: how can they deal with it?

Except for the changes to adapt to shifting times, curricular changes (or renewal of curricula) are needed. What opportunities do the new connections, the social web,  offer here? Can we think of e-curricula? Also: how do we increase the capacity on Knowledge Management itself, is that by doing it or additionally by offering KM curriculum?

And finally for the group focussing on Knowledge Management. Within CGIAR, How to really embed KM?
Parallels between institutes, departments and key programs were explored.
A broad range of topics was touched in these discussions, networking occurred and several personal commitments were made.

Personal reflection
I think the workshop showed how it all hangs together: the networked model for Agricultural Knowledge, in which farmer communities, the value chains, Research, formal education and joint learning all have their place. The workshop clearly showed how this picture is changing; becoming more “networked” with the increasing connections and digital tracks we are all leaving.

Ajit Maru, co-initiator of the workshop, explains what to him is the core of the change in a comment on this blog:

Ajit Maru Says:
December 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

The core issue in Steve’s presentation was about “conversation” in a community.

To me, it is not only conversation that is important but “continuous conversation” within a community that is even more important. We can have a conversation in a community but when it is continued over time instead of it being one-off it enables blossoming of different perspectives on an issue that leads to a far more deeper understanding of the issue. (his comment is much longer, read on here..)

This, together with the changes upcoming in CGIAR, gave us a context in which there was LOTS to jointly explore: how to be effective, how to link, how to deal with partners inside and outside CGIAR, how to keep track, how to share our successes and failures? Who to liaise with, what are possible alliances? And, maybe most of all: Where am I in the new picture, where are you? What do the changes, both wider societal and within CGIAR, mean to me? How is my institute, my department, my group of colleagues reacting to the changes? and how is yours?

The maps are changing. Explorations on a continuously changing map are not easy. Some of us may feel we achieved little, as there is little concrete result. But still it feels like we worked hard: at getting to grips with new challenges ahead, brainstorming on what to do about them, networking for possible alliances. I for me have decided to do as suggested, and to focus on process and not immediately on result…. maybe it is early to set our marks. To me, the workshop seemed like a beginning: where to put our marks next? What are some common principles for the future? How and with whom can we join our forces for the future? I trust this blog will be one of the meeting places where we can follow the ongoings of this process. What will the 2009 episodes bring?