Finally, I’m happy to share with you the results of the ICT-KM Program’s recent external review. Although I was a little nervous about the actual review process, not to mention the review report itself, I feel my team and I have all benefited from having outsiders look at our work. We have been forced to take a long hard look at ourselves; what went right, what went wrong, and where we hope to go from here.
It’s always good to have the fresh, impartial eyes of an external team look at your work and give you feedback in an open, constructive manner. “Nemo profeta in patria!” as my ancestors would say (“No one is a prophet in his own country”).
In today’s world, it’s absolutely vital to get some sense of perspective before one can successfully navigate all the challenges presented by any profession or career. One’s worldview is by default limited — geographically, culturally, historically, linguistically — chances for success in meeting those challenges will be equally limited. So, it was important to have diverse perspectives contribute to the way we charter our course, as we recently explored at our leadership course in IMD.
In coming to their conclusions, members of the review team were more than thorough. They diligently and systematically combed through six years of paperwork and web content, spoke to people familiar with the Program, and asked for opinions from people who knew of our work but who didn’t know the people behind the scenes. In short, no stone was left unturned.
Overall, the review is extremely positive. Here are just a few comments:
“The Program has important accomplishments that have:
- Opened access to research results through the CGVirtual Library, the AAA (Availability, Accessibility, Applicability) Framework, and CGMap/EasyMTP ….
- Expanded knowledge sharing in the CGIAR through tools, including the Knowledge Sharing Toolkit , workshops and events, such as the first Knowledge Share Fair for Agricultural Development and Food Security (January 2009 at FAO). The Program has supported researchers at the project level, fostered sharing of lessons learned (such as WorldFish Center’s “StoryMercial”), and been recognized for its role (as at the International Farmer’s Conference-ICARDA).”
But that doesn’t mean that the panel agreed with everything we’ve being doing. Nonetheless, we appreciate the excellent suggestions on how we can improve, just as much as the recognition we have received for the things that went well.
One of the recommendations suggested “that the ICT-KM Program sharpen its communications strategy to build awareness of the value of ICT-KM initiatives to CGIAR operations and research results.” This is one area that we are definitely focusing on, starting with this message.
Many of our projects and activities have chartered new waters in the CGIAR. We have taken on new ideas, adopted and adapted new technologies, and attempted to change mindsets – all without being 100% sure that we would succeed. In that regard, I see the similarities between our work and that of a venture capitalist: we are willing to take a calculated risk or two in the hope that some activities will turn out well. And some of the activities that turned out well, turned out really well, as highlighted in the panel’s comments above. Some of our outputs and outcomes are also changing the way things are done in the CGIAR, and that’s both gratifying and motivational, because there is still so much more that we can do.
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to my team members: dedicated professionals who demonstrate on a daily basis their commitment to and belief in what we do. I applaud their resiliency and look forward to having them on board for the next stage of our journey. An expression of heartfelt appreciation to our reviewers too, for their objectivity, willingness to understand and explore and their constructive comments.
From a personal perspective, leading the Program has been interesting and rewarding. I’ve had an opportunity to support innovative approaches that have changed the way I work, been exposed to ideas that have opened my mind, and met people who have changed me as a person. It’s not always been easy, but it’s been a memorable and rewarding ride.
“What next for the ICT-KM Program?” you might ask.
Well, I have to say I feel heartened by the panels closing remarks:
The ICT-KM Program has made great strides and has the potential to contribute much more to the CGIAR System and its research objectives. The Program should be an integral part of the new CGIAR. It should no longer be a fee-for-service operation. In the Panel’s view, the CGIAR should maintain its commitment to ICT-KM during this time of transition so that the Program will not lose momentum or valuable staff, and can build on past experience to better serve the future CGIAR.
Now that we’ve learned and made adjustments, we’re more than ready to move forward … to support the new CGIAR!
I hope to see you all there.
Photo courtesy M. Meynsbrughen via stock.xchng