Collaborate, Create, Communicate

ICRISAT: Changing the way we communicate

ICRISAT,  the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, sister to the other 14 centers of the CGIAR is holding this week in its headquarters in Hyderabad, India its Annual Research Meeting. Over 150 scientists gathered here from its 6 research locations in Africa and India to design its activities around the recently launched strategic plan to 2020.

The place is vibrant!

If you have never visited ICRISAT’s headquarters, I can assure you they deserve a visit. Extensive fields abuzz with activities, scientists, researchers working  for real impact on their 5 mandated crops, research labs, quarantine stations,  nurseries for regenerating the collection of their vast genebank… all in an extraordinary location where a straight line marks two extremely different soil types: Black and Red. A paradise for researchers.

Home to an amazing array for flora and fauna,  old temples, castles, a nature reserve, lakes, the ICRISAT campus  is a paradise for those visiting it too!

But.. I am here to share with you my admiration for the bold steps ICRISAT management is taking. They are embracing a new way of communicating, opening up channels to innovative communication media. “We are changing the way we communicate” said Rex Navarro, Director of Communications at ICRISAT as he addressed a plenary session.

Nadia, Peter and I were invited  here to support the ICRISAT team as they embark in exploring and adopting new ways of working and communicating their work.

We held seminars on CGXchange, a presentation on ‘How to communicate for impact’, where we showed our ‘Moving Story’ and presented our AAA and CIARD work to promote the way our research is made more available and accessible.

We also held seminars on ‘ Introducing Social Media’  and ‘Blogging for impact’, one  on ‘Data management: challenges and opportunities in the new CGIAR’ , and on ‘GIS-enabled tools’….a variety of tools and options for the participants who filled the rooms. Attendance was beyond expectation.

The ICRISAT team shared their work on their new Intranet, the Virtual Library, the ICT4D…. all tools to support the work of their scientists in their various locations.

In the last two days we shared  enough information to be overwhelming for some but hopefully inspiring enough for most – so they will want to know more.

The week here reminded me of the time  Peter Ballantyne and myself visited CIAT to carry out similar seminars. CIAT documented their experience on their blog.  And if I see the amazing progress CIAT has made in the last year and a half in the way they share and communicate their work, and seeing the enthusiasm around the campus in Hyderabad this week I have great hopes and expectations for ICRISAT!

Photo credit:  ShotfromtheHip