Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Burkina: Formation Wiki des membres du Conseil d'Administration du CCEB

Du 15 au 19 septembre 2009 s'est tenue dans les locaux de l'association ANTBA à Ouagadougou, une session de formation des membres du conseil d'administration du CCEB. Ladite session de formation portait sur le management de projet et le leadership ainsi que sur l'utilisation du wiki.

La formation sur le wiki, visait à outiller les membres du Conseil d'Administration à la communication stratégique par les outils Web2 notamment le wiki.

Le contenu de la formation s'articulait autour des points:
  • créer une page;
  • créer des lien;
  • éditer une page;
  • uploader une image et l'insérer dans une page wiki;
  • formater une image au format web avant publication sur le wiki;
  • insérer un sous menu dans une page wiki.
Dans l'ensemble la formation s'est bien déroulé et les participants ont promis d'enrichir les pages de leur structure respective.

C'est donc sur une grande note de satisfaction que la session de formation en wiki prit fin.

Christophe HIEN, pour ComPart Afrique de l'Ouest

Monday, 21 September 2009

IWC09: Lessons learnt supporting the process

The ICCO-Alliance International Working Conference has come to an end last Friday. This conference was a success, many things have been thouroughly discussed and on essential issues agreements have been reached. So the ICCO-Alliance partners have a good basis to (quickly) build on the plans for the future.

In supporting this conference with over 120 people with sessions running in parallel, attempting to capture information for the group and allow access to a further 200 interested colleagues with passworded access, as "wiki-moderators" we are bound to have learnt a few lessons. Many of the approaches we have used here have been tried and tested elsewhere, but a few are new.

Social reporting
In a passworded context - discussing the business plan 2011-2015 for the ICCO-Alliance obviously is not public - means working in a more restricted space than we have been used to in previous work. Using Twitter in combination with blog posts, Slideshare and Blip.tv proved very powerful as a way of recording discussions at the EADI Information Management Working Group for example. There we could have an initial session to raise awareness of the new tools and then agree on some simple rules to tag all the materials and feature them through one site, while people published throughout the web. Last week we had to define what to share where and whith whom so things got a little bit more complicated.

Walled Web2
Instead in this situation we find ourselves relying on one 'walled garden' (the wiki) to record the internal deliberations, and report on the work in progress. Some products can be released to a broader audience to provide an idea of the process, and give some idea of the content (e.g. the post on this blog). However participation can still be social within this garden, but the barriers to contributing are higher and the motivations quite different. In comparison with some other meetings, this time many more traditional reporting tools were used; with summaries and presentations on flipcharts, and digital written content being rare. The wiki was not really embedded in the process of facilitation, (group reports could and/or should have been directly written and documented on the wiki) also because most delegates did not know how to contribute directly to the wiki.
Connectivity and contributions
The venue for the meeting (Kontakt der Kontinenten, Soesterberg) has superb connectivity, but with pressures of time, this is used in the breaks for catching up on emails and other work. As always during this type of meetings there was not much opportunity to review the contents of the wiki. However the documenting work was also meant to be used by those unable to attend (colleagues in the offices in Utrecht and overseas and members of Regional Councils and partners organisations). Of course it can also already be seen to be a future resource for continuing discussions and developing ideas after the meeting.

Multiple channels
What has struck us all about the meeting is the multiple channels being used to communicate the activities during this week. Screens in the common areas ran the 10 minute daily news bulletin which featured activities from that day. Short videos (blips) were used to capture content from the sessions which could be shared with a broader public such as work on the gender policy and regional analysis. These blips were also used to illustrate the process log showing the work of the facilitators and the cartoonist. Presentations were shared on Slideshare and photos through Flickr, this meant they could be available to others.

Multiple approaches
A number of approaches have been used by the facilitators of the meeting. We have changed the way we cover the outcomes of these activities. As the approach to presenting and capturing information is primarily paper based and verbal in the way the process has been organised we have had to rely on photos of flipcharts and audio to quickly capture materials.

Methodologies such as the timeline have been proven to bring identity and understanding to a community, and this way of introducing the discussion on values worked well. By using tools such as the online timeline we were quickly able to showcase the discussions and feature on the wiki and the blog.

Again the PBworks platform has proved itself with the speed with which templates for pages can be created, files uploaded (directly transformed in wiki pages) and linked and large volumes of information managed. The spellchecker proved itself as high speed note taking affected the accuracy of data entry. A production line where photos of flipcharts could be uploaded into tables and transcribed later made the wiki a significant reference resource.

What would we change
To start with, we think that working with the wiki needs to be more embedded in the facilitation of the meeting. In developing ideas where virtual discussion will have to continue after the meeting, materials need to be captured as early as possible. Whilst not every group could have worked easily around a screen to report their thoughts, some could have and this would improve capturing the details of the meeting. We need to see when the notes made in word by group members appear on the wiki later.

Further, we needed more preparation in promoting the wiki, improving ease of access for participants, and considering distribution of printouts (this was limited by environmental concerns). It is also important when working like this to integrate communication and facilitation support, something that proved its value as the conference progressed.

Overall feeling
This was a demanding assignment but very worthwhile for the value it brought to some of the participants and management. It proved to be an opportunity to be innovative in some areas. It was an opportunity to see and combine new approaches and to build a communication vehicle for ongoing discussions and a channel for feedback in the conference.

The ComPart admin team (Pier, Chris and Maarten)

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Thursday, 17 September 2009

IWC09: Co-creating plans

In line with the participatory cooking exercise of the night before, the third day of the 2009 IWC focused on 'co-creation': based on the outcomes of the conversations as they emerged from the previous days, participants were asked to make choices and create clarity about the priorities and the main foundations of the future work of the ICCO Alliance.

A solo-refection exercise allowed participants to find some time and space to think back and and digest the ideas that have been emerging in the conference so far, and to define their vision for the future of the ICCO Alliance. The plenary feedback session created then the ground for the open space, where participants divided themselves into groups. They flashed out concrete suggestions on how the ICCO Alliance should work in the coming periods, for example in terms of identity and values, priority themes and burning issues, country choice etc.

Very concrete recommendations and proposals were made, forming a rather solid basis to build upon and to further develop. The common feeling was that the seeds for something new and different have been planted, and that the conversation has been scaled up significantly.

A contribution to today's process has been made also by ICCO staff joining for a cabaret performance. This is an established tradition in the ICCO Utrecht office, and it was great to have a snapshot of this year upcoming programme.

David Kabiswa from ACET in Uganda shared with us some of his reflections on the day. He truly appreciated the process and the fact that enough time was given to reflect and to dive deep into the content of the matters, coming up with concrete suggestions for the work the Alliance should focus on in the coming time.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

IWC09: A recipe for success

The International Working Conference has focussed on all the participants working together to develop the ideas and strategies that underpin the future work of the ICCO Alliance.

This evening this was taken one step further with participants not only working together in the conference, but cooking their own dinner together in the kitchen.

This meeting has been using a number of innovative approaches to ensuring participation in the process, visualising ideas and concepts through cartoons, summarising the conference each day in a news bulletin and keeping remote and conference participants informed through a wiki and this blog.

The cookery class comes at the end of an intensive day where small groups have been working in parallel to develop approaches to different issues throughout the day. This process will continue tomorrow with pesrnal reflections from the participants and an open space sessions to further deepen into the issues and provide specific recommendations for the ICCO Alliance work.

As we sit down to write this we are still waiting to taste the meal from the joint cooking activity, but lets hope that "Too many cooks don't spoil the broth" and that they can stand the heat and stay in the kitchen.

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IWC09: The Marketplace

Tuesday afternoon was the opportunity to hear more about regional office initiatives and thematic initiatives in a marketplace format. Participants visited 10 stands setup to explain the activities of the Alliance and some of the plans underway on a thematic and regional basis. As an example two of the stands are illustrated below, one for Central and Eastern Africa, and one for the approach to a gender strategy for the Alliance.

Central and Eastern Africa
Joyce Umbima (Member RC Central, East Africa) reviews discussions about Central and East Africa, explaining the context, challenges and opportunities for her region.

Gender Strategy
Margreet Mook (ICCO) describes the findings so far in developing the gender strategy for the ICCO Alliance.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

IWC09: A picture is worth a thousand words

Sitting in a tricky management meeting, a colleague pointed out to Mark de Koning that the cartoon he had doodled in the margin of his notes might break the ice in the meeting. The use of his cartoons in that meeting was so successful that he discovered a new career.

An ex-fireman and facilitator Mark has not looked back since, as he says himself in the video below judge for yourself how good he is at it.

With the series of cartoons he produced yesterday he has managed to capture the spirit of the discussions and some interesting insights into the topics.

He has covered the process of setting values, illustrated the topics such as stewardship, working together, the justice debate and interactions with donors with a few pen strokes.

He explains how cartoons in meetings can provide a shortcut in designing projects and provoke debate as well as providing a way to visualise complex ideas.

Take a look at Mark's cartoons and decide which is your favorite.

Visit his site for more background.

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IWC09: The value of History

Following the 'co-sensing' theme for the day, the working conference focussed on sharing experiences and drawing on these experiences to plan the future. In particular to draw on the experience of over 40 years of ICCO Alliance members working for development to identify values for the future.

The first working session saw 120 people reflecting on their joint history of experiences in development. The process looked back to 1965 and forward to 2019. Participants recorded global events, their organisations activities and personal events during that time.

From the Beatles to 9/11 and beyond

It was fascinating to see the how the changes in the global environment and changes in daily life had impacted on the activities of the organisations represented at the meeting. New communication opportunities arose with the development of email and electronic communications in the late 1980's early 1990s. Face to face networking and new alliances were influenced by the fall in cost of international travel. The shift in the power dynamics in the development sector was also reflected in the timeline as civil society organisations developed in the the 1980s and ICCO shifted to a rights based approach in the late 1990s. The different alliances and management approaches evolved during the timeline, and this lead into the summarising of each decade of history to produce a series of shared values that participants wanted to see reflected in future plans for the ICCO Alliance.

The timeline
The events and actions of the organisations are recorded in the timeline below:

^ drag the button to follow the timeline

The values that informed the work through the decades were assembled and summarised. To provide food for thought four values were highlighted:
  • Justice
  • Compassion
  • Working together
  • Respect for differences
Participants were invited to discuss how they understood these values and how they have been reflected into ICCO Alliance work.

There was some discussion as to whether justice was an aim and working together was a methodology rather than being values.

The argument developed when focussed on the example of working on justice as a value in Palestine between staff there and the Netherlands relied on working together in equality. It was therefore the equality of the relationship which was the value and justice an aim.

There was generally a big discussion over the issue of justice and whether it should take presedence over peace. To get peace agreements you may have to sacrifice justice. A focus on justice can hinder peace agreements where compromise is required.

It was raised that compassion for those who suffer from injustice is essential. The question was then posed as to how could the alliance reflect compassion in the new organisation.

Perhaps it is easier when translating values into attitude. When talking about compassion people think of old fashioned notions of charity but really it is a question of listening and respect. This issue will be elaborated in the session of Wednesday.

Perhaps compassion can be most clearly demonstrated through developing strategies where the poorest of poor are reached. A recent University of Amsterdam study shows that development assistance has reached middle range of poverty but not the very poor. This could be a demonstration of seeking justice and demonstrating compassion. One test should be that we want this for ourselves, e.g. a public health system, a venue where you would go for medical assistance, don't make it "just enough" for the beneficiaries.

Working together
It is easier to do things for than with people. This is why it is so important to show respect for differences when working with others. The discussions around the importance of working together came back to issues of respect, equality and justice.

Respect for differences
When the North feel they are too tough they withdraw and call it respect.
The question of accountability is funding. The voices of the critics have been taken on board and we have a new way of working. Co-responsibility may be the answer, but this is not enough. There is a responsibility for stewardship, to preserve the environment together. If we take charcoal energy resources at the speed we do now it destroys livelihoods in South and North. There is a common duty to stop this.

Values are not something separate from the work, it is essential to measure everything we do by these values. Two different levels of values Individual and Organisations.

The discussion suggested remembering some non negotiable standards, for example transparency and equality. Other values that were raised comprise: courage, hope and inspiration.

As the ICCO Alliance is moving into a larger group values should not all be open to negotiation. For example, being brave, the need to be courageous, the need to be open, do not compromise.

This discussion gave a bigger and broader understanding of the values to take forward tomorrow in the group working on the topic of values for the ICCO alliance.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

IWC09: A new way of working

“A power shift","An open environment", "A meeting without decisions already made", "A chance to put our hands where our mouths are”. These are some of the sentences used by Jack van Ham in his introduction to the pre-meeting of the ICCO Alliance Working Conference.

In traditional meetings of this type normally much of the material would have been prepared before the event and participants would have discussed decisions already formulated in advance. Instead, this International Working Conference provides the opportunity to do things differently: participants will be working during the all week to "go home on Friday with new thoughts and ideas on how the ICCO Alliance will be working in the coming years."

Jack continues: "Do we have the courage to start this adventure? Is it possible to find common grounds among the different cultures involved in this process? We'll see Friday if we succeeded." However, defining a new way of working is paramount, as development cooperation has changed and there is a clear power-shift happening. An example of these is the case of the ICCO Alliance approaching a community in India to purchase carbon credits. This power shift where a donor becomes a customer for carbon credits and a poor community is selling a product changes the perspective. Clearly, we need to adapt to it.

Besides, the environment for the Alliance is changing in other ways too. Tomorrow the Government budget negotiations in the Netherlands will be held. This will probably mean a 700 million Euro cutback for development. This means the group will need new ways to be more creative with the money we have.

There is a great expectation, but also some nervousness, about the degree to which this IWC can put these new ideas into action, to in effect "put our hands where our mouth is." There is also excitement that new thoughts and ideas can emerge and that the group of participants can take co-responsibility for the way forward.

The pre-conference workshop is focussing on governance issues and structure, with participants discussing how the new governance structure will be working and outlining the mandate and roles of the different actors involved.

Participants will also have the opportunity to share and to discover their expectations of this working conference, and get to know each others.

Jack's final remark set the tone for the rest of the conference: "If you don’t have purpose it doesn’t matter how you work; if you do have a purpose, you need to agree how you want to work; if you want to walk fast, then walk alone; but if you want a sustainable solution you have to walk together."

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International Working Conference kicks-off

The International Working Conference of the ICCO Alliance kicks off today in Soesterberg. For the next five days, staff of ICCO and Alliance organisations, together with representatives of the Regional Councils, the International Advisory Council and Regional Working Offices will discuss, shape and define the new ways the organisation will be working in the coming years.

Before diving into the content, which will be dealt with in the next 4 days, the programme for this 'day zero' of the Conference focuses entirely on the governance structure of the organisation. It is in fact paramount to define the way ICCO will be working in the coming years and outline mandate and roles of the different actors involved.

The room is full with some 50 people from the International Advisory Council, the Regional Councils, and the Regional Working Offices. The people come from different countries and each of them has a different background in terms of relations with ICCO; some didn't know ICCO before being involved with it; others were vaguely familiar with it; some have been involved with ICCO partner's organisations; others knew about it through their association to ecumenical networks. This provides a great richness and diversity to built upon for the coming days of the conference. Talking around small tables of 5/6 people, the participants introduces themselves and get to know each other by sharing their stories, and exchanging their first thoughts about the conference. Some burning questions are already put on the table, and they will be addressed in the coming days.

This will prepare the ground for the the main part of the conference, starting tomorrow and lasting until Friday. Ingrid Richter and Ben Arikpo, two of the facilitators of the event, describe in the video below how the programme of the conference has been set up and what the process flow of the event will look like.

The objective is to "build community" and support participants in getting to know each other and capture the perspectives that are in the room. The facilitators will lead participants through a series of conversations about what's important for the future, which values they want to come alive and what are the priorities to focus on. Most important, as also mentioned by Jack van Ham in his introductory remarks, a lot of co-creation will come out from the conference: there's no pre-defined document that states these values and policies that people need to agree upon; instead, the real outcomes will be defined together by participants as the conference progresses.

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Reaching those outside the International Working Conference 2009

The ICCO Alliance is becoming a global player with decisions advised by partners and Regional Councils around the world. This implies a change in the way they do business. As Jack van Ham emphasized in opening the ICCO Working Conference a new way of working must be devised. This changes the way the physical face to face meeting takes place, but also the way that those who can’t attend can interact with participants.

The physical meeting is held in the Kontact der Kontinenten, but the virtual home of the meeting is a wiki. This focuses links to the various ways the meeting is recorded. Background documents, materials and presentations are augmented by short video interviews (blips), blog stories and continually updated wiki pages.

In planning this recording it is important to arrange parallel tasks. A reporter role for the sessions is arranged in relay, with more than one person recording, one in detail for the wiki, and one drawing stories for the blog.

The process followed the steps below:
  • Preparation of a wiki platform to hold background, logistics and schedule information for the meeting.
  • Promotion of participation through the wiki, with nearly 400 people being invited to the passworded wiki.
  • A focus on the process and determining how this could be recorded.
  • A focus on the participants and all actors to consider how their thoughts and activities could be recorded.
The wiki is prepared with the participation of the organisers and facilitators to present the instructional and logistical content for participants.

The promotion of the use of the wiki for the meeting is made through a series of emails, linking to the relevant content uploaded onto the wiki. Participants are then invited individually to have access to the passworded wiki.

Recording the process
The working conference needs to link with an overall story. The scene setting requires a story from the organizers, a clarification of the process, a description of forthcoming activities, the sessions to cover during the week and the final conclusions. The wiki is updated live with key questions, observations and findings as they emerge in the discussions.

Viewpoints of the participants
Having set the context the wiki needs to reflect the views of as many participants as possible. With this in mind a series of blips must be arranged ideally considering that participants interview each other. These arranged feedback must be accompanied by encouragement to add comments to the wiki and encouragement for those remotely participating.

A structured news session each evening is produced on video to record key points raised during the day, produced by the ICCO comunication and IT department . This 10 minute bulletin is broadcast every evening at 8pm, see the site.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Great expectations generated by ComPart training

Last week, Rimisp concluded the first cycle of the ComPart approach training sessions delived online to ICCO staff and partners in Latin America. The cycle included 3 sessions that focused on web 2.0 collaborative platforms, such as blogs and wikis, as well as a number of online tools to enhance the work of social and development organizations in the region.

Participants had the opportunity to learn about these tools and were able to practice online and in real time the concepts and techniques that were shown during the session.

The idea behind the training sessions was to provide people working within scattered teams with the tools and platforms available to make their collaboration easier.

The Rimisp team was pleased to receive positive comments from participants who have acknowledged the importance of these training sessions in their daily work. Samuel Baron, from Colombia, told us that after the training sessions, he has started using wikis to synthesis, share and update information from different team members located in various towns in Colombia. The wiki has allowed them to work collaboratively and in their own time.

The training sessions will continue and we hope participants will find them useful!