Thursday, 25 March 2010

South-South Exchange Workshop on Knowledge Management

The Chorlaví Group / Rimisp is organizing a workshop in Nairobi Kenya about exchanging Knowledge Management experiences within learning networks which takes place these days (25 and 26 of March) in Nairobi. The workshop is aimed at:
  • Socializing the experience of the Grupo Chorlavi (GC) in Latin America and discussing possible adaptation and application potential under the conditions of other regions.
  • Learning about experiences in South Asia and Africa to learn and manage knowledge from activities carried out by rural poor and small farmers to solving particular rural development challenges.
  • Analyzing the convenience and potential adoption of those methods through a South-South exchange program, that may build capacities and share experiences to accelerate rural development and poverty alleviation processes.
So these two days we are gathered with 15 people all involved in learning networks, we will be hearing about the experiences of all of them: the ENRAP project in the Philippines and India, The Experince of ASOCAMP in Latin America, Fidafrique and experiences in West Africa and Madagascar.

Today the workshop started with a presentation about the Chorlaví group by its coordinator Manuel Chiriboga:

View more presentations from ComPart User.

This presentation gave a good insight in the process the Grupo Chorlaví went through in the past 12 years. A path which was characterized by an ongoing process of learning about the own way of working and adaptation of the lessons learnt about promoting learning activities among actors of Rural development in Latin America.

Also some interesting lessons about thematic issues where presented, such as:
Dynamic markets are both local and outside territories. Local markets on which producers and organizations normally have an amount of information (price, quality, type of consumers) can become engines of economic development. Not always external markets are the only ones that are dynamic.
Innovations within institutions and of productive processes have been critical in assuring access and the sustainability of links with dynamic markets.
When territories can link Identity to products and services new markets can be developed, which can under certain circumstances transform territories
Generally the impacts of market access are transmitted to the territories through the increase in employment and incomes of the participants in value chains directly linked to the products that are exchanged in such dynamic markets.

This presentation led to interesting discussions among the participants about many aspects of fostering learning processes, such as (the oral) culture and language, the always scarce means, mechanisms to define the themes about which joint learning can be organized and the necessity to create a ‘learning culture’ within the own organization.

In conclusion for the Grupo Chorlaví it all is about building and developing a system of ‘Social Learning’ which in the end has to lead to change. In that way inclusing learning processes always will improve the quality of (development) projects and enhance the possibility of up scaling.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Seven reasons why the new PBworks Business Edition is good for you!

PBworks is the wiki platform that we are using in ComPart and they have recently released a new version that has a lot of new and improved features. In fact, PBworks offers now more than just the possibility to create wikis, and the benefit of this can summarized as follows:
  1. PBworks offers the possibility to create a 'securely open garden' for the ICCO Alliance flowers to grow in a protected environment, leaving the possibility open for 'outsiders' to view and comment on the greater part of the content.

  2. It has chat and instant messaging functionalities, to exchange with colleagues in real time while you are working on a wiki.

  3. Users can create project related milestones and assign tasks.

  4. It makes possible to differentiate between 'network users' that can join all workspaces in the network, and 'guest' that are invited only to specific workspaces.

  5. It provides a better overview of what's happening in the garden, bringing together in one single place all the notifications about changes in the different workspaces.

  6. It has social functionalities, with each user able to create and update his/her profile and status and to 'follow' others users.

  7. Economically, it provided to be a great deal!
We as ComPart admin team are very happy with these new development, even if they entails some extra work for us in terms of getting all the network users aboard and setting rights and permissions for users and guests...

To support ICCO Alliance staff and partners in this process and to help you find your way in the new ComPart network, we're developing a series of user manuals and guides. Please let us know if something is still missing, and if you need specific explanations we are not yet providing.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

ComPart comes of age

"We've stopped playing and now we've started the game", said Reinier van Hoffen after the ComPart lunchtime meeting last week. He was referring to one of the themes that emerged at the ICCO Alliance Working Conference last year.

For the last two years ICCO staff have been working with the ComPart team to explore how best we can support collaboration and knowledge sharing across the Alliance using modern online tools. Browsing through the over 100 wikis, regular blog posts and collections of conferences and workshops material from events across the globe, it's clear that we are in a new, more advanced, phase.

A key indicator of this, of course, is that the ICCO Alliance Business Plan is being developed in a wiki, which means easier management of documents and comments than is possible in the traditional approach that has large numbers of documents flying around the organisation by email, risking confusion over which is a current version and increasing the email flood. At the same time several teams have developed workspaces to support their everyday work, with rich and varied content, using a number of tools.

Just do it!

To share the work that is being done across ICCO, ComPart organised a lunchtime 'show and tell' on Tuesday 23 February 2010. It was a well attended meeting, with staff from all areas of the organisation. The central activity was a chat show - a presentation from three teams of how the the ComPart approach is supporting their work. As you can see from the recording below, the teams are gathering a wide range of material and using several tools. Possibly more important is their enthusiasm for their work. All of the presenters echoed Mariken Gaanderse when she said, "For me the best advice (to my colleagues) would be just to start using (ComPart), because only then you'll find out what it provides you."

However, in spite of the progress and enthusiasm, many challenges still remain: not all staff are at ease with technological changes and the learning curve seems to be a bit steep for some. Moreover, some desktop or web based applications are not easily available for staff inside the ICCO building, limiting for example the use of Skype, the synchronization between Outlook and Google calendar, or the availability of AT&T Connect. Lastly, the enormous pressures on the Regional Offices during their set-up phase means many haven't yet been able to explore in any depth the ComPart approach and toolkit. ComPart is especially relevant in the new decentralised ICCO. So it is good to hear that regions such as Central Asia, which are more established, are now keen to engage with the programme, as Pepijn Trapman confirmed on his recent visit to Utrecht.

The debate and lively discussion offered us as ComPart Admin Team a great deal of insight in terms of expectations, challenges and issues that ICCO Alliance staff are facing as far as information, communication and knowledge sharing are concerned, and how ComPart can further support their work. The recommendations and issues raised are being integrated into our plans for 2010, and will be reflected in the way we support ICCO Alliance staff and partners.