27 September 2011 – Issue number 2 HIGHLIGHTS of 27 SEPTEMBERThe show is on the road 10:00 inaugural session in the Italian Conference Room followed by keynoteWell, the show is on the road. And IFAD’s address by Rob Burnetbuilding has metamorphised. There is specialenergy in the building. Everyone is happy and 11:30 in the Oval Room Modibo Traorésmiling. It is lovely to see so many familiar faces (FAO), Carlos Seré (ILRI) and Antonioand even more new faces. Rota (IFAD) will discuss the strengths andYesterday walking around the building you could see friends connecting weaknesses of recent livestock research forwith each other, you felt the buzz, felt the intensity of the conversations development, and explore key challenges for the futureand you witnessed how this positive energy was contagious and wasgetting everyone excited. 11:30 Communities of practice clinic withThe share fair-er’s energy cut through the walls and the glass windows. A Etienne Wenger and Nancy Whitecolleague on the fourth floor said: “I am so lucky, I am sitting in myoffice and listening to the microblogging session”. 14:00 in the oval room Emile Frison, Jean Francois Giovanetti, Rodney Cooke, Mark All the sessions were packed. And Holderness will talk about how can we social media played a great role. make agricultural innovation systems (AIS) Thanks to the fantastic social work for smallhoders? reporting, we connected with many people who could not make it to the 16:00 in the oval room Michel Payne- share fair and many colleagues who Knoper will give a keynote address on were unable to leave their offices. Empowerment through engagement: There was a lot of knowledge and Connecting farmers globally learning shared on the Twitter wall. 17:00 Find out more about some innovativeThanks to the social media integration on the webcasting we managed to devices and products at the Show and Tellbring the voices and excellent questions of people outside the room to the session in the atriumBill and Melinda Gates Foundation session. Make sure you visit the Art for AIDSEtienne Wenger’s keynote address International stunning art exhibit in theon communities of practice atrium and minus 1highlighted a number of key issues Get your dinner tickets for 28 September at(see Communities of Practice and the registration desk for Euro 10.strategic capabilities). Accordingto Etienne, communities ofpractices are a vehicle to develop PROGRAMME CHANGEstrategic capabilities within an Dgroups meeting 14:00-15:30 in roomorganization. He also underlined B100 and 16:00-17:00 in room C200how the discourse around knowledge sharing and CoPs needs to change Text to Change: Providing Bolivian farmersas too often we focus only on the operational level of knowledge sharing, commodity prices (54) will not take placeas opposed to a more strategic conversation about the domains where anorganization needs to excel, and the importance of creating space wherestaff can engage and develop those capabilities. Make sure you watch thePier Andrea Pirani’s interview with Etienne athttp://blog.sharefair.net/2011/09/share-fair-day-0-conversation-with.htmlAs we move to the second day of the Share Fair, we remind you toponder on a fundamental question - what is the value and impact of suchevents. We want to hear your views and we’ll do so at the closingceremony.
When money talksby Steven SchonbergerWe enjoyed a presentation on Monday by Sam Dryden and PrabhuPingali of the Gates Foundation’s revised strategy for supporting theagricultural sector. The presentation redefined scaling up for many of usas they described how the Gates Foundation grew their funding from $10million in 1994 to $40 billion in 2000 with more coming in 2006 fromWarren Buffet. Agriculture is being “modestly” funded to the tune ofUS$1.7 billion in grants, mostly to the CGIAR system for R&D, statisticsand policy, but increasingly to focused investments in countries incomplementary areas of technology adoption and marketing, particularlyin Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where food insecurity are mostpronounced.As a new, very well financed donor, Gates Foundation is managing thechallenges of high expectations in terms of addressing all of the issues ofagriculture and rural development from all perspectives. From thepresentations and ensuing online Q&A moderated by Kevin Cleaver(who took advantage of the opportunity to promote IFAD’s new StrategicFramework), it was clear that the organization of the Gates Foundationstrategy around productivity of key crops and livestock raises concernsregarding issues such as institutional capacity, natural resourcesmanagement, youth, partnerships with big agribusiness, etc. To the creditof Sam and Prabhu, they were clear that theirs is a work in progress as theFoundation’s engagement strategy evolves in terms of direct programwork at country level, knowledge management, results monitoring andeffective mainstreaming of cross-cutting agendas.And Kevin did a superb job of integrating questions that we got viaTwitter and Facebook. He indeed is a 21st century leader!By Etienne Wenger The opening session challenged the audience to approach "knowledge sharing" as a matter of developing strategic capabilities. This involves a paradox of social learning in organizations that most people attending ShareFair live in: their jobs place them in the tension between horizontal andvertical structures of accountability.Structures like communities of practice live in the horizontal dimension.To emphasize the personal aspect, Etienne started the session with ananalogy to his wedding. In the same way that a romantic relationshipevolves out of recognition of the other as a life partner, communities ofpractice evolve out of recognition of others as learning partners. Based onmutual engagement, these self-governed learning partnerships thrive onpersonal meaningfulness, passion for practice, and a commitment tosubstantive conversations. They allow people to act as “learningcitizens.” They depend on people who act as conveners. Those who aregood at opening social learning spaces are real “social artists.” Thesehuman qualities are the key ingredients.
Yet all this “horizontal stuff” takes place within and across organizationsthat have grown verticalized systems of accountability. Horizontal andvertical systems have traditionally existed side-by-side with littleintegration. This integration requires a new kind of conversation inorganizations. Knowledge sharing may be a misnomer for this aspiration.Knowledge sharing is too easily approached as an operational challenge.It is probably more useful to talk about the development of strategiccapabilities. Strategic alignment is traditionally a vertical challenge. Yetpractitioners are in the best position to develop strategic capabilities.Engagement in practice gives them key insights about what needs doingand improving. A community gives them a forum to reflect, learn, andthink strategically about their practice together. Talk of strategiccapabilities has a chance to connect the vertical and horizontalperspectives. If our community is about improving practice, we need tolearn how to engage our organizations in such strategic conversations.Gift gardenby Carl JacksonHow easy is it really hear and be heard by each other when wepassionately build ideas together? How can we speed up the process ofsynthesising knowledge created by large groups without losingconsensus? At the ShareFair at IFAD in Rome today it was great to beable to propose that the Gift Garden method can help on both thesepoints.Gift Garden is a method developed originally for an interactive sessionon climate adaptation for 80+ participants at a conference in Ethiopiaearlier this year. It brings together elements of large group facilitationfrom approaches including World Cafe and Open Space with playfulapproaches from Applied Improvisation. What is distinctive about theGift Garden method is that it enables large groups to build new ideasquickly, collaboratively and creatively drawing on individual experience.Sharing the method to today and running through the process with agroup of really generous and knowledgeable facilitators lead to newinsights and suggestions for improving the method. I’m always amazedhow despite the anxiety I feel sharing new ideas, how quickly people putone at ease and give of their own experience so selflessly. Today was noexception and the suggestions for strengthening the Gift Garden Methodincluded: What to do if you have a very vocal person? Maybe have butterfly role to include equitable participation Can you have multiple topics in the gift garden? Yes if you have more than one topic you can have just one round per topic as more topics provide opportunities for people to be both bees and butterflies It would be logical to use the ‘Yes And’ Rule for the report back sessions to and that would encourage even more synthesis – Great Idea! Maybe have post-its for each idea shared in report back and then add these to a big flower at the end of the session – nice idea but could be in tension with the idea of having lots of freedom to improvise as people will be thinking about what to write during the discussion sessions rather than actively listening to each other. Having equal numbers of butterflies to bees seems like it could be too much – on reflection it still seems a good idea as butterflies need to support each other to play the active facilitation role they are charged with (with few butterflies they may not feel empowered).
If you want to make the outcome of the Gift Garden more action oriented you can ask a more focused question at the report backs – like “What should we do next to move forward on the topic discussed?” The ‘Yes And’ rule experience: created a very positive atmosphere; challenged us to move beyond Yes But; showed how difficult but important active listening is; showed that silence in the discussion is positive as it allows time to reflect on what has been heard and respond in Yes And mode. How to move the discussion from the natural end of one set of ideas and the starting a new set without breaking the Yes And rule needs thinking through as not clear yet in the method. The Butterfly’s role needs to include actively asking Bees to repeat what was last said if they feel Bees are not actively listening or building on each others’ ideas. Butterflies moderating dominant speakers in Bee groups is a tough assignment. It would help to empower Butterflies to have a huddle of people in this role to share tips on how to facilitate and encourage huddling through out each round to compare notes and decide if an intervention is needed to get bees back on track. If someone really doesn’t want to be a butterfly then allow them to opt out, but don’t offer this up front as it may encourage people who just want to be Bees so they can push their ideas to take this option.LinkedIn and Facebook – Enablingdialogue and leveragingknowledgeBy Sarah Bel and Michael Riggs Social media on first glance may be thought of only as a technology, which leads to thoughts of training for skills and the need for analytics and data to support its use. However, this is really about communication, about engaging people and helping them to feel like they’reconnected to other people (not connected to machines!).We are more comfortable using these tools for our personal interactionsfor many reasons (familiarity, confidentiality and quality, resource limits,etc.), than for professional goals as evidenced by the simple“dotmocracy” chart created by the session participants [see photo].However, colleagues noted that these tools have a growing role in ourprofessional work.The session focused on how LinkedIn and Facebook are used by use bytwo organizations to support communities of practices for differentpurposes. Participants discussed the level of skill and time involved, tipsand tricks to successfully achieving organizational goals, and monitoringmethods that can be used with LinkedIn and Facebook.The session facilitators emphasized that a communication strategy needsto be developed, resources considered, and then social media toolsevaluated and matched. From the examples of LinkedIn use by ILO andFacebook use by the e-Agriculture team at FAO, it is clear that there is no“one size fits all” solution. However, social media is exciting and here tostay.