Should IFAD become a learning organization?

Should IFAD become a learning organization? Are we effectively sharing the learning emerging from our activities across regions, internally and externally? These are some of the questions that Cristina Sparacino - IFAD's Oprah Winfrey - will be posing to IFAD colleagues.

Today, at IFAD we are hosting a mini knowledge share fair to share the highlights of IFAD-funded projects and programme (better known as IFAD project portfolio) and discuss the challenges and opportunities for 2011 portfolio.

What triggered this event was the realization that we are producing quite a number of "knowledge products". However, these products are of different quality, some are adding value to the overall development discourse, while others may be lagging a bit behind. We also know that these outputs are not always widely shared to trigger learning and generate knowledge.

If we want to expand our horizons and learn from others, we need to look beyond our own horizons and learn about what is happening in the bigger world.

Now, "the bigger world" is relative, it can be the entire development world, or the colleague sitting in the next office. What we're noticing is that we do not necessarily know what everyone is working on and what challenges colleagues are facing. So what is happening is that there are times that we end up reinventing the wheel. When we face a challenge, our prime preoccupation is to overcome it and just get on with it. This is perhaps our Achilles Heal because we do not take the necessary time to ask around and find out if others were confronted with a similar challenge and how did they go overcoming it.

Experience shows us that when we organize learning and sharing events we get an overwhelming response. This means that while we are all keen to learn and share, we do not seem to make it quite a "way of life". Our role as KM/KS facilitators is to create that enabling environment and encourage colleagues to come out of their offices and share their gems and nuggets.

The mini knowledge share fair aims to do exactly that, and do it in a fun way. We'll kick off with an overview of the 2010 portfolio, highlighting the lessons and what we need to do more of and better in 2011. We'll then have a chat show discussing "should IFAD become a learning organization". And then we'll open the market place.

At the market place we have a chill-out corner, where Thomas Rath and Roberto Haudry will share the back-story of why their projects received highest possible rating and will answer to your questions.

Colleagues will alternate at the speaker's corner discussing issues such as Will climate change kill the fisheries and aquaculture sector? and what are the gender dimensions of value chain?

In the Show and tell corner, participants will be able navigate the Globalremittance gateway and track who sends money where, navigate land rights on the web, learn more about innovative approaches to documenting gender in Latin America and the Caribbean, find out how IFAD has built the capacity of pro-poor institutions and learn about Rural Finance Learning Centre. In this corner, colleagues can familiarize themselves with the operations application alphabet soup: PPMS, RIMS, PLF, PSR. Learn about the treasures stored in these applications and learn about the system that keeps track of money and helps them have less headaches, reduces the number of emails and phone calls.

Participants while touring the market place can stop to watch a selection of IFAD-produced videos featuring the people we work for and with or go on a virtual tour and visit where IFAD works by experiencing the power and potential of Geographic Information System and Google Maps. They can also go behind what meets the eye and see how national and international media cover rural development, agriculture, food security, gender-related issues.

In the knowledge sharing corner, participants have an opportunity to learn about ‘capitalization’ or knowledge capturing methodology and see how ‘capitalization’ is put into practice, learn how to conduct an open space or a peer assist.

We dedicated a corner to talk about the value and potential of social media, where colleagues can experience first-hand how social media channels are used as knowledge sharing tool.

In the process corner, will be discussing where does the knowledge emanating from our global and regional grants end up? Who is using this knowledge? And how does this knowledge inform new global and regional grants? And last but not least, in the publications corner we have on display all the publications produced in 2010.

As one of the organizers, I am looking forward to have a fun day. We'll be tweeting - so follow #sharefair - and will also be blogging. So tune back in.

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