Let’s keep the Share Fair - #sfrome - spirit alive

Last night I had dinner with the organizers of the Global Youth Innovation Network and while eating, I could see their minds racing like an F1 car, thinking of all the things that needed to do, all those details that they needed to take care of. It reminded me of our state of mind two weeks ago as we were finalizing the preparations of the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair.

Organizing the Share Fair was a nine-month affair and our friend and UNDP colleague, Johannes Schunter, in his blogpost “What does it take to make the Share Fair happen? Don’t ask ‘what’, ask ‘who’! ", eloquently summarized the essence of what and who it takes to organize a share fair.

I can tell you that this nine-month affair meant many long days, many working weekends, many vacation days dedicated to organizing the share fair, many new bonds and friendships, many moments of joy, happiness and laughter and infinite satisfaction.

From the outset we committed to make the Share Fair an “out-of-the-box”, memorable and outward looking event. From the feedback we’ve received and are receiving, it looks like we managed to fulfill this commitment.

So who is this royal WE? The WE are the 690 participants, the 160 presenters, the army of social reporters, the many facilitators, the “share fair angels” - the volunteers, all those who worked behind the scenes and the Share Fair steering committee.

WE should go proud of orchestrating such a memorable event. And for our IFAD colleagues, as someone said, this was IFAD at is best. We should all go proud of this achievement - indeed a feather in IFAD’s hat.

I would add that this was knowledge sharing and breaking silos at its best as the share fair gave everyone an opportunity to learn from the knowledge and innovations of colleagues from the private sector, public sector agencies, NGOs, academics, think tanks, bilateral, multilateral and UN agencies.

For four days, the participants and the presenters created a special buzz and energy. For four days we saw lots of happy and smiling people. For four days we saw many people connecting, sharing and learning. For four days we saw IFAD meeting rooms packed with people.

For four days we saw people conducting meetings in alternative, creative and innovative ways. For four days we explored new ways of documenting and recording meetings - be it through graphic recording, via Twitter, blogs, videos, Facebook and pictures.

For four days we experienced first hand the power and potential of social media. For four days the Twitter wall took centre stage and kept everyone in the building abreast of what was going on in the numerous parallel session. For four days we did not see many suits and ties. For four days we benefitted from the wisdom and insights of four avant-garde thought leaders. In essence for four days we witnessed a unique metamorphosis. And WE LOVED it.

Thanks to the Share Fair’s remarkable social media presence the event went beyond the walls of IFAD and reached approximately 2.4 million people. 4500 people watched the various webcast and participated in the conversation and debate through social media channels. And we got the best questions came via Twitter and Facebook.

As one of the quotes on the Share Fair panels said: “Knowledge is like a garden; if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” The challenge now is to implement the many stimulating ideas we picked during the Share Fair and keep the spirit and vibrant buzz of the Share Fair alive. Recently I came across a quote from B. Fuller which really resonated with the Share Fair spirit and it goes: "You can't change anything by fighting or resisting it. You change something by making it obsolete through superior methods".

I hope WE can commit to put to practice the Share Fair “superior methods”.

Let’s commit to conduct our meetings differently, let’s commit to take advantage of the power and potential of social media.

Dare I say, let’s commit to take meeting minutes via Twitter and Storify them. Dare I say let’s commit to invite alternative keynote speakers such as Rob Burnet, Mark Davies, Etienne Wenger, Michele Payn-Knoper to IFAD-sponsored events. Dare I say let’s commit to change behaviours.

Let’s keep the Share Fair flame alive. Let's dare to do things differently!  Here comes the Share Fair revolution..... Let's overthrow status quo!!!