IFAD Annual Report 2011: the inside story – domestic duties and Harry Potter

Some people say that professional publishing is like keeping a house clean. When you do it all perfectly, nobody notices. Everything is as it should be. But when you make one little mistake, overlook some dust on a high shelf or forget to polish grubby fingerprints off the full-length mirror, everybody spots it.
AR2011 cover photo: the bus to market in Molondo, Mali  ©Amadou Keita

Pulling together IFAD’s Annual Report is a bit like cleaning a many-roomed mansion and getting it smart enough for viewing. The task is complicated by the fact that the rooms are inhabited by many different kinds of people, with their own furniture, habits and styles. Also, the mansion has some similarities to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. As Percy Weasley says in one of the films, “Keep an eye on the staircases – they like to change”.

Just under 40 focal points worked on the 2011 IFAD Annual Report and many of them, like me, have done so for many years. Maybe they too have the same visceral response to the phrase “It’s that time of year again”.

As AR coordinator, my job is to help the focal points and the divisions they represent make the most of their rooms in the mansion – to explain why their work is important and to spotlight their results. We take their texts and information, trim and polish a little, and bring them all together in a coherent whole.

Unlike Harry Potter and his friends, we don’t wave any magic wands to get the job done. Instead we use hard work and rigorous (sometimes pedestrian) procedures to draft and redraft texts and check and recheck facts and figures. And we rely on the goodwill and cooperation of our colleagues across the organization.

Here I’d like to say a big “Thank You” to AR focal points past and present! There would be no report without you.

The Annual Report has always been about accuracy, and that’s why lots of people inside and outside the organization turn to it when they need reliable figures and information. Guaranteeing accuracy in four languages is the task of another team of people: the production manager, the copy-editor, the sub-editor, the translators, the revisers, the layout designers, the proofreaders. Not to mention some very special focal points who provide the figures in the first place and help us double and triple check them.

Come mid to late June every year, we’re ready to throw open the doors and launch the latest report. 2011 is my 8th Annual Report. It’s a whole lot neater, shorter and more readable than the 2004 edition and this year, for the first time, we’ve also done the Highlights, in just 12 pages. It’s like the floor plan, if you will, of the mansion.

But there’s always room for improvement. Please fill in our readership survey and tell us what you like and what you think we could do better.