Major meetings as entry points for knowledge sharing: a case from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
Annual meetings are a long-standing tradition in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and an essential tool by which the international centres supported by the CGIAR plan and review their work. As centres have decentralised their operations, the costs of these events have grown, so both managers and staff have begun seeking ways to extract greater returns from the increased investment in international travel and staff time. One alternative is to exploit the opportunities that annual meetings and workshops offer for testing and demonstrating the value of knowledge sharing (KS) approaches. The idea is to move away from conventional presentations and plenary discussions to a dynamic process of face-to-face communication that is more effective at promoting KS.
Managers and staff of four CGIAR centres explored this alternative through pilot initiatives in which they used a variety of KS approaches, including Open Space, Peer Assists, After Action Reviews, Knowledge Fairs and collaborative tools, specifically Dgroups and an online meeting planner. Special attention was given to the crucial role of group facilitation and the need for modernizing management systems and practices. This paper, based on the authors’ experience and participants’ evaluations of the pilot initiatives, outlines the approaches developed by two of the four centres, describes the challenges they faced, and draws some conclusions about future directions.
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