Most of us want to be part of an interesting, engaging and successful meeting where, as the dust settles and participants get back at their work stations, there is a general feeling of being empowered and energized as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by long discussions that lack follow-up plans. This was the feeling of participants in the 2012 International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Partnership and Communications meeting.
Between 24 to 26 January, our Knowledge Management and Information Systems (KMIS), Public Awareness (PA), Resource Mobilization (RM) and Capacity Strengthening (CaST) teams from Nairobi, Addis Ababa, New Delhi and Hanoi gathered in Addis Ababa to review 2011 results and plans for 2012. The meeting discussed ongoing changes in the CGIAR, how to improve communication strategies to meet funding objectives and ways to enhance teamwork and internal communication.
Bruce Scott, director of Partnerships and Communications at ILRI opened the meeting highlighting the department’s 2011 successes and pointing to challenges in managing institutional communication in “a complex new environment where a large percentage of ILRI’s research must respond to the CRP’s and outline strategic institutional priorities in 2012.”
One highlight of this year’s meeting was the meeting facilitation, which guided discussion and help to focus conversation. Led by Ewen Le Borgne, Knowledge Sharing and Communication Specialist, who used creative techniques to draw the most from participants, open space discussions, face-to-face engagements, speed sharing and world cafes forums allowed the team to analyse successes, past challenges and to set goals for the future. This process enabled participants to map out topics, clarify ongoing activities and set goals for 2012 and to come up with specific steps to achieve these goals.
A hands-on open session on 25 January – where participants learned about the different tools used for communication at ILRI – was especially popular. Participants learned from one another how best to use Wikis, Mahider, the ILRI website, video, Yammer and Twitter, Blogging, Photofilms and Slideshare to drive communication and knowledge sharing within the institute.
Among the key achievement of the meeting was an agreement on 7 key areas that the Partnerships and Communications team will focus on in 2012. These are, communication in the CRP’s environment, internal institutional communication, branding, resource mobilization, engaging with the wider livestock community, partnerships and inputs to the ILRI strategic processes. The meeting concluded by participants providing details on ‘how to’ achieve the expectations for each of the outlined areas and setting timelines.
Evelyn Katingi (ILRI) and Paul Karaimu (ILRI)