On 1 September 2011, Peter Ballantyne officially joined ILRI as the KMIS Manager and will lead the teams in Nairobi and Addis from his office in the ILRI Addis campus.
One of the first things Peter did on arrival in Addis was to encourage all the KMIS teams to join others on the Yammer communication site (www.yammer.com). So now, everyone is sending less email and doing more yammering. That way, we also know what other team members are doing or thinking of doing on any given day!
Peter’s vision for the team is that everyone will unlock and open up their knowledge: “There’s a lot of knowledge happening here at ILRI. What we need is to open this up – as much as possible without adding any extra burdens on the organization and the people … my vision is to make sure that knowledge is put in the hands of people that can use it.”
He asserts that networking, connecting, and plugging in is crucial to let knowledge and information flow both ways. He believes that we need to be open to learn from our partners on the ground as much as they will learn from us. He adds: “as knowledge and information brokers, we need to serve as a kind of bridge, spreading knowledge and at the same time bringing people together. We help to glue the unconnected, useful, valuable things happening, aiming to break down barriers.”
Peter believes we are also well-suited in Addis to work on cross-centre learning and sharing, we need to capitalize on ILRI’s being a CG hub.
On ILRI Addis being a CG hub, he thinks that ILRI Addis can be cited as a model for the new CG, and as such it is an ideal testing ground for knowledge sharing and innovation within the system.
In the short-term, Peter and his team are working closely with Nairobi PA colleagues to quickly give the ILRI website a facelift, promoting more open knowledge flows and re-using content from different sources. He also wants to see a complete, open and dynamic repository containing all ILRI’s outputs (books, reports, articles, photos, etc) up and running. He also plans to promote the systematic use of Social Media for knowledge sharing at ILRI.
In case you are wondering how Peter is so well-versed on CG-ILRI priorities and KM needs, you are right, Peter does have a CG background. He worked at the former ISNAR until about 10 years ago, when he moved to the NGO and development sector. Since then, he has still kept in touch with the CG through consultancy work in the past 4 to 5 years. Peter was also part of the team that conducted the ILRI Information Services CCER in 2008. For the last 10 years, Peter worked in Information, Knowledge, and Communication mostly in development organizations that work on policy and practice; his last assignment with DFID Research looked at its plans to introduce an open access policy for the research it funds.
He is excited to move to ILRI, and is especially impressed by the way it seems to combine both a research base and more direct work with change bringers. Compared to where he was in Holland, he says that: “ILRI works on issues closer to daily life in Africa, Asia and other developing regions. Livestock is a large part of African life, so to speak.” He is keen to take up the many opportunities to contribute to this through knowledge, communication and information: “There are lots of interesting and practical things happening here.”