From 2 to 6 July, the project teams from Jharkhand and Rajasthan in India and from Mozambique gathered in Udaipur for a reflection and learning workshop. The objective of the workshop was to share project progress and approaches across the two countries, to distill learning on processes and outcomes thus far and to identify potential communication products and develop a strategy around these.
Communication support has been essential for this event and will remain critical for the rest of the project. Three ILRI communications staff attended the meeting: Tezira Lore (communication officer for the project, based in Nairobi), Kara Brown (communication intern) from the ILRI Delhi office and Ewen Le Borgne (knowledge sharing and communication specialist) from the ILRI Addis Ababa office.
Before and during the workshop the communication team provided the following services:
- Preparing the organization of the workshop with the coordination team;
- Preparing the workshop pages on the wiki and documenting all sessions on the workshop agenda on the wiki (with one page per session);
- Carrying out some interviews with workshop participants and blogging about it (see interview of Dr. Hegde, forthcoming interview of Ann Braun, Outcome Mapping consultant);
- Taking pictures of participants and saving them on a dedicated FlickR set;
- Reviewing, every day, opportunities about communication work raised in the discussions;
- Organizing a session on communication work so far and another one on developing a communication plan for the next six months.
After the workshop, communication support will likely entail:
- Helping the teams develop their ideas for communication products;
- Reviewing and copy-editing these outputs;
- Formatting the outputs according to standard ILRI design and layout guidelines;
- Channelling all outputs in the appropriate IMGoats collection on the common repository Mahider;
- In parallel, and crucially, supporting the proper engagement process in innovation platforms and within the teams.
This approach highlights the importance of working with the communication team early on. Indeed, the earlier and the more consistently communication specialists work on a project, the more likely a) each and every formal output is available, accessible and understandable, b) processes are documented and shared to inform planning and reporting on a regular basis, c) all internal staff and external partners are aware of the project progress, process and outputs and feel part of a larger whole, d) conversations (both online and offline in e.g. workshops and conferences, but also team and innovation platform meetings) are well prepared, facilitated and documented to ensure everyone feels listened to and can find traces of these conversations for future work.
Involving the communication team late requires a lot of extra work for everyone, work that could be better used for solving the original objectives of the project and for trying to reach some impact.
All workshop outputs are publicly available:
- Notes from all sessions on the project wiki;
- Updates on the project blog;
- Pictures from the workshop.