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Processes not objectives

Great Aikido class last Monday. We had to do several techniques in a row. Each one was well known like Ikkio, Shiho nage, Irimi nage and Kote gaeshi.

But the big difference was in the fact that we had to do three of them in a row. This helped a lot in trying not to focus too much on the final result, the projection of uke, but more on the flowing of the techniques, on the process itself. We had to “feel” it in depth, in tasting each and every second and step of the process, to better the sensation of the contact itself.

Tamura Sensei explaining irimi nage

I found it extremely positive because too many times we are so focused on the final result that we forget to enjoy the steps to get to it. So doing we loose too much. We loose most of what we are doing every day.

Staying with your uke during the long time necessary to do three techniques in a row gives you the possibility of having a long contact, perceive changes in uke’s attitudes and reactions, feel different kind of strangth at different times. As a final result you can have a better, deeper and longer sensation and gain more experience from what you are doing.

Our Sensei always repeats: “Stay there! Stay in touch with your uke and create a better contact: feel it as much as possible”. Does this work for aikido only or does it apply also to other aspects of our life? I think the second is the right answer.


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Judging for the FRI’s Scriptwriting Competition

Last week I started a new curious activity: I’m part of the judging panel of the scriptwriting competition on Smallholder Farmer Innovation launched last summer by Farm Radio International.

Actually we are in the phase one of the evaluation process: over 70 scripts were received by FRI and 58 of them passed the initial screening. They have been divided up so each judge got 9 or 10 scripts to review. We now have to go through these entries and select our top 4 or 5 (based on a common judging criteria score sheet). These top 4 or 5 will then proceed to the second round where every judge will review all of the scripts.

More about the competition during the next weeks when I’ll have a better idea on the entries.


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CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE

CHANGE seems to be the KEY word all over the world these days.

FAO dialogue of the Reform processAt FAO, two main events just took place last week. The Organization is undertaking a deep and serious process of internal restructuring. After the IEE (Independent External Evaluation) report, which suggested many and different changes in the strategy, the approach and the structure, now it is time for implementation. It will officially start after the approval of the action plan by the member states, late this November. As you can see in the picture, all of us were invited to attend a presentation meeting organized by the Senior management to illustrate the guidelines of the FAO Reform.

Cultural Change TeamAt the same time, in parallel and due to this process, a new ad-hoc tool to promote change has been created in the house: the “Culture Change Team” is in charge of taking care of this change-of-mentality process. The first public appearance was the convocation of a voluntary gathering called Open House session, which I attended last Tuesday.

The meeting was very informal and easy, with a short introduction of the Team, which is composed by 15 people, both from headquarters and Regional offices. Second step consisted in an invitation to comment and complement in a proactive way the draft list of vision statements prepared by the Team. Lastly, a longer World Cafe session allowed people to gather in small groups of 5/6 persons to discuss for some 25 minutes how we would like the culture of FAO to be. Each group’s final report was publicly illustrated to the assembly.Cultual Change Team

In the meanwhile, the issues of change, reform and new culture are being addressed more and more also in the web Forum on the Intranet which is, I think, a good sign of commitment and willingness by people involved in the process.

Still, scepticism persists. It is clear and widespread. The question “Is this the real time for change?” came clearly out during the presentation meeting. Again TRUST came out to be the fundamental factor upon which collaboration is built. If people do not trust the leaders, than their actions, whatever they are, will be unlikely to be successful. In this regard, I can say that many colleagues, not “trusting” this trend, choose not to join the presentation meeting which had been organized by the Senior management to illustrate the guidelines of the FAO Reform.

The FAO culture people wantTo me, this need of reorganization is deeply connected to a wider change the entire world faced in the last decades, where two key factors mainly changed: transportation and communication. In my vision, in a world where space and time ceased to be strong barriers, an international organization committed to eradicate hunger and poverty in the framework of the United Nations, as FAO is, and which is fundamentally based on knowledge to achieve its goals, has to find in the worldwide scenario a completely different role from the past. In my opinion, it has to move from “supporting” Governments in the management of development activities, to “facilitating” the interaction between Governments and local/regional/international actors to work jointly on development projects.

ChangeIn a nutshell, in the future I see FAO as a facilitator of processes, at local level, and as a supervisor for strategies, at regional and international level.

As a consequence, the range of activities, skills, tools, methodologies and even type of knowledge the organization has to use have necessarily to change considerably in the near future.


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Define your target group and its needs

Starting a new online community is a hard job. Before doing anything else, I always suggest to ACCESS your TARGET AUDIENCE. Spend your time on this exercise because it is very, very important. This is one of the key to avoid further problems. It is the prerequisite to analyze the needs of your future users and find the best way to address them. If you want more suggestions about it do Lesson 2.1 of the IMARK e-learning module on Building online communities.

After that, it is much easier to verify the NEEDS of the group. If you know what kind of people you want to address then you can discover their needs. And this is the best way to create a useful service and a long life community.

We have to start from people’s practice, from their habits, from watching what is going on among potential members. We have to discover who they really are and what they need. In this way, it is easier to understand what kind of use they do of a network and understand the key of success.

Then, we can think about consolidating the system and make it grow. Not before. Relationships among users have to be real and well established before thinking about enlarging the volume and the possibilities of a network. The chart describe this process:

Correct approach

On the contrary, most of the people willing to create a new network are focused on the idea itself. Their will to make it real is so strong that they loose contact with their potential group of users and do not focus on their needs. The focus is on “planning” rather than on the “practice”.

As a consequence the group has very few possibilities to grow and be successful and is likely to be abandoned pretty soon after its creation. The managers spend their time thinking and not watching what’s going on. They tend to be sure that their creature will be accepted by the end users but this is not sure at all. In this case, the risk that the process of consolidation does not take place is very strong. If users are not so fascinated by the new network, they won’t repeat their experience and the new “house” will be empty in a while. Consolidation of the relationships among members won’t take place and the network will fail pretty soon.

Wrong approach

So, the lessons learned are:

  • Observe people and their habits;
  • Assess your group;
  • Assess people’s needs;
  • Spend time on creating relationship among users.