What feels like a long time ago and far far away, Rachel Cardone of Red Thread Advisors, Aldo de Moore of Community Sense and I decided to wrestle with some questions that were cropping up across our diverse work. We kept having clients say “we want to collaborate with our distributed teams,” and “what software should we buy.” Time and again, we saw so many of these initiatives fizzle out. It was our sense that we needed to look at the problem differently, with an appreciation for complexity and the diverse contexts across large international development organizations. That really interesting things were happening on the edges, but they didn’t seem to penetrate deeply into the organizations.
Thanks to some support from IFAD (thanks, Helen!), we had some seed money to begin thinking together, along with friends/volunteers from five development organizations (listed below). What resulted is the following paper from the KM4Dev Journal.
Learning 3.0: collaborating for impact in large development organizations
Nancy White, Rachel Cardone, Aldo de Moor
This discussion paper builds on the body of research and practice about technology stewardship originally explored in Digital Habitats, and on the findings from an initial probe into the experiences of five development agencies using collaboration platform technologies. The probe was conducted from September 2013 through February 2014. We propose a framework for looking at productive practices in selecting, configuring and supporting use of collaboration technologies in international development organizations by focusing on the opportunities that exist in the boundaries between different parts of a development organization and different kinds of interactions that lead to learning and development impact. We suggest that there is a very useful opportunity to expand this initial probe using collaboration pattern language and a complexity lens to develop a useful repertoire of technology stewarding practices for collaboration in international development with the goal of supporting greater impact of development work.
via KM4Dev Journal.
This snippet gives a bit of the context for the action learning agenda:
We worked with key staff from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Oxfam International, German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), the World Bank Institute, the UN Development Programme (UNDP – special thanks to the ever enthusiastic Johannes Schunter!), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Our objective was to determine if common patterns or dynamics exist across international development organizations that could suggest models, approaches or methods organizations could use to increase value for money when making investment decisions in support of collaboration. We drew on the collective experience of our action research partners, and our own experiences working to establish, advise and manage collaboration technology platforms. Through a series of discussions, we developed an analysis of the contextual factors relevant to the international development sector.
You can find the full text PDF here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!