DevelopmentArt: clipart for use in global development contexts

Example image from DevelopmentArtIn my graphic faciltiation work, people often ask for sources of ideas for visuals. Often, when we search on the web, we find a lot of North American/European looking materials. Now there is DevelopmentArt! Check it out!

DevelopmentArt has a collection of copyright-free, downloadable, publication-quality line drawings, drawn by professional artists in Asia and Africa. Select the topic you want, browse through the thumbnails, click on the picture you want, and download it to your own computer. It’s free. All we ask is that if you use a picture, please credit the original artist or the publication it came from.

DevelopmentArt collects artwork (mainly line drawings), asks for copyright permission, and makes it available to others: extension workers, development organizations, and the like. We have a large collection, which we’re gradually scanning and putting on this site.

You can also find links to artists who can develop work just for your project!

Fish Bowling, Solo Galaxies and Free Writing in Holland

Note: I’m working a back log of “draft posts” that have yet to see the light of day. This is one from my trip to the Netherlands in December!)

Just a quick post from the Netherlands where I’ve been working with the fabulous Marc Coenders on an evaluation project for ICCO and it’s ComPart “project.” It has been lovely to work with the Compart team of Maarten Boers, Pier Adrea Pirani and Pete Cranston (the last two from Euforic Services and old KM4Dev pals.) It was a bit like “old home week” to use an American expression. The work has been fascinating, intense and challenging. The key word that keeps coming to me is fractal. Just when we get to one moment of understanding, things tilt just a bit and a new pattern slips in shifting things again. This is great for meaning making, not so great for finishing an evaluation report! 😉 It reminds us that we are working in a complex environment and if we are to succeed, we have to work with emergence. (See Peggy Holman’s terrific book, Engaging Emergence). We expect to be able to share the evaluation early in 2011 after the team has had time to absorb the findings!

As a little “side benefit,” Maarten Boers of ICCO hosted a borrel, or gathering for the knowledge sharing/KM/social media types in the area at the end of the day, some from my dear old KM4Dev network. It had been a long and intense day of meetings, plus silly me managed to catch quite a bad cold, complete with fever, etc. So I was really pushing my physical limits.

We planned a Fish Bowl for the borrel focusing on the interplay between organiztional change and technology, springing off of the evaluation work at ICCO with their “ComPart way of working.” I was greatful to be able to mostly listen from the outside of the fish bowl and took copious notes, some of which I’ll put below.

But I have to say, there were a few funny, wonderful moments when we, most of whom were working both in a second language and from a very tired state, misheard things and we created something new (and funny) out of it.

  • What about “solo galaxies,” misheard from “solidarity.” Earlier in the day I was taking notes on the flip chart and I thought, hm, what a unique thing. Did that mean someone was really working in isolation, a “one star galaxy?”
  • We have the fish bowl method, but what comes to mind when you say “fish bowling?” Who is bowling? Are the fish the pins? My visual imagination went crazy.
  • Later during the conversation I brought up the concept of “free riding” in networks and communities and how do we distinguish this from legitimate peripheral participation. Some one wanted to know what writing had to do with it and wasn’t free writing good for getting past writer’s block?

I love this stuff.

Anyway, here are the notes — there are some terrific one-liners. I apologize for not catching who said what, nor for having a list of participants. Not such great network weaving on my part!

On December 9th a group of practitioners joined up at ICCO’s headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands for an informal borrel (drinks) and conversation about the interaction between organizational change and technology. We used a “Samoan circle” variation of the fishbowl process, starting with ICCO’s ComPart team (originators of a new way of working and a wiki-centric platform of tools) sitting with evaluator and learning consultant, Marc Coenders. As the other evaluator, I (Nancy White) started on the outside and took very random notes… these are far from complete or fully accurate, but reflect the things that caught my interest. And of course the notes reflect nothing I said when I stepped into the fish bowl. Heh!

  • Disruption <–> Opportunity
  • ComPart’s original motivation – learning networking, but that wasn’t actually where things went
  • Learning can bring discomfort (my question, do we make that discomfort visible and discussable?)
  • “It is good if you like a lovely, really rocky ride” Pete Cranston
  • Introducing a suite of web 2 tools is different than when we introduced email into our organizations. yet both changed our organizations.  With Compart and web2, tools are always/quickly evolving. Faster, more complex vortex of change as tools impact organizations and organizations shape tools.
  • Some teams took to the ComPart way – “just flew” – others did not (Why?)
  • Start with need or start with tool exposure and find needs? (or both?)
  • “No one is waiting for tools” and “everyone is waiting for a solution” and “if you don’t know what a wiki is and how to use it, you won’t ask for it.”
  • Finding the balance between the polarity of “demand” and “offer.”
  • The organizational level is too big and generalized to be the locus for focus. (Locus focus? Hocus pocas? Yes, I was tired.)
  • The beginning of ComPart showed possibilities more broadly. Now need to narrow.
  • What are the cost/benefits with respect to tool and process adoption?
  • People like to ask a colleague how to use a new tool.
  • Impact of new tools and processes spread beyond the actual users
    • what is the ‘ripple’ impact?
    • is this a form of ‘legitimate peripheral participation?’
    • is this a form of free riding? (Tragedy of the commons)
    • what does technological peripheral participation look like? Do for people?
    • is this related to the problem of “you do this for me” or “we do this for us”?
    • what is obligation of employer?
  • Point to ODI’s six functions of a network.
  • How do we take into account the expense/value of facilitation (budget)?
    • rhythm of pumping the “knowledge heart beat”
    • mandate (which people resist) and voluntary (which people deprioritise)
    • is “particpation” just more jargon these days?
  • To take seriously, and to seriously involve.
  • Mandatory stuff –> unconcious, power politics, fragmentation
  • Face the truth sooner when things are/aren’t working and respond versus sticking to your plan.
    • Do NGOs do this less often than businesses?
  • Go where there is interest.
  • Role of leadership – walk the talk, model collaboration. If leadership does not have comfort wading into new tools and practices, not likely organization will fully move tere.
  • Lack of clarity of what our “partners” really need or want, all the while we talk about putting them i the center.
    • In the ComPart learning history, it was noted that in the early days it was difficult to even get names of partners to contact.
    • Negotiating with internal/external boundaries is tricky
  • How do we relate internal learning networks to external related networks?
    • tap into existing communities before creating own
    • intrinsic value of both inside and outside communities, but caution of overload and overlap
  • Individuals often have their own “eccentric” routings to get to knowledge that are useful for them, but foreign to others and hard to share w/ others.
    • how they negotiate boundaries is also individual
  • What is the role here for network weaving?
  • “Empherality is ok”
  • personal and professional motivation
  • What if ICCO celebrated the learning that came from the “inssurection” of ComPart?
    • “inovation always starts bottom up” (the guy in the blue sweater)
    • sooner or later management gets involved for positive or negative reasons
    • that’s how organizations learn
  • How to recognize when we are “in over our heads” and not make wrong headed moves
  • Watch for experiments that are “too high risk”
  • “Most ICT programs fail due to lack of user participation and lack of WIFM (whats in it for me)/motivation

Harvesting knowledge from text conversations

Km4Dev wiki screenshotThis is the second in my latest series of online facilitation method tips and mini-podcasts. John Smith asked me to write up the practice some of us have been nurturing on the KM4DevWiki to encourage summarizing and harvesting of learnings from key community conversations in our email list on to a wiki. The podcast can be found here.

There are often amazing threads on email lists and web based discussions. Often they get lost due to the tyranny of recency over relevancy. We remember what we last read. How many times have you heard people say “hey, we discussed that before… where IS that conversation?” Some tools make it easy to search within message, but then you have to reconstruct a thread. There may have had subject line changes, interruptions, etc. It is hard work. That’s why it is useful think about practices to pull out useful stuff so it can provide wider and easier benefit.

One practice of harvesting learnings from text based discussions (in email or web forums) started as a small FAQ (frequently asked questions) project a small group of use did a couple of years ago as part of the KM4Dev community. KM4Dev is a global community of practice interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing in international development.

We initially intended to create FAQ’s out of key discussions to answer what we thought were some of the “big questions” that often came up in the community. You can read about the project at the following links.

What we discovered was that often something wasn’t simply a response to a question, so the FAQ format started to limit us. We moved into harvesting what we called “Community Knowledge.” This is the basis of the technique I know use regularly.

Now, on the the technique. (Did I say these were going to be short? I guess I goofed on that!)

  1. Role model the harvesting behavior. Our initial FAQs gave people the chance to experience discussion summaries. But the next step was to role model it around current discussions. At first we would notice a “hot thread,” summarize it then post the wiki url back to the email list.
    • Templates can make it easier/more comfortable for people new to summarization and/or wikis.
    • Cross promote the wiki on the list to keep it in the community “line of sight.”
  2. Ask others to try the behavior. Next we started asking people to create and post their own summaries of discussion threads that they started.
    • asking in a private email is friendlier, but sometimes the public request can add some useful “pressure.”
  3. Time the request well. Usually we made the request for summarization after we saw a thread really get going — and hopefully near the end of the thread.
    • I have made the mistake of suggesting that the thread be summarized too soon and people took that as a “stop talking” signal.
  4. Expect resistance. (And I’m tempted to say “resistance is futile, but that’s not really true!) Initially people did not summarize. So I would set up a wiki page for them, send them the url and another small request. (I think I started signing my emails from “wikipest.”) Some people would then summarize and post to the wiki, and some would send me the summary to post. That was fine.
    • Reminders are often useful. I do wonder if I annoyed some times…
  5. Encourage those who adopt the practice. After about a year, others started recommending a summaries to starters of hot threads. So the initial part of the practice was being picked up by others. More people were creating pages, but it was still a very limited group.
    • Don’t expect miracles
    • Do thank those wonderful souls who will do this important community work.
  6. Make the value visible. Last year we had the need to review our technical platforms and lo and behold, the wiki was getting more page views that the community’s older, established content management based site. This validated that people were finding and in some way, interested in what we had harvested. I believe this external validation helped motivate and maintain the practice.
    • Share stories of use
    • Make pageview data available
    • If the wiki has been useful beyond the community, get the other users to send a thank you as well.
  7. Reduce barriers and support from the side. Some of us still have to go in and link pages to the index page.
    • We have had to require registration for the wiki due to wiki-spam, which creates some friction and overhead – it is not as easy as I wish it were.
    • The wiki still needs a lot of overall attention to make things easier to find. (That is on my to do list – and has been for a long time. )

All in all, the practice is valued. We are making our knowledge visible and available to the wider world and inviting them to help improve it. There are 76 entries. The entries on knowledge sharing tools and methods have been spread and reused by members’ parent organizations. Value has been amplified. I think it was worth it!

For more on harvesting:

Latest KM4D Journal – KM in Latin America

The latest KM4Development Journal is live on the web, this time with a focus on knowledge work in Latin America. I am a little surprised, because somehow I thought it would be in Spanish. I’m not sure why I thought that, but I did. In any case, I’m personally grateful they are in English for my reading pleasure, but I sure think it would be great to translate this edition (part 1 of 2) into Spanish. What do you think?

Here is the table of contents and links…

Vol 3, No 2 (2007)Knowledge sharing and knowledge management in Latin America and the Caribbean (Part I)

Table of Contents


Editorial: Knowledge sharing and knowledge management in Latin America and the Caribbean (Part I)


Margarita Salas, Kemly Camacho, Simone Staiger-Rivas, Camilo Villa, Julie Ferguson, Sarah Cummings2-4


Institutionalizing learning in rural poverty alleviation initiatives


Irene Guijt, Julio Berdegué, German Escobar, Eduardo Ramírez5-20
Resource centres set the tone for learning in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector


Ewen Le Borgne, Carlos Talavera, Aleida Martinez, Gerardo Martinez, Gustavo Heredía, Erma Uytewaal21-37
Knowledge management for agricultural innovation within the Bolivian Agricultural Technology System: insights from the analysis of rural knowledge networks


Frank Hartwich, Mario Monge Pérez, Luis Ampuero Ramos, José Luis Soto38-51
Building small-scale farmers learning networks: Pachamama Raymi as an innovative knowledge management system


Javier Cabero, Willem van Immerzeel52-63

Case Studies

Knowledge sharing for good in a Europe-Latin American perspective: the VIT@LIS experience



Fabio Nascimbeni64-73
Investing in knowledge for evidence-based social policies for children: two case-studies of knowledge dissemination initiatives in the Eastern Caribbean


Koen Rossel-Cambier, Tom Olsen, Niloufar Pourzand74-78
Knowledge management to connect and strengthen people’s capacities in Latin America


Arthur van Leeuwen, Annemieke Beekmans, Reintje van Haeringen85-94
Knowledge management: a key factor for productive chain evolution in the department of Cauca, Colombia. A case study of the fishing chain network


Paola Andrea Victoria, Luz Stella Pemberthy, Natalia Maya95-104