Coming up with a social media strategy for your work can be scary. “Where do I start, and what tools do I use?” are two good questions to start with. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and set up a Facebook page and twitter account, and quickly get lost in the details of retweets, “likes”, and followers. But what about the big picture? Is this helping you reach your goals? And how do you convince your boss that managing social media is time well spent? Read more…
One of my most memorable and formative professional experiences was a 2008 Knowledge Sharing Workshop, sponsored by the CGIAR ICT-KM program (the Knowledge Management support unit of the network of International Agricultural Research centers I still work with).
In early 2008, I had just embarked on a new project to help build and support an online community of practice for Payments for Environmental Services in Africa, and the workshop could not have come at a better time. The workshop included training in different tools (e.g., blogging, social bookmarking, RSS feeds) and methods for workshop facilitation, social network mapping, and more . It also gave us an opportunity to develop a project with ongoing peer feedback and expert guidance from our facilitators.
Both the online and face to face components were excellent, and really helped me move my project along (it’s still going strong!). It also kick-started my career in this field, helping me realized how much I enjoy this kind of work, and linking me with a network that I’m still in touch with today.
Three years later, one of the workshop facilitators, Simone Staiger, has interviewed five of the original participants (including myself) about the impact of that workshop.
You can read more about the workshop including descriptions of the processes used, content summaries, and evaluations at the ICT-KM site. We even published a paper about the workshop: Learning to share knowledge for global agricultural progress.
What does it take to make change? This question fascinates me, and never fails to get people talking. Some people believe that change — for a better world — comes from the powerful. Things need to be changed from inside the system. These change leaders often go into politics, or law, or into the corporate world, to shape the policies and practices that ultimately shape society. Others believe change comes from the outside, and see themselves as activists for the greater good, bringing truth to power, putting pressure on the system, and rallying society to also push for change. Others feel that change comes from knowledge. Only by seeking the truth, the scientific truth, can you achieve understanding, and only through understanding our world, can we begin to change it. In reality, all these beliefs are correct. Change comes from everywhere and everyone. But the world can get a bit chaotic when everyone has something to say. People speak different languages (KiSwahili, French…scientific, political…global, local), and have very different value systems. What’s often missing is a bridge, to help bring together these different knowledges and values, and eventually produce some kind of new knowledge that’s more widely valid and understood. That’s where communication can play a big role, especially strategic communication that reduces these gaps by working at the boundaries.
For some related scholarly articles on linking knowledge to action (or K2A), visit Harvard’s Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Development programme.
Contrary to what we always believed, chameleons don’t change colour simply to hide. It turns out that chameleons primarily evolved their ability to change the colours and patterns of their skin to communicate visually with one another (ref). This bit of reptilian knowledge makes me happy for several reasons. I was lucky to come across many chameleons while living in East Africa (this little guy was spotted in the West Usambara Mountains near Lushoto, Tanzania.) Sometimes one would cross my path outside my office. Each time, I was fascinated and charmed by their calculated calmness, and incredible anatomy, especially the swiveling eyes and their dexterous toes. Learning that these charismatic creatures don’t change colour just to hide, but also to share is pretty remarkable. They have evolved to be social communicators, and send quick and colourful messages to other chameleons. Let’s get inspired by the chameleon and find ways to share quickly, colourfully, and meaningfully!