(Chers Sangaré et Dolo, n’hésitez pas à ajouter votre grain de sel en français !)
May I offer you a small Christmas gift: a solution tree, fresh from Mali! The idea occurred to us while facilitating the Mali Knowledge Fair last week: instead of the usual problem tree, where causal relationships are deducted from a problem, we propose to grow a tree of solutions. Experiences feed the stam and the branches (the principles for action) all the way to the top: the practice at level 5 and the AIDS Competent community. You can visit the small, but growing Mali solution tree at: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pCaAC0qgY5AelZzVTUCLrLg
So, what did we learn during this knowledge fair? What does it mean for the upcoming Chiang Mai Knowledge Fair? What are some of the remaining challenges?
Here are a few process characteristics from the Bamako “Foire des Réponses Locales” which may be worth adapting at the Chiang Mai Knowledge Fair: (see process outline in French, attached)
Before the Knowledge Fair:
Participants from all provinces prepared the KF by making an inventory of illustrations related to four practices: they came with a clear view of experiences they would offer.
The three facilitators went through the process in fine detail for about 4 hours.
During the Knowledge Fair:
We spent the first day getting to know each other at a personal level and appreciating all contributions.
A first, unstructured exchange during the first afternoon sent the energy levels sky high.
We spent a full day for sharing over one practice, and had three groups in parallel (participants were about 60)
We shared in four phases: sharing the vision of level 5; sharing experiences of progress towards level 5; identifying common principles for action; filling the knowledge asset form. We only focused on the form at the end of the process.
We focused group presentations on process, thereby avoiding long and detailed presentations of experiences in plenary
A dedicated TV team spent two days recording 2 minutes interviews about experiences. They will be uploaded to Youtube and linked to experiences in the knowledge assets
After the Knowledge Fair:
On the last day, we focused on next steps; agreeing on a way for deepening the documentation and extending it to other practices
As platform for exchange, we went for Googledocs as I has experience with that support, and as each Provincial team had used the knowledge asset Excel sheet
What seems to have been important?
The preparation by Sangare of the Provincial teams before the knowledge fair
The detailed outlining of process done by the team of facilitators
The salty opening
The initial sharing around vision
Not to show the “form” too early
What could we have done better?
Shifting the presentation from activity “we are doing this or that” to focus on the change “we had this issue and here is how we solved it”: this will take time and effort, as that way of thinking is very new for participants as well as for us facilitators…
Making the causal links flow: between experience, principle and vision of success: same observation: we won’t get there overnight!
Writing a 300 word description of the experience, covering the background and the turning point
Getting real experience in the room, not the reports from intermediaries
What does this mean for the upcoming Chiang Mai Knowledge Fair (KF)?
Would it be useful to request that people come to the KF with 300 word draft descriptions of experiences?
Should we allocate (sufficient) time for storytelling and writing as part of the knowledge fair?
Should we require that participants come with evidence of progress on AIDS Competence by their own community, as evidenced by two self assessments?
What are some of the remaining challenges?
Making the updating work
Languages: somehow I can’t see KA’s accommodating several languages in one matrix: the principles for action may be different in different languages, as they result from different thought processes
How will we accommodate the thousands of experiences likely to be contributed as we progress? Maybe we keep the KAs separate per country or network and make them searchable through Google?
Is it possible to create new principles for action without meeting F2F?
How shall we link knowledge assets and our aidscompetence community on Ning?
What standard platform shall we adopt for the building of KAs?