‘AgKnowledge Innovation' Process Share Fair
25-26 May 2015
ILRI Addis Campus, Ethiopia
Hashtags: #sfaddis #agprocess

See the list of sessions that could be followed online:
And share your impressions about how these online/offline interactions

Results and outputs

Background - why this Share Fair?

CGIAR and other organisations working in agriculture and rural development are transforming the ways they do business. The transformations call for much stronger capabilities to design and deliver truly effective ‘process’ improvements that lead to applied innovation, social learning and value for money. Today’s business ‘un-usual’ has to be the tomorrow’s new ‘as usual’.

These process improvements are needed at different levels, from individuals to systems. Some of the important drivers for this transformation include:
  • The ambition of outcomes and impacts ‘at scale’ requires sustained engagement and joint actions of different actors over time. Bringing and keeping diverse people together requires a mix of process ‘arts’ and ‘science’ to deliver results.
  • Collaboration across teams, disciplines, institutes, cultures - and time zones - is essential for success and must be properly initiated, facilitated and nurtured.
  • Partnerships for impact are more likely to succeed when the shared interests of partners are developed through facilitated processes leading to meetings of hearts, minds and expertise, and a genuine social learning approach that transforms all the actors involved, in sometimes small but enduring ways.
  • Sustained locally-applied innovation and development results from the rich and real involvement of community actors in determining, prioritizing and testing research and development interventions in their situations. Participation, engagement and capacity development (and empowerment) emerge from processes designed with these as specific outcomes and characteristics.
  • With increased needs for face to face or virtual interaction and dialogue, good process design, facilitation and documentation ensures that the costs of such transactions are low compared to the value added (or gained).

These improved processes catalyze innovation, learning and results at different scales and levels. There are no magic bullets; there ARE, however, many good principles, examples, approaches and methods that work. We are constantly seeking process improvements that help us.
  • Tackle tough issues through collective actions
  • Collaborate across teams
  • Forge and sustain partnerships for impact
  • Take interventions to scale
  • Engage effectively with local expertise
  • Empower different actors
  • Develop capacities for innovation and learning
  • Facilitate dialogue and conversations

The AgKnowledge Innovation Process Share Fair is an opportunity to improve the ways we do all of the above. Using these ideas as guiding threads, the share fair will use innovative design, process facilitation, and the active involvement of expert practitioners (and learners), to:
  1. Showcase, test and assess a set of the most promising ‘process improvements’ known to make (agricultural) research and development activities, programs, and institutes more effective.
  2. Energize, catalyze and capacitate a wider generation of ‘transformers’ able to take these approaches to scale.
  3. Help participants develop strong engagement and participatory approaches for problem-solving and foresight.
  4. Help participants assess progress on the challenges they encounter, individually or collectively.

Designed around Liberating Structures (and other similarly empowering approaches), each session combines an experienced 'convener' sharing a specific issue with process coaching support that leads to genuine collective engagement and learning. This will help ensure that participants learn how to:
  • Include and engage everyone in a group or unit or community in shaping next steps
  • Work more productively with difference across functions, disciplines, and borders
  • Eliminate counter-productive behaviours to make space for innovation
  • Work at the top of their intelligence while creating the same opportunity for others
  • Avoid after-the-fact efforts to sell ideas with buy-in strategies
  • Find alternatives to top-down “best practices” initiatives
  • Work together in a way in which evidence-based practices are complemented by local practice-based evidence-making

The process facilitation (coaching) team organising this event includes:
Carl Jackson (@carl_wkg)
Ewen Le Borgne (@EwenLB)
Lucie Lamoureux (@LucieKM4D)
Nadia Manning (bajan_nads)
Nancy White (@NancyWhite)
Pete Cranston (@peteCranston)
Peter Ballantyne (@PeterBallantyne)
S Fisher Qua

Draft agenda

Welcomes, Opening, connections (plenary) Peter - Nadia - Fisher
Generating principles (plenary) Fisher - Ewen
  • Liberating Structures 1 (Fisher) - with remote participation

Process literacy 101 (Lucie)
Instructional design: Basic principles and applications in agriculture (Deborah - Carl)
Convene for collective sense making (plenary) Fisher - Lucie
Reconnecting to the community (plenary) Petra - Fisher
  • Social reporting (Pier Andrea) - with remote participation
Open Space - bring your own topics (Ewen - Lucie)
Writeshops (Vanessa/Michael/Bethel)

  • Working with virtual teams (Nancy) - with remote participation
Open Space - bring your own topics (Fisher)
Policy engagement (Michael V. / Farah)
Innovation platforms and farmer/community engagement (Zelalem / Marc S.)
Convene for collective sense making (plenary) Carl - Pete


Connect to the community (plenary) - Petra
Participatory extension video (Lakshmi)
Agile product development (Konrad / Fisher)
Blended not stirred - effective learning approaches (Deborah - Carl)
  • Liberating structures 2 (Pete/Ewen) - with remote participation
Participatory and interactive radio (Freyhiwot)
Facilitating communities of practice (Lucie)
Convene for collective sense making (plenary) Carl - Tsehay
M&E process FUN-damentals (Tana)
Running multi-location global consultation and engagement (Nadia)
Social learning (Carl)
Synthesis and capitalisation (plenary) Fisher [with coffee and tea]

Basic description of the sessions

Each of these sessions will be further designed and organized together with the process facilitation team. For now the name of the convener is mentioned in brackets and the process coach in italics behind).
Many of these descriptions - as of 21 April 2015 - are provided by the organizing team, not by the conveners; ultimately they will be updated by the conveners themselves.

  1. Agile product development (Konrad Plechowski / S Fisher Qua): When our clients/customers/users are continuously adapting to new complexities how might we deliver valuable products and services that match their needs as they emerge? Agile development and design offers some hope of making progress by demanding a more immersive and intimate relationship to the problems of our clients and a more iterative, rapid cycle approach to building out the solutions we develop in collaboration with them. [Tuesday 26, Ubuntu, 13.45]
  2. Blended, not stirred – effective learning approaches (Deborah Wyburn / S Fisher Qua): This session will aim to provide an insight as to why and when it may make sense for training to be delivered in a ‘blended’ mode, and show how some ILRI initiatives plan to effectively ‘blend’ online and face to face learning in low-bandwidth environments using innovative learning technologies. [Tuesday 26, Dagu, 09.00]
  3. Facilitating Communities of Practice (Lucie Lamoureux / Ewen Le Borgne): Communities of practice (CoPs) have been hailed as a key legacy of knowledge management. But how to successfully facilitate them and what are the latest lessons and trends on the horizon? [Tuesday 26, Dagu, 11.00]
  4. Innovation platforms and farmer/community engagement (Zelalem Lema / Marc Schut / Carl Jackson): Innovation systems seek to understand how innovation happens and spreads, among others through multi-stakeholder processes. Within the latter, innovation platforms have been used extensively in agricultural research, with useful lessons for all people involved in complex challenges. [Monday 25, Maarifa, 15.45]
  5. Instructional design: Basic principles and applications in agriculture (Deborah Wyburn / Pete/Fisher on design - possibly sb else on facilitation): This session will provide an intro to some of the theory underpinning instructional design and adult learning, and provide an example of how these principles were used when redesigning an intervention (FEAST) aimed at improving feed utilization and animal production. [Monday 25, Maarifa, 10.30]
  6. Liberating structures 1 (Pete Cranston / Fisher S Qua / Ewen Le Borgne): How is that structure creates more freedom and responsibility? We will practice using 3-5 Liberating Structures in this session to play with, ponder and pounce on opportunities that emerge from this paradoxical reality. The surprising power of microstructural design elements that are always present yet rarely attended to will be explored and experienced. Come prepared to engage with seriously playful curiosity. [Monday 25, Megenagna, 10.30]
  7. Liberating structures 2 (Pete Cranston / Fisher S Qua / Ewen Le Borgne) Everyone of us, in global development, attends meetings and events that clearly are crying out for more 'process literacy', i.e. for more understanding about how people, experiences, objectives, context, time should be combined effectively. Some of these events are facilitated, and that tends to improve the lack of thinking on process (though not always). But a great many event are left to a chair, or even nobody to guide everyone to a successful and energising experience. 'Liberating Structures 2' will make use of various Liberating Structures to show how we can collectively facilitate these events for maximum results. [Tuesday 26, Megenagna, 11.00]
  8. M&E process Fun-damentals (Tana Lala-Pritchard / Tonya Schutz): The process of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is often perceived to be dull, cumbersome and time-consuming. However, when planned and implemented properly, it can strengthen the basis for managing for results, fostering learning and generating knowledge within an organization. M&E enables you to check the “bottom line” of your work by forcing you to think in terms of “So what? What difference is my work making, how and for whom?” [Tuesday 26, Megenagna, 14.00]
  9. Open space (Anyone / ??) Using the famous Open Space Technology principles and/or format, these sessions will allow participants to come up with topics they care for 'on the spot'... [Various days and time slots, Ubuntu space]
  10. Participatory extension video (Lakshmi Iyer / Lucie Lamoureux): How content can be created in a participatory way to empower rural communities to tell their stories and feed these back to wider policy circles and to influence the practice of development actors involved. [Tuesday 26, Megenagna, 09.00]
  11. Participatory and interactive radio (Freyhiwot Nadew / S Fisher Qua): Participatory listening and engagement through one of the most successful media in rural communities - the experience of Farm Radio International and new horizons in this arena. [Tuesday 26, Ubuntu, 11.00]
  12. Policy engagement (Kim Geheb / Farah Ahmed / Michael Victor / Lucie Lamoureux): Development - even rural - does not change only on the basis of small pilot projects, on-the-field activities and community mobilization. For real change to happen in development, policies need to take into account the latest thinking, insights, ideas. This session will explain how to do policy engagement in the most effective way based on many years of experience in CGIAR and beyond. [Monday 25, Dagu, 15.45]
  13. Process literacy 101 (Lucie Lamoureux / Pete Cranston / Ewen Le Borgne): This process-rich world we are describing needs some basic (and advanced) understanding of the value of processes, of process-focused work and of how to do it. In other words it requires for people to be 'process-literate'. This session will give some straight experiences to boost anyone's process literacy... [Monday 25, Dagu, 10.30]
  14. Running multi-location, global consultation and engagement (Nadia Manning / Peter Ballantyne): Unique events in time are not enough to build a real movement. For some longer term processes that require intensive and continual engagement, one needs to take process facilitation to the next level, so as to be able to run multi-location global consultations. Based on real life examples, this session will explore how to do that best. [Tuesday 26, Ubuntu, 14.00]
  15. Social learning (Carl Jackson / Pete Cranston / S. Fisher Qua / Nancy): A lot of the basic issues that prevent development work from reaching their true potential have much to do with how we learn, and how we learn together to transform the development/research ecosystems in which we work and live. This is particularly true of wicked problems such as chronic poverty and climate change. Social learning is a complex and fascinating approach that puts the due emphasis on this transformational learning that involves the whole ecosystem around us. [Tuesday 26, Dagu, 14.00]
  16. Social reporting (Pier Andrea / Pete Cranston): Formal reporting at events and in development work only goes so far. We don't trust institutional communication much more than marketing. In parallel lots of people are making use of social media to augment their information filtering capacity and to create movements of information sharing. Social reporting reconciles the need to report about events and work with the natural interest of people to use social media, adding a very engaging and compelling layer of communication to formal reporting. [Monday 25, Megenagna, 13.45]
  17. Working with virtual teams (Nancy White / Ewen Le Borgne): Ever play a simple electronic game like “Angry Birds?” Does your virtual team work feel similar? Just sending bird bombs into tipsy structures? What if the game were something different? Join us as we work to “level up” our virtual team skills. We’ll explore what non productive virtual team practices to stop, identify the minimum specs for success, and even work to climb to the perhaps trickiest level, that of trust and leadership. To make it even more interesting, your two hosts, Ewen Le Borgne and Nancy White will blend F2F (Ewen) and online (Nancy from afar.) All kinds of participants are invited. [Monday 25, Megenagna, 15.45]
  18. Writeshops (Vanessa Meadu / Michael Victor / Carl Jackson): How can we organize events that bring more than 'nice conversations' and actually deliver real outputs? When are such writeshops best indicated in an engagement process with partners and other people? Find out and co-design the next wave of writeshops... [Monday 25, Dagu, 13.45]

In addition to these parallel sessions, we will have plenary sessions to tie up the learning, reflection, synthesis, connecting, conversing across the whole event and the whole group of participants.
  1. Generating Principles / principles manifesto (S Fisher Qua): Often, in global development, we focus on what needs to be done, without really paying enough attention on the collaboration dynamics that matter between all people involved to feel comfortable with the work and with each other. In this session we will find out how to build powerful principles that seriously facilitate everyone's work and spare a lot of trouble further down the line. Strong principles act as minimum specifications or simple guiding rules that govern how we choose to relate to one another. Clear principles set operational constraints that enable everyone to take greater responsibility for shaping the work-at-hand. We will collectively sketch out key interaction principles for process artistry and the Share Fair itself while also investigating the surprising power of precise-yet-minimum constraints.
  2. (Social weaving or Re-)connecting to the community (S Fisher Qua and team): Networks draw unique strength from the diversity of loose connections that exist them. We will rely on this key characteristic of social webs to continuously weave everyone together in surprising ways. Be prepared to collide with others and discover serendipity-at-work.
  3. Convening for collective sense-making (S Fisher Qua and team): "Not all wisdom can live in a single head" - Norwegian aphorism. Since self-discovery often occurs in groups. we will sift-and-sort through the collective epiphanies, uncertainties, lingering questions and emerging wisdom of the crowd throughout the Share Fair.
  4. Synthesis and capitalisation (S Fisher Qua and team): How might we visualize the ecology of process arts and innovations for development shared at this fair? What is already mature and delivering results? Where is there rigidity that needs to be creatively destroyed? What liminal innovations are resting just below the surface? Where are there things being birthed that show early signs of progress? We will use a simple ecocycle map to begin seeing the relationship between each individual tree, the forest and entire bioregion of process arts and development innovations.

"I always figure if you get a lot of clever people in a room, the sum total of what everybody doesn't know is what is really interesting because that's where progress is likely to be made. That is the opposite of brainstorming, [where] you get people together and you say, 'Let's pool our knowledge'. Well, I'm after pooling ignorance because it's in the gaps of ignorance that we are likely to make progress." — Prof Paul Davies, The Center for Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, Arizona State University

The process of this Process Share Fair

Throughout two days, a variety of 'sessions' will be organized, around the topics that are proposed above. This will be a learning-in-practice immersion that provides participants with a diverse repertoire of ways to move forward toward productive endpoints on complex challenges.

Each session will last about 90 minutes and is co-designed with a 'process facilitation coach' to make sure we tap into the best opportunities for engagement, cooperation and social learning. The process of each session will likely follow one or a combination of 'Liberating Structures' as that will be one of the central elements of the Share Fair. This design team is there for addressing what we’re working on here + figuring out how to organize the sequence of time, space and any__Min Specs__ on the invitation contributors might make to offering a practice at the fair.
At any rate, for every session we want to avoid two all too typical formats: PowerPoint presentations and open discussions.

Each session will be (ideally) documented by a team of reflectors, field guides, ethnographers, synthesizers (see 'your possible stances at the Share Fair' below) in order to maximize the learning and get the most out of this event a) individually as we are honing these new skills and b) collectively, for the benefit of the whole group.

We will thus have opportunities to engage and reflect in a variety of social and mental spaces:
  • Watering Holes (to get to know each other attending the session)
  • Caves (Opportunities for reflection and individual sensemaking)
  • Campfires (Social story sharing, connecting and collective sensemaking)

DESIGN Principles (for more see__Design Elements__)
  • Make the mechanism(s) that generate progress visible, understandable and repeatable
  • Make conventional approaches so unappealing that participants stop using them (i.e. death by powerpoint)
  • Provide opportunities to practice in-the-moment and learn by failing forward (failure bows!)
  • Continuously draw attention to the results
  • Draw out the principles (the state of mind) that matter to get engaged in those processes (eg. Embracing confusion, seeing conflict as a generative opportunity etc.)
  • Rely on any conventional structures ourselves
  • Treat any of the practices as expert-driven
  • Be shy of the fact that more participatory and engaging approaches can initially feel lurching and increase uncertainty

Event stances: Everyone may adopt any of the following stances at different points throughout the event process and we will invite everyone to reflect on these stances.
  • Designated ethnographers observing, noticing and documenting the groups dynamics.
  • Field guides drawing attention to the principles and flow of time
  • Reflectors
  • Synthesizers (perhaps around the list of topics in the background) to help the learning group individually and collectively make sense of what is happening and how to practically apply any given structure/practice to a challenge at hand
We may also need people reflecting/synesizing at different levels (what this means for individuals, teams, organizations, systems…)

Read more background (quick & dirty) about the design of this Share Fair

Online Participation: e-participation at AgKnowledge ShareFair 2015

One of the most important transformations in the way we do business in International Development is the accelerating use of online channels to complement or replace face to face meetings and events. That means we have to find ways to achieve our goals through a mix of face to face and online activities, designed systematically to ensure that participants are able to engage, follow threads, collaborate and discuss themes throughout the chain of different formats and activities.

We want to reflect that in the Addis event, opening up an online dimension to our conversations, experiments and reflections.

So we will open up several (five?) of the sessions to people outside Addis. We want to learn from our collective experience how best to blend online and f2f participation, working both face to face in Addis and online. We want to explore, improvise and learn, and use those experiments as the basis for an enquiry into how the two dimensions can be woven together most effectively.

So we will be inviting participants to different types of online engagement, including:
  • a simple webcast of a workshop session, with a chat facility for online participants to engage with those in the room, and each other, through a moderator
  • more interactive formats, with presenters both online and in the room, and participants able to interact equally with those physically and remotely in the room
  • experiments in using Liberating Structures for meetings involving remote and physically present participants

After each session we will invite participants to reflect on what their experience tells us about how to facilitate participative processes that intertwine online and face to face components.

We invite you to learn with us .

Logistical information for events happening on the ILRI Addis Ababa campus

Visit the ILRI Ethiopia campus page for other information

Airport pick up (Airlink)

Travelers will be met at the airport by someone with an 'ILRI' board in the arrivals area.
The company organizing pick up is Airlink; they can be reached at +251 913 111 707 / +251 913 002 254 ).

Cash and currency exchange

The ILRI campus hosts a bank (Wegagen Bank) which can help you change currency. Only US Dollars, euros and British Pounds (and naturally Ethiopian Birrs) are accepted however.


Ethiopia uses two-(round)pin plugs as in Europe - see an example here. ILRI does not provide plug adapters so please come prepared.

Weather and other information

The weather is dry and sunny [strong sun!] and chilly at night [bring warm jackets!].

Visit the ILRI Ethiopia campus page for other information