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After Action Review CT Lab -- reflections from Mark Hammersley

1. Please quickly describe what was the intention with the CT Lab initiative, in your understanding (and according to the formal ToR description)? Was getting insights for yourself one of the objectives?

A dual purpose:

  • To get a better understanding of how technology stewardship (ie supporting decisions, use and capacity development around technology) can or should work within communities
  • To provide some insights/guidance for the KM4Dev community in its own approach to managing the various technologies it uses to support community dialogue, learning and resource management.

The CT Lab was associated with the idea of potentially reviving the KM4Dev TAG (Technical advisory group). Getting insights was a conscious or not purpose for the members involved but they learned a lot.

2. What happened (please describe a little – all or some of the following- how long did the activity last, how many people contributed, did the same few people contribute a lot in the conversation and/or documentation, or rather many different people with many different contributions? Did you perceive a lot of interest as the conversation was happening? Were there any external factors (date, clash with other events, time of days) that it is significant o mention/ may have affected the way people participated?).

  • A consultant was hired to drive the CT Lab initiative
  • A Dgroup was created and in total 67 people joined the CT Lab
  • The initiative started with exploring the expectations of participants – quite a few wanted to be trained, others wanted to focus on the direct application for KM4Dev
  • There were really good conversations and some consensus on some tech stewardship issues
  • Conversations were documented on the wiki
  • After a first initial set of exploratory conversations took place the conversation moved on to a possible application to KM4Dev but that led to stall the exchange
  • There were moments of intense sharing and quiet moments, perhaps due to different objectives pursued by the members or to the time of the year when CT Lab unfolded (summer).

3. Were the above- mentioned objectives accomplished?


4. What was the most important lesson for you? What do you think was the most valuable learning for participants?

  • Tech stewardship is part and parcel of community management – People involved in the latter should at least partly be involved in the former
  • ‘Most successful communities are using imperfect technology; most tech stewards are spending most of their effort making the most of an imperfect technology configuration; very few tech stewards have the luxury to specify exactly what their community wants/needs.’
  • There seemed to be a consensus that integrating technologies is a must, as opposed to trying out new technologies

5. Did you face any major hurdles, or obstacles? What?

  • The timing of this work (over the summer) and difficulties in getting steering group members to respond to activities
  • Differences in perspectives and expectations on what tech stewardship is and how it should be applied to KM4Dev
  • Lack of participation from KM4Dev core group members
  • Lack of support for tech tools currently in use by KM4Dev
  • Multiple simultaneous initiatives competing for community members’ attention

6. Did you learn anything about the process that you can recommend to others, and/ or that you will apply yourself next time you facilitate a conversation?

  • Greater responsibility from the core group to create conditions for better participation in such focused conversations and for better learning from its members
  • Managing expectations regarding long-standing tech issues
  • Assess availability before committing to steering such activities
  • There is demand for training courses on tech stewardship

7. Overall, was the effort/ investment (I don’t know if there was any monetary investment, but time, preparation, etc. perhaps?) worth it?

  • From KM4Dev's perspective it will all depend on whether tech stewardship owned and integrated into its core will be implemented.
  • It was necessary

8. Please (if you can ?) give me a quote, a drawing, a haiku- any quick shot that encapsulates what happened in this initiative, of course from your point of view.

Tech stewardship is more about community management than about tech. Getting the chemistry right for effective technology stewardship (mix of tech savvy versus average members, providing a strong link with overall community leadership) is the magic we need to achieve