IDLO Strategic Networks

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IDLO virtual knowledge and experience sharing network is meant to be a continuous, dynamic and user-driven forum to strengthen connections among legal professionals, exchange experiences and generate and share knowledge and best practices to support learning/collaboration across countries and institutions. The users will be IDLO interested stakeholders.

After drafting the strategy, we are trying to find out:

  • how do we present and demonstrate the benefits in a compelling, easy-to-understand and adopt manner (internally and externally)?
  • shall we continue targeting specific, strategic user groups in order to strengthen the hard core of early adopters (our Alumni and course participants)?
  • how do we design and deliver appealing demos and pilot projects?
  • how do we attract potential users so as they feel motivated to abandon familiar yet inefficient work practices, and embrace online sharing and collaboration?
  • how to evaluate the participation and is the rewarding system a good incentive for it?
  • how to deal with geographically distributed participants (time, languages) and the role of our project and regional offices?
  • how to deal with copyrighted document sharing?
  • in order to avoid duplication, what kind of collaboration with partners offering similar platform?
  • is facilitation/moderation needed or should all come from the users?
  • assess the right balance between working and social network ; both are necessary?

Method Used

The method used for this session was World Café.


The session stimulated fruitful discussions and encouraged the participants to elaborate valuable solutions to integrate/improve the Knowledge Sharing Network’s starting-up and evaluation strategies. Two major questions guided the discussion.

Question 1) What are the best practices to start?

  • Start the pilot with selected user-champions;
  • Do in-house pilot to practice and choose best moderators;
  • Arouse interest in the pilot by resorting (3-1 months prior to launch) to multiple alerting tools with a targeted launching message: disseminate SMS, send e-mails, advertise on Google, Facebook, Twitter, on Linked-in and analogous networking tools; send attractive postcards and try to involve the largest number of partners to publicize the initiative;
  • The network’s growth and success will depend on the well balanced synergic combination of both the organizer’s and users’ active participation and contributions;
  • Start with CoPs on other platforms to create a group discussion dynamic --> virtual focus groups;
  • The pilot should have limited services; it is important to propose a clear set of features, easy to use and not too numerous--> need to adapt and make it as simple as possible;
  • At the beginning, you have 80% of the project budget and 20% of the knowledge (what they need, what we can offer, how it can evolve, …) --> it is crucial to start reducing the budget ratio and increasing the knowledge --> flexibility is the key;
  • Foster from the very beginning discussions about the platform and its usefulness;
  • It is important to start online interaction before doing the training without waiting too much --> the end users get a basic knowledge of the platform before they are shown how to use it;
  • Program a user-friendly interface: usage of simple log-in procedures and applications encourages accessibility and affiliation of users.

From the pilot launch on:

    • Perform a continuous Monitoring & Evaluation activity;
    • The organizer’s presence must be constantly manifested: make sure that all questions get promptly answered; respond to users’ requests; provoke and monitor discussions to link people;
    • Encourage continuous feedback --> we understand how it works, what is difficult and we adapt --> flexibility is the key concept of the system and the adaptability of the services we are offering --> it is crucial to start small and grow bigger because it is easier to adapt few services from the management side (IDLO) and it is less confusing for the users;
    • Users coaching + face-2-face events;
    • Perform an After Action Review on the pilot (important!);
    • Recognizing and rewarding effort can stimulate the users’ participation: publish names and pictures, give prizes, etc;
    • It will be essential to document with concrete examples the benefits experienced by users (allow them to publish their stories on the platform);
    • Preserve and foster the human and informal dimension.

Question 2) How can we prove that our users are gaining benefit from their on-line sharing and collaboration? - i.e. How do we measure the impact of the sharing network

  • Monitoring the traffic (statistic tool);
  • Do surveys, polls to both users and IT people --> 2 different questionnaires because of different indicators; solicit direct feedback by chat on the site or by interviews;
  • Analyzing failure stories will help to measure what is lacking in your platform. Highlight success stories (collaborative articles by peers from different countries) and create a regular newsletter (bulletin) with best of them republished;
  • Needs assessment results must be the baseline to measure success and will be crucial to reshape the platform on an ongoing basis;
  • Monitoring of other legal sector web-sites and platforms on a regular basis will provide an important benchmark and source of inspiration: measure what happens there, evaluate their impact and examine their tools;
  • Evaluate if and to what extent the Sharing Network is contributing to achieve the organization’s mandate and outcomes (number of publications, citation in other websites);
  • The use of both quantitative and qualitative measurements will contribute to assess and analyze the sustainability and effectiveness of the sharing network.

'How to measure?'

A - Quantitative tools

  • By providing documentation for capitalization and dissemination;
  • By measuring the human traffic (number of subscribers, proactive Alumni Associations, Active members in fora);
  • By measuring the growth rate for the COPs;
  • By scanning on the web our visibility (the number of hyperlinks to our platform) and assessing the spill-over effect.

B - Qualitative Tools

  • By asking the end users --> it is also about their feelings;
  • By asking the moderators of the forum discussions;
  • By measuring relibility of visiting instructors, authoritative interventions and discussions in the COPs moderated by experts in areas of practice (World Bank, WTO, UNAIDS).

After Action Review on using the method

What worked well:

- a number of ideas were generated out of a large number of people because of the small groups set-up.

- the time-framing of the group work was good and well managed.

- the peer-assist method was used as part of the world cafe.

- the general timing was good and permitted to focus particularly on the questions.

What did not work so well?

- the method was maybe not the best one since the World Café is more efficient when the topic is well known and where there is already a consistent experience with it (which was not the case) for discussion --> the Peer Assist method might have been more fruitful

- we needed more time to prepare the feedback of each others’ sessions

What to improve:

- there should be more explanation about how the method would work, pragmatically and logistically.

- the method should be better introduced.

- in some cases, time allocated for group work was too short and so allow for more time.

- hosts should always summarise before starting the next session.

- problem should always be well-elaborated. question should always be very, very clear.

- hosts should be given a few minutes before reporting to the larger group. it may be a good idea to ask hosts to limit their reporting to five key points.

- make sure that all the moderators have an equal knowledge of the topic discussed.

- designate a dedicated person to take note of the different remarks/observations contributed by the audience.

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