Talk:Transboundary learning and innovation for development

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Nicole Afable, Oct 21 2013, Launch of Transboundary learning and innovation for development focused conversation

Dear KM4Dev members,

We are excited to launch the focused group conversation on transboundary learning and innovation. In the next three weeks, we will be sharing lessons and experiences of knowledge sharing beyond boundaries in financial inclusion, peace building and innovative development models. We look forward to our dynamic and engaging exchange and learning more about your ideas, experiences and feedback. Before we start our discussion, the resource speakers would like share the definition of transboundary learning and innovation.

Best regards, Nicole Afable

Transboundary Learning and Innovation

Transboundary learning covers learning processes that occurs across boundaries, whether political, ethnic, geographical, religious, corporate or administrative. Transboundary innovation is innovation that redefines or transcends such boundaries and affiliations.

Learning by individuals is well understood. Learning by organizations started to be understood and applied thanks to the works of pioneers such as Chris Argyris, Peter Senge and David Garvin. Transboundary learning and innovation is the least understood. Real world problems often cut across boundaries, yet human solutions are often conceived and implemented within boundaries. Transboundary learning and innovation that seeks to evolve more workable solutions to human, social and planetary problems has been going on in the United Nations, in regional and international development organizations and in a growing variety of networks supported and spurred by the Internet. But more has to be done to move this field forward. Inline image 3 We recognize the importance of bringing together experts and practitioners in this field of transboundary learning and innovation, and capture via a publication the experiences and theory building that has been happening. We are bringing this discourse through a wider audience of KM practitioners through this KM4Dev Focused Conversation. We invite you to share your own experiences so together we can gain more insights towards a better understanding of this important process.

Your resource persons:

Jasmin Suministrado

Benedict Rimando

Serafin Talisayon

October 2013

Valerie Brown, Oct 21 2013, Comment on Launch

I would like to contribute from the perspective of collective learning, that is combining inner-directed learning which includes all ways of thinking and outerdorected learning which combines with the thinking of others. This naturally crosses all boundariees, while it focuses on the core understanding rather than the boundaries. It addresses the bounaries as patterns of relationships not primarily barriers. Val,

Md Santo, Oct 21 2013, Comment on Launch - Nature Knowledge Theory

Dear Nicole et al,

I’m very interesting with your transboundary learning and innovation plan. It is really appreciated to such innovative idea I myself currently involved in what we called as trans disciplinary learning covering advance study and works beyond Knowledge Management domain trying to discover the hidden basic science since 17th century (beginning of Newtonian era) and we coined the name of newly discovered basic science as Nature Knowledge Theory (NTK)

Our trans disciplinary learning approach including the effort to comprehending simultaneously at least Knowledge Management – Astro/Particle Physics – Cosmology – Complexity Theory – Philosophy of Science – Organizational Learning – Nature Knowledge Theory. It is not the same with multi disciplinary learning with regard that each people involved should comprehending to some extend all the subject matters whatsoever

To give an impression of our trans disciplinary outcomes which might be used to sharing our experiences with your trans boundary learning and innovation programs, visit our most recent document titling “Our Knowledge Capital Assets as Considerations to set up Foundation (California, USA) and Institute (Jakarta, Indonesia) for Educators and Scientists” at URL or the Attachment below. Happy viewing!

Best regards, Md Santo

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 21 2013, Reply to Md Santo

Hi Md Santo,

Thanks for sharing this very interesting work that you do. It's amazing how much disciplines have evolved, not just on their own, but also across (before with multi, and now with trans)! You certainly have a lot going on.

I'm intrigued now with your first product knowledge, which is the Social Networking Site "Mobee Knowledge CoP". Can you tell us more how that CoP works? How is it designed? How do members interact, and how does trans discipline learning happen within that CoP? And connecting it to the first topic of our focused conversation, are there any peer exchanges that happen within this CoP?

Thanks, and for others with a similar transboundary CoP and peer exchange, feel free to jump in! jasmin

Serafin Talisayon, Oct 21 2013, Reply to Valerie

Hi Valerie,

What you call outer-directed learning does cross all sorts of boundaries between people; I agree. In that sense all outer-directed learning is transboundary.

But what we are more concerned here are the enculturated mental fences that people had constructed and by which they separate themselves (in their minds) from "others" - and we constantly see this giving rise to so many problems and conflicts in the world today. So,our concern here are entrenched affiliations, powerful interest groupings and other non-trivial boundaries that make learning difficult but still possible. I think the question to ask is: how can learning be more effective across such powerful boundaries? Or, what are the circumstances that facilitate innovative redefinition of boundaries that can solve (or dissolve) pestering social problems?

Do you agree?


Md Santo, Oct 22 2013, SNS Mobee Knowledge CoP

Dear Jasmin,

The SNS “Mobee Knowledge CoP” started out since 2008 was firstly built as our corporate intranet and further considered by our need to establish networking with the community we put it as corporate extranet consumed for public. The period of 2008 – 2010 is the period where we emphasized just on “ordinary and horizontal KM” with ourself KM model standard as well as KM metrics (see ) . Beginning 2010 – 2013+ we have been developing advance study and works beyond KM domain with trans disciplinary approach we called as “vertical KM” (see -“Beyond Knowledge Management trend : DIKW continuum vs Nature Knowledge continuum” (pp 1 – 4 = Horizontal KM and pp 5 – 9 = Vertical KM) altogether enhanced with our main postulate saying “We are KM regulated by Nature, and by nature we are KM model” .

The rational of using trans disciplinary approach with mainly blended learning method could be learned from URL - “Trans Disciplinary considerations making us went into Knowledge Management”

Due to the fact that trans disciplinary approach as future next gen learning not without constraints, therefore within the last two years we experienced not so intense interaction among the members (currently we have 1000+ members in 40 countries). We aware that most of them becoming lurkers but it’s not handicap for us to managing “the show must go on”. Some of them response privately through e-mail discussing “strange stuff beyond KM”. Other than that we also excercising through media outside our SNS eg through Linkedin or TED forum (see -“Beyond Knowledge Management Trans Disciplinary (Physics – Philosophy of Science – Knowledge Management) Discussions”)

But even so, at last we currently in the beginning to establish global social collaboration with our friends in Europe and USA to develop peer group as well as to disseminate the outcome of advance study beyond KM as showed by the document I just sent last week ( see - “Our Knowledge Capital Assets as Considerations to set up Foundation (California, USA) and Institute (Jakarta, Indonesia) for Educators and Scientists )

I do hope by doing this we could making synergism with your transboundary learning and innovation plan

Thank you

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 21 2013, Peer learning and exchange in the area of financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid

Dear KM4Dev,

Today we kick off the first topic of our focused conversation: Peer learning and exchange in the area of financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.

Here’s a question I was faced with about two years ago: How do you design a successful peer learning intervention, with peers defined as individuals coming from different types of organizations (corporate, community-owned, NGO, etc), different countries and regions (from Africa to Asia to Latin Amercia), and naturally, different cultural background?

Here’s some background information: At the Microinsurance Innovation Facility of the International Labour Office, we are pushing the innovation frontiers of “microinsurance,” or insurance for poor people who are most vulnerable to risks. We work with a range of insurance providers in developing countries and make them experiment with new ways of providing insurance services (health, life, agriculture, catastrophic, etc); and through our knowledge management activities at the Facility, we consolidate and disseminate lessons learned on how to make insurance both viable for providers and valuable for the low-income beneficiaries. To highlight the importance of the latter (ie, value for clients), a sort of a community of practice called the “Practitioner Learning Group (PLG) on improving client value” was formed in 2011. The PLG comprises of more than 40 individuals from 13 organizations from 11 countries. One of the key activities of this PLG is the peer exchange.

We’ve had two peer exchanges so far (in 2012 and 2013):

1. In 2013, we brought together PLG members in an exchange in Dhaka, Bangladesh to experience and suggest client value improvement work to a microfinance institution called Sajida Foundation. To learn more about this peer exchange, watch the video at: If you would like to know more about the technical aspects of the visit, you can go to:

2. In 2012, we brought together PLG members in an exchange in East London, South Africa to experience and suggest client value improvement work to a regulated insurance company called Old Mutual. To learn more about this peer exchange, read the article at: And if you would like to know more about the technical aspects of the visit, you can go to:

As you can see, the twist of the peer exchange is in the design – for participants, it’s not just exposure to other contexts, but it is problem solving; and for the host, it’s free consulting.

Now here’s a question for you:

Have you used a similar kind of intervention for peer learning and exchange? How similar/different is your intervention from ours? What design elements were critical to the success of the peer learning/exchange activities you’ve implemented?

Looking forward to your responses,


James Grey, Oct 21 2013, Focus Plants

Hi, Jasmin. Whilst in a different context entirely (how to we improve our process for manufacturing alumina), we have experience in peer exchange type events. One of our key improvement activities is called a Focus Plant. Focus Plants concentrate on a section of the alumina refining process and draw together a raft of technical experts from various locations, countries and cultures. Typically we have 30-40 people, with 20-40% from outside the host location. Key activities for success include extensive preparation, data collection and analysis so we know exactly what problems we are trying to solve. This includes assessing a location against various benchmarks and best practices to look for gaps. By such extensive preparation, we reduce the amount of time required for participants to get up to speed and find the information they need to analyse problems. We run an event usually for five days, following an A3 format. Business case and Current Condition for two days, Target Condition for half a day, two days of implementing actions using a kaizen methodology and half a day to report on findings, improvements and next steps. Bringing people together to work on solving problems, I believe, allows participants to find common ground on something they have in common. In our case, it is the technical process which everyone shares at their home location. So we focus on the problem first, then the technical knowledge people bring second and the team’s ability to make change third. Woven into this are some guiding principles around assessing ideas on merit and not delivery, suspending assumptions based on a person’s home location and the requirement to produce as many drawings as possible of current and target conditions to get around English as our business language. Thanks to you and the team for running this conversation, I’m really fascinated to see the examples used by other organisations. James.

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 21 2013, Reply to James

Oh very interesting James. Thank you for sharing this! So the design of our peer exchanges is anchored on the same thing — a real problem that participants can help solve! But in your case, you can already report on the impact of suggested improvements within the scope of the peer exchange, because they already implement it then, is that right? That's very nice. Instant M&E!

It's a bit more challenging in our case due to the nature of our problems and the recommendations (which take longer to implement). Towards the end of the week, I will share some results from our peer exchange.

In the meantime, would love to hear about other peer exchange designs and experiences. Keep them coming!


James Grey, Oct 21 2013, Reply to Jasmin

Hi, Jasmin.

We try and complete as many actions as possible during the event, but where we cannot, we have process models to estimate the impact of longer term activities. Then we have a formal and routine system of checks and reporting to ensure the location is making progress and we find problems with implementation early so the system can help.


Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 22 2013, Success factors and challenges

Question to all those who organize or have organized peer exchange activities: What would you consider as success factors and challenges in ensuring that your peer exchange translates to insights and lessons that can be applied and adapted by each participant in his/her context (which is different culturally, organizationally, socially, etc)?

In other words, if somebody is to plan a peer exchange, what should they pay attention to and watch out for?

Let us know your thoughts.


Stacey Young, Oct 22 2013, Learning Networks Resource Center

hi Jasmin -- Thanks for kicking off this discussion, and congratulations on your continued excellent work at the Microinsurance Innovation Facility.

At USAID, we have developed a refined a peer learning network approach. We've recently launched an online Learning Networks Resource Center on the USAID Learning Lab website -- you can find it here: .

The model aims to bring together practitioners who are all working on the same thorny issue that has implications for an entire sector or industry; fund them to test innovations and also to work together as a peer learning network over the course of a grant period (18 months to three years, but it could certainly be done over a longer period as well). In the learning network, they establish a shared learning agenda for addressing the thorny issue and generating knowledge about how to solve it; they engage in peer assists to help each other problem solve around implementing their individual innovations; they develop a plan for, and receive support in, capturing what they're learning, translating it for a range of audiences, packaging it in usable formats, and sharing it strategically with those who are in a position to adapt and adopt their innovations and thereby scale their impact.

We've found that facilitation support from an entity that is expert in learning strategy and learning practice is critical; that the peer assist requires trust that is built over time and can't be launched too soon; that the industry-level concerns that are paramount to us as a donor organization are something that implementers/grantees/network members arrive at only later in the learning network time frame, once they've been implementing, collaborating, and gaining traction on their shared learning agenda; and that it takes sustained connection in the form of facilitated in-person meetings along with facilitated online and conference call engagement over the entire course of the grant period -- with all of the related budget, staffing and scoping implications. There are other lessons as well -- these are captured in the resources available in the Learning Network Resource Center on the Learning Lab site referenced above.

Thanks for this discussion!

Stacey Young Senior Learning Advisor, Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning USAID

Julian Goh, Oct 23 2013, Question

Dear Jasmin Suministrado,

Your question: peer exchange activities: What would you consider as success factors and challenges in ensuring that your peer exchange translates to insights and lessons that can be applied and adapted by each participant in his/her context (which is different culturally, organizationally, socially, etc)?

I am using the following approach to help me understand the value of a writer who is communicating with me:-

1。what is she advocates / stand for? 2。what is her view / judgment. 3。what is her central thought (which is the soul of her writing) 4。what new theory / definition had she tried to communicate?

Pete Cranston, Oct 23 2013, Comment on USAID initiative


This is fascinating, for at least two reasons:

1. This is a tremendous initiative from USAID, in terms of its intricacy and depth, and ambition and commitment to timeframe: this is going to produce some interesting learning in itself, not to mention evaluation

2. Which is my second point, that this model provides a really interesting bridge between accountability and learning, in that the donor is committed to learning while, presumably, doing all the donor-accountablity activities



Benedict Rimando, Oct 24 2013, Reply to Julian's question

Hello Julian! You have a very interesting way to approach writers.

Maybe just to help situate you in the current conversation, for three weeks, we will be discussing the topic of 'Transboundary Learning'. This issue which is being explored by some people and in particular the KM and innovation organization, CCLFI wishes to focus our attention on the various possibilities of finding the right approach when we deal with issues that affect people who are naturally delimited by mental borders that 'separate' them from others. Experience tells us that there are many things we can learn in the process of Transboundary activities, projects and approaches, such as the ones being focused during this three-week conversation. As Prof. Serafin Talisayon indicated in his feedback of Oct. 22 - enculturated mental fences that people construct among themselves by which they separate themselves from ‘others’ give rise to problems and conflicts. Hence, facilitating a learning process that cuts across entrenched affiliations, powerful interest groupings and other delimiting boundaries would be an interesting approach to contemporary issues and problems.

The current discussion for the week highlights one possibility of Transboundary learning which is through the tool of Peer exchange and learning. The example given was on Microinsurance and I think the advocacy of the Microinsurance Innovation facility is quite clear in the video presented during the conversation's launch which talks about experiences in peer exchange.: I think this video will answer most of your questions.

Hence continuing the conversation that has already surfaced various experiences by the community members, it would be nice to have your views as well, Julian, on this topic of peer learning and exchange, or on the general theme for the three weeks, which is Transboundary Learning.

Thank you for the open sharing.

Benedict Rimando

Catherine Fisher, Oct 24 2013, Explaining concepts

At risk of stating the obvious, I find you have to watch out for is language – particularly in virtual peer exchanges when words are often the only means of communication. Often in peer exchanges, I hear the same word being used to describe very different things – this is particularly true of more abstract concepts like “knowledge” “governance”. The potential for people to have very different understandings of terms is higher in multi-lingual and incross-sectoral groups where there may not be a mother tongue equivalent of the term under discussion, but is also the case for people with the same mother tongue from different backgrounds "uncertainty" is a classic term that means very different things to scientists and non-scientists! Assuming a common understanding of a term and sharing advice on that basis can be problematic as the experience and ideas being shared unsurprisingly seem difficult to apply! As a facilitator I try to listen for this and ask people to explain what they mean by particular concepts, not always popular but often very fruitful. Similarly, sometimes different words are used to describe similar concepts/concerns and ideas. Sometimes I feel the need to say things like “what you are describing sounds to me like what Frida was just talking about, do you see any similarities?” I sometimes wonder if I am too interventionist but it does sometimes help to have a “helicopter” perspective that can draw more generic links between specific contextual examples. So there you go, a bit of stating the obvious! However as a facilitator I try to always remember that people bring different understandings to the table, this is really rich if it is identified and explored and can be a problem if it is not. So I listen hard. And I don’t let people say “its common sense”. Interesting discussion – thanks everyone! Catherine

Nicole Afable, Oct 24 2013, Dealing with misunderstandings

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for sharing that insight!

It may seem obvious but it's true that shared terms may have different meanings for different people.

In the peer exchange of the Microinsurance Innovation Facility, this potential for misunderstanding is further complicated because we bring together peers from different parts of the world and have different mother tongues. We sometimes use translators, who may also peers. But it adds to the confusion because some things get lost in translation.

Is this also a problem for others? How do you deal with different understandings of terms whether across or within languages?

Other from language, what other issues do you observe?


Julian Goh, Oct 24 2013, Reply to Benedict

Dear Ben,

Thank you to provide the background of this conversation.

I agreed with your statement that mental fences blocked the flow of information on various occasions.

My take is liked this, maybe our investigations will be more effective if we can confined our scope in a focus group, it aims to identify barriers in mental fences.

I believed different working groups are facing different types of barriers. I give an example. When I worked on a project with various consultants in different disciplines in different countries in different cultures, we were spending more time to clarify and defence our thought, but lesser time spending on the actual inputs to complete the project.

When I faced this problem, I came up with a concept called 'the brainsfactories', and then I found it is similar to conceptual mapping.

In short, we learn and communicate more effectively in non-verbal form. And then, the receiver pick up the message and construct a better concept. At the end, we are communicating.

Julian Goh, Oct 24 2013, Reply to Catherine - Brain factories

Dear Cath,

I experienced the same when words are spoken through our mouths, it meant different meaning in other's ears.

When I need to explain a complex concept, instead of using words, I am using diagrams. So, I send out the diagrams to my peers, if they could understand my message encoded, they will respond to me in words or pictograms in their own choices.

I called it the 'brains factories'.

Catherine Fisher, Oct 24 2013, Challenges from peer assist

Thanks Nicole, this got me reflecting on challenges. One that sprung to mind was a workshop where groups were immersed in peer assist sessions, one person really hadn't bought into the idea, and wandered from group to group quite menacingly before suddenly bellowing "You're all asking the WRONG QUESTIONS!!"

Challenges below are mainly based from peer assist type sessions where people are making suggestions and sharing experience to help advise others to others as opposed to more coaching approaches like action learning sets where peers are mainly asking questions.

Understanding what kind of evidence ideas or suggestions are based on without prioritising "expert" knowledge Within peer exchange contexts, you need to stress that all contributions are welcome. And indeed this kind of learning is valued because it is not disembodied “expert” knowledge and consequently ‘experts’ find it threatening because “how do you know that peers will provide the “right” advice or examples?”. However thinking about how to understand and interpret ideas and input from peers is helped by an understanding of what evidence they are based on. Is this a personal hunch or something well tested? Did the action described produce the intended change, why how, how do you know? I have been in contexts where people describe confidently what they DID in a particular situation yet when asked whether it produced the intended outcome, they seem a bit stumped! This can be difficult to handle in peer exchange as you need to respect all contributions, not appear to be challenging them and often time is too tight to explore complex issues of contribution/attribution etc around an intervention. Asking people at the beginning to explain where their ideas come from is one way to address this – stressing that ideas drawn from personal experience, experience from apparently unrelated contexts, hunches and blue skies ideas are all very welcome can help. As of course can asking probing questions and suggesting following up after the session. But it is a difficult path to tread, particularly if you really disagree with what someone has just said but as a facilitator you can’t say so.

Varying degrees of willingness/ability to adapt insights from other contexts Any idea needs to be adapted to the context in which it is applied by the person who is applying it, yet some people seem to reject anything not already or obviously tailored to their context “it wouldn’t work here.” 1:1 follow up after the group sessions to support people to draw out to asking coaching style questions can help. I htink this ability to draw inspiration, adapt and apply is something that can be developed if it doesn't come naturally to people,- would be interested to hear any experiences of this.

Peer exchange might provide inspiration but not answers: this is to do with expectation management. It is unlikely that anyone has the right answer to your question or will be able to solve your problem for you. Peer exchange can inspire and generate new ways of exploring a problem but you still have to work out what to do. Needs communicating up front I guess.

These are of course just practical manifestations of bigger debates about knowledge and knowing that reverberate around this list all the time and should be seen in that context. Hope these musing are of interest, Catherine

Nancy White, Oct 24 2013, Peer Exchange Processes

Hi all

I'm in the midst of facilitating and event (WITH PEER EXCHANGE!) so am a bit behind in reading and responding, but I wanted to tease out one thing and mention another.

When we talk about peer exchange and various practices within this type of activity (like peer assists) there are also other methods that I've found useful.

For example, the process of "flipping the frame" or looking at a problem from the opposite perspective (see for example and some of the other examples from Liberating Structures) has been really useful for me when an individual or group is holding tight to a certain context or mindset. This type of method puts a different constraint (i.e. how would you plan for perfect FAILURE vs SUCCESS) that gets our minds out of their lovely tracks.

Reading the Alcoa example from James which points to a longer interaction (2.5 days WITH outsiders) gives us ideas of other patterns. Diversity in the interaction group and time to really DIG into something. In my experience in development, we rarely give ourselves time to really dig it. I was reflecting on one interaction I had in planning a team retreat for a client and I realized our weekly planning calls were not about the meeting, but a rare chance to "think out loud" with someone different. They were hungry for some thinking and reflecting time so we happily hijacked our own meetings.

Sorry for the long windedness, but with little time I wanted to weave in my own question that relates to some of the comments about culture.

I"d love more examples and ideas of how to deal with power and cultural context where speaking up in these peer interactions and saying fully what one knows/thinks/experiences. Saying for example. "Chatham House Rules" only works when there is some degree of power partity. Ideas? IF we are talking about "the bottom of the pyramid" this also suggests the very process of peer exchange is taking place on the ground. How do we, who are not on the ground, support that? What wild and crazy ideas can we think of -- one or two might actually work!!!


Nancy White, Oct 24 2013, Visual Practices in Peer Exchanges

At 04:03 AM 10/24/2013, you [Julian] wrote: In short, we learn and communicate more effectively in non-verbal form. And then, the receiver pick up the message and construct a better concept. At the end, we are communicating.

Just a quick chime in to support Julian's point. THe more I use visual facilitation and interaction techniques, the more we seem to cut to the "heart" of the matter. By this I mean not only the central point of the content of our discussions, but the ability to speak one's "truth" or experience. There are, of course, two sides to this knife....

On one hand, people start listening differently. My theory/experience tells me that this is because pictures need the drawer to explain them. We can't assume we understand them as we often do with words. So the pictures jumpstart the conversation. That is always a win.

The pictures sometimes reveal very personal things, and bring out one's 'heart' which can put people in vulnerable positions. So the trust and "safe place" issues seem to be super important in this context.

So one hypothesis we might test in practice is to try visual practices and notice which conditions are most conducive to this approach.

Just thinking out loud. OK, MUST get to work!

Julian Goh, Oct 24 2013, Comment on Peer Exchange Processes

Dear Nancy,

From my reading of your message, I sense that you are looking advise from others on peers learning experience in classroom context.

However, my experience come from written communications.

I believed they are different approach we need. But you can try out my method.

Eva Schiffer, Oct 24 2013, Comment on Visual Practices in Peer Exchange

Hi Nancy, I share your appreciation for all things visual. One thing that I have realized when I was the participant/contributor of conversations where we were supposed to make a picture of the points we had: Drawing made me understand things I didn't realize before. So, you draw a picture as the answer to a question and intend it to mean a certain thing. As you start explaining you realize that you have drawn things that were in your heart but not in your mind yet. It's like when kids draw a picture of a family and they are busy thinking about what color the dress should have or who wears a crown. And you see how they draw themselves much bigger or smaller than everyone else and it makes you wonder (yesterday my 4 year old daughter drew both of us, she was twice my size and she said: This is when I am 18 and you are 101 so you are small and I am your mom but you are still the queen..." but I digress....) Cheers Eva

Nancy White, Oct 24 2013, Reply to Julian

Julian, no, not in the classroom, but in the field. With everyday people in their everyday lives!


Nadejda Loumbeva, Oct 24 2013, Comment on Brain factories

Thank you Julian,

`Brain factories‘ is a great idea. I was just in a training session on graphic facilitation and one thing that the facilitator said was that words can often impede understanding (words can be our greatest enemy) whereas images and pictures immediately connect to the hearts of people and get them to communicate their own view on an issue/topic. In that sense, images are an essential means to a more of a ‘’bottom-up facilitation’’ approach. ...

Best, Nadia

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 24 2013, Make peer learning and exchanges beneficial for participants from different backgrounds

I like this: "examples and ideas of how to deal with power and cultural context where speaking up in these peer interactions and saying fully what one knows/thinks/experiences"

So in our case, when we bring together microinsurance providers in a peer exchange, we find that setting the environment for them to feel comfortable to share, is as important as all the other technical activities lined up for the 4 days of exchange. Right from the beginning, we have to make sure everyone feels that it is an open and safe place to talk and share their ideas and opinions. And we find that ice-breakers, games, making them draw, and fun quizzes help a lot.

Then we also insert some peer moments in the agenda of the peer exchange, and in these peer moments, anybody can tell a story of how things happen in their context, what works, what doesn't. They can also write or draw on a card and we stick all their ideas on the walls for processing later on.

I think though these work because normally there's not a lot of power issues among the peers, for while they come from different organizations, they are mostly in the same level (mostly operations mid-managers).

I wonder how it will work in peer exchanges involving bosses and subordinates. In fact, this is something we're testing out now at the ILO. We have a peer coaching currently going on— a pair of boss and subordinate from an insurance company in South Africa has gone last week to learn from another insurance company in Peru (organized by a boss and subordinate counterpart), and this week, the Peru pair are in South Africa to do the same thing. We have received very positive feedback but I have to dig into the dynamics of the pairs (boss and subordinate). Will get back to all of you on that one later.

Any other thought and ideas on how to make peer learning and exchanges really beneficial for participants from different backgrounds?


Sarah Cummings, Oct 24 2013, Comment on Launch

Hi Nicole, Jasmin, Benedict, Apin and others

I think the subject of your discussion looks very interesting and and I'll certainly be following it, and hopefully contributing.

In the meantime, I just wanted to remind you know that the forthcoming issue of the KM4D Journal - due September and out soon - is on the subject of 'Breaking the boundaries to knowledge integration: society meets science within knowledge management for development' which appears to have some links to your discussion. It links KM4D to transdisciplinary approaches.

You might also be interested in the group from the Cross-cutting huddle at KM4Dev 2009 to be found at:

as well as some resources on Linking knowledge domains from a 2012 meeting:



Paul Corney, Oct 25 2013, Sharing Peer exchange process

Hi Nancy, Jasmin et al, just returned from a week in Teheran working with largest private company.

Had 20 people many who had never met before and wanted to get them to focus on what critical knowledge they had and what they might lose when massive project ends.

Used Reverse Brainstorm which really gave them licence to explore. As a result they now have 1/2 dozen tangible actions to focus on using 9 step knowledge process to ensure they know what is important and worth capturing and what isn't.

Sometimes the less obvious works even in seemingly hostile environments where language us a barrier.


Martina Hetzel, Oct 25 2013, Comment on Visual practices in peer exchanges

Hey Nancy, people didnt learn to "lie" in pictures like they did using words (or lets say: to tell their real opinion). Furthermore: in pictures we choose symbols, and they tell alot. Tina

James Grey, Oct 25 2013, Reply to Julian


I agree with using drawings to facilitate understanding. When we use an A3 to analyse a problem, it is really important to get the team to draw both the current and target states so the whole group sees and understands the concepts as a team. Using large slabs of English does not generate anything like the energy of a group of people constructing a drawing on paper.


Serafin Talisayon, Oct 25 2013, Reply to Sarah - Outline of publication

Dear Sarah,

It may interest you to know that a group of our colleagues from Bangkok, Manila, Beijing and Hongkong, together with Jasmin and Nicole, have been putting together a group of articles which we hoped to publish in some form. These articles (see list below) are in the area of "Transboundary Learning and Innovation".

Can we arrange another issue of KM for Development Journal sometime early next year for this set? As a member of the Board of Editors, I can volunteer to edit this journal issue.

Also, we can invite any member of the KM4Dev community who may have similar experiences or studies to contribute articles.

What do you think?


PS Here are the topics. The authors had given their commitments but we have no writing deadlines set as yet:

1> Employee and Community Ownership of an Enterprise Jose T. Almonte and Serafin D. Talisayon

2> Regional Electricity Trading via the ASEAN Grid (note: needs more research for updating) Serafin D. Talisayon

3> PEMSEA: Transboundary Learning for Managing the Seas of East Asia Stephen Adrian Ross and Nicole Marie C. Afable

4> A Transdisciplinal Appraisal Framework for Social Enterprises Serafin D. Talisayon and Vincent Leung

5> Consumer Capitalism: Shifting Equity Ownership and Wealth Creation to Consumers Chen Yu and Vincent Leung

6> Internet-Mediated Transboundary Learning Communities in Southeast Asia and the Rest of the World: The Case of GEF/UNEP IW:LEARN Khristine R. Custodio

7> Process Lessons from a Practitioner Learning Group of Microinsurance Innovators Jasmin Suministrado

8> Observations and Lessons from the Case Studies (By all chapter authors)

9> Levels of Learning towards a Wedding two Paradigms: Intellectual Capital and Sustainable Development (this will be an attempt towards a theoretical framework) Serafin Talisayon (end of list)

Sarah Cummings, Oct 25 2013, Reply to Serafin

Wow, Apin, what an amazing list of articles! Let's talk about this offlist.



Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 25 2013, Outcomes and results

Wow I can see how much interest and nice experiences we have about the use of drawings and illustrations for peer learning and exchange. And I think it's not just having people draw but using drawings and visuals to facilitate the discussion and sharing. I know this community has tons of examples for this, but let me show one example (see attached) of a visual facilitation tool patterned after the River of Life which I used for the Practitioner Learning Group (PLG) I manage.

At this point though, I'd leave the topic of drawings and steer the discussion a bit towards the results. With the peer learning and exchange interventions you've facilitated, were you happy with the results? What outputs/outcomes have you observed, and how do these compare with your targets? How about your participants? Were they happy with what they got out of it?

In the case of our PLG which involves microinsurance practitioners, our objective is to influence their practice and to provide them with ideas and insights on how they can make their insurance products more valuable for clients. (If you haven't seen the short video, check it out here: ) In other words, our results have to do with the extent to which their practice improves. And yes, I'm happy to say that with the two peer exchanges we've had, we can see how the programs of the participating organizations have changed -- from the smallest thing of having a more graphic brochure to explain to the low income customers the benefits of insurance, to the big and more challenging domain of developing a client-oriented culture among other employees in the insurance companies. But it required facilitation for the participants to get to those interesting improvements. In some cases, this facilitation meant simply giving them the time to reflect and think of what aspects of what they've seen or heard are relevant and can be adapted in their contexts, and in other cases, it meant having a formal or informal session to make them think together and come up with actionable next steps. The real test though is the sustainability of the results, and it will take some time before we can see see if indeed we did a good job.

What about in your case? Would be nice to hear your thoughts.


Yennenga Kompaoré, Oct 25 2013, Challenges with peer exchange processes

Dear Nancy

I sometimes find it more safe to be peer assisted by people "far from me". I'm not afraid to be judged. With persons working in the same office/organisation, I might not be ready to show my weaknesses. Fears, weaknesses, doubts, are very intimate and not every body is ready to expose them to their collegues. With people "far from me", there's no power or cultural context influence.

On the side of the peer-assisters, have you ever tought that not every body is willing to empower his/her collegue? because, they don't see the need, because they are afraid to create concurrence... For example, if i'm very good at fundraising, it doesn't mean i'm ready to "help" my peers also have that talent. Not because I'm a bad guy ! because, maybe I know that empowering people might make me lose my advantage, especially if they turn to be more talented than myself. So that's why i'll feel more secure to empower someone far from me that the person next to my office.

Of course, those attitude are not wishable. But I thing they do exist and have to do with power and cultural context. We learn to share as we experiment the virtues of sharing on ourselves.

On the field, one way of promoting peer assistance, is maybe to value "ignorance" as the condition to learn and make progress. Permanent self questionning leads to peer questionning, which in turn fertilize ideas. On the opposit, knowledge is the best way of stopping progress. Smile.

Next week, I'm facilitating a meeting with rural communities radios animateurs in Niger. The aim is to brainstorm on ways to foster and enhance local interactive content production that can impact farmers lives. I'm a poor drawer and I wont' use drawings as facilitation tools. I'd rather use storybuilding.... How can that be visual? Do I vave to look only for visual tools, what about the other senses : earing, smell, touch... by the way, what's the last one again?... Taste !

I suspect, that like myself, some of the participants, won't feel secure enough to express freely to their peers, they inner fears, doubts, knowledges...So before to tackle with the core subject of the meeting, I think my role will be to create not a ice-breaker, but a ice-maker that will froze all personal interests. Create a new common interest ground around something that might seem far from them. Illogical as some Ads do. You ask yoursels : "what's that?" And at the end you understand.

They expect to attend a meeting on radio. i'm so sorry for them ! Why? because I'm preparing a crazy game party. I'm also preparing a contact list. The meeting is just maybe the seeding part. Things will happen after the facilitator. And then, some of the attendant will contact me, or people on the contact list. Some might even contact their peers to discuss and express their inner questions/ convictions, just the way we are doing with KM4Dev...freely. Not because a hierarchy asks that.

Do you know the publicity tool? You ask participants (in groups or by binomes) to make a publicity to value the other person or group, or organisation.... So they get to learn about the other, they create a publicity message and perform it. Some can decide to use another media to present the publicity : poster, audio... depending on the skills. A goos way to forget ones personnal interest and concentrate on the other...

I hope that this contribution helps.


Ryan Rowe, Oct 25 2013, Feedback on Yennenga's insights

Hello all,

I was reading Yennenga’s insightful comments – in particular “empowering people might make me lose my advantage” really hit home with me.

Two things I wanted to feed back on:

A few years ago I worked for a company which in its employee orientation and refresher trainings on core values and employee ethics promoted a virtue of “Not thinking of oneself as indispensable”. This helped create a culture of sharing and learning from each other at that company – which it did well. How did this virtue achieve this? Well, we would be considered less competitive in the workplace unless we engaged in a process of continuous learning. Anyone who guarded their expertise - anyone who thought they were the only one who could get the job done - was seen as detrimental to the organisation’s success and therefore replaceable!

The second thing I want to say is that good organisations encourage delegation of duties between managers/employees and senior/junior employees to increase capacity, improve productivity and promote employee professional development. Part of this is sharing our expertise so that they can benefit from our experience. If we are afraid to give away our knowledge of how to achieve success (and avoid failure) then we are slowing down organizational success, and that ultimately reflects on the manager anyway. I believe this also applies our work in development/WASH not just within organisations but between them.

Some might call it intuitive to guard the expertise and qualities that make us competitive in the workplace/academia – I prefer to call it fear.

Best wishes,

Ryan Rowe

Lucie Lamoureux, Oct 25 2013, Disinterested participants

Hi everyone,

This is a discussion that is also quite close to my heart as a facilitator of those peer exchange processes. Power, cultural and gender issues are always present and it's really important to try to take them into account as much as possible.

I want to pursue a bit re. what Yennenga is raising about people who just don't want to be involved in such processes. Or the ones that, like in Catherine's example, feel that this type of interaction is either beneath them, or completely uninteresting (BTW, Catherine, I have a similar experience where in an Open Space, I was asking a person why had "tuned out", he responded, "these topics are all stupid and not the ones we should be discussing...").

So for whatever reason, some people don't want to share and I've struggled a lot trying to do something to engage these people. Trying to develop a more trusting atmosphere doesn't work (i.e. icebreakers, games, etc.), it actually often just makes them retreat even more! You can't force people to share their experiences with others, you have to respect that. I think we just need to focus on the people who DO. And be very clear that the purpose of the exercise/initiative/workshop, etc. is peer exchange about topics X, Y and Z and explain clearly what the format will be. The people who truly hate this will hopefully stay away! And if they do show up, I try to encourage them to propose topics they want to talk about, even if they can end up lecturing more than anything. It's just not a given that people enjoy these informal, horizontal, and in the end, very social types of interactions.

Thanks for the great discussion thread(s)! Lucie

Julian Goh, Oct 25 2013, Powerpoints

Dear James,

I use power point slides to draw up my concept and have them communicate with the peers.

I found the advantage of using ppts is that I am able to rearrange the sequence of my concept at a later time when I discover something more interest I want to convey, let along my peers to insert their slides between mine too.

When this process goes to and for several times, the concept becomes clearer.

I don't know if i can find other available tools similar to ppts.

Pete Cranston, Oct 25 2013, Examples of non-visual support


This gets more interesting still, thanks Yennenga. You took some of the words off my fingers in writing about non-visual support for peer-learning processes. Music and drama have been used for years in various kinds of peer-learning, most usually when working at community level, but there’s no reason why such ideas can’t be extended to groups of middle managers, for example.

I take the point from a number of contributions about not scaring people, making them defensive and negative by threatening dignity through games and such, but isn’t that’s the skill of the facilitator/broker - judging what activity to use when, to thaw the ice, or encourage people to step away from security, even a little.

Two examples:

  • I remember with delight a serious, weighty event organised by IICD some time ago. They engaged people to teach us to juggle, for an hour or so. There were lots of suits and ties about, and some people bonded simply through complaining, but doing something completely new, and a physical activity, levelled playing fields and put us in touch with what it feels like to learn and be clumsy - all of us. I don’t know what the evaluation said but there was a lot of laughter, and moments of personal triumph. We all sat down again a bit different to who we’d been before
  • in small groups I’ve used variations of role-play, or 'sitting in another’s chair’ type activities. In the former, someone brings an issue - or a common issue is surfaced, and then the ‘subject(s) leave the room while the others prepare a kind of script. Coming back into the room the group play through a conversation, ask questions etc, in role: stepping out of your own role gives people confidence sometimes to express things in the way that people do when they draw, indirectly or more subtly

The ‘in another chair’ situation is very much focusing on one person, asking someone to sit in the chair to answer talk through the issue to a supportive group, who ask questions, and then, once the chair is removed, all share their reflections. So it’s only partially a role play but it’s a powerful way to engage in the kind of empathetic processes at the heart of trust and learning


Eva Schiffer, Oct 25 2013, Creating learning experiences

Hi Lucie, Your comment relates to something I have been thinking about a lot and that is that we intuitively try to create learning opportunities that we would enjoy as a learner. Which is great because it can lead to very joyful experiences. And which is dangerous because the experience might only be joyful to people who have the same learning style. I have a number of friends whose perfect day at work is one where no one interrupts them as they sit in front of the computer and dig really deep in an area of their expertise. For them having discussions with groups of people on issues that were decided on on the spot and where the people in the room have very different levels of expertise and thus the discussion might be less structured, jump from one corner of the issue to the other and in general is not as "expertly" and deep as their thoughts alone in front of their computer could be... is a waste of time and not very enjoyable. Typical "Icebreakers" and other activities that are intended to lighten the mood and warm up the group tend to be even more frustrating to them, because they don't have any of the content that my friends would be interested in. When they tune out or show frustration, this is not because they are nasty, don't want to support others or want to torpedo the facilitators.

I am on the other end of the spectrum, a day in front of the computer without human interaction is not a joyful one for me. So I am wondering: How can we construct peer learning processes that cater to the different learning styles of our group members and get them engaged on the terms that they all feel most comfortable on. Those of our members who recognized themselves in my description above: Would you do us the favor to give us more of an insight of what a peer exchange has to be like to make you feel comfortable and that it is worth your time? Cheers

Lucie Lamoureux, Oct 25 2013, Reply to Pete

On 25/10/2013 5:07 PM, Pete Cranston wrote:

I take the point from a number of contributions about not scaring people, making them defensive and negative by threatening dignity through games and such, but isn’t that’s the skill of the facilitator/broker - judging what activity to use when, to thaw the ice, or encourage people to step away from security, even a little.

Hi Pete,

It's absolutely the role of a facilitator, except that when you start a workshop with an icebreaker, your group is most often than not like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get ;-) I've had a guy at the back of the room, arms-crossed, telling me, "I don't do icebreakers". This is what I mean as an example of not to force it, no good can come of getting this person to join in if he doesn't want to.


Eva Schiffer, Oct 25 2013, Tips on doing something visual

Hi Yennenga, That sounds like a great party I would love to be part of. And I agree with you that sometimes your direct colleagues are not the best people to show weakness to or to ask for empowerment. One problem is that they will remember - and might turn it against you in the future...

Just two brief tips if you are interested in doing something visual but afraid that you won't be drawing the most beautiful pictures under the pressure of everyone watching you: 1. Imperfect drawing lowers the bar and empowers everyone to participate in drawing, even if they feel like they are no artists. They will think: If it is o.k. to draw such crazy limping stick figures... I can do that too! 2. If you don't want to take the risk of drawing limping stick figures underpressure, prepare props. I have started using pre-drawn people on post-its that I can move around on flip-charts to illustrate or discuss a point. I have time to draw, correct, pick the nicest ones in my office beforehand and then use them with the group. An example is here: Good luck, Eva

Charles Dhewa, Oct 25 2013, Other senses


Your reference to other senses has just reminded me of amazing skills that were part of my life as a child in rural Zimbabwe. With my peers, we did amazing things using clay mud - moulding 'bulls' and then hardening them with fire so that they don't break during 'bull fights'. All those skills died off when we enrolled for formal education.

Today, there are rural grandmothers who produce incredible claypot as an expression of their talents. I wouldn't ask such people to draw anything but carve things with mud.

We often forget the role of our various senses in knowledge/talent expression among peers.

Pete Cranston, Oct 25 2013, Facilitation issues


Lucie, you’re right of course, and it’s maybe something we should have up our sleeve when we begin to talk about the Facilitation issue of the KM4Dev Journal, thinking both from

  • the point of view of the facilitator - how DO you cope with those people -often senior - who ‘attend’ but sit at the back and email, drift in late, establishing their status by their right not to join in - and complicating further the power balance and trust/open-ness issues
  • the perspective of the arm-folder, and the rest of the group: do you offer him the first chocolate?

Nancy White, Oct 27 2013, Collaboration over time

Yennenga, belated thanks for your insights. I am taking them to heart in so many ways.

I just got through working with a group of 130 leaders of communities of practice. This is our third gathering (their fourth - I missed one) and I really noticed a much greater sense of collaboration across CoPs than we saw at the start. I think they felt competitive at the onset, but realizing the mutual value they could create together -- and getting to know and trust each other - has made a big difference.

As a really open person, I have to be careful not to forget that others may need more time for trust building before sharing. I make that mistake of forgetting that... at my own peril!

To build on Jasmin's comment about results, the above story about collaboration over time -- this group instead of building 130 individual programs of knowledge events for 2014 collaboratively built a calendar that aggregated all their events and looked for areas of joint promotion, and even joint production of learning events. That would have been impossible 2 years ago....

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 27 2013, Wrapping up Week 1

Thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences, insights, challenges, and ideas on this topic of "Peer learning and exchange" as it relates to our main focused conversation topic "Transboundary learning and innovation". The discussions were quite inspiring and useful -- makes one reflect even more on what we do as facilitators and organizers of such exchange activities.

There are still so many aspects of this topic that can be explored and discussed, but I'm afraid I'll have to wrap up this thread now, as we prepare for the next topic on "Innovative tracking and visual mapping in conflict-prone areas" which will be launched on Monday, the 28th with resource person Benedict Rimando.

We're preparing a summary of the first week's discussion and will send it to the community soon after this mail. We're also preparing an entry in the KS Toolkit on Peer Learning and Exchange. We'll announce it as soon as ready. Stay tuned!

Regards, Jasmin

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Oct 27 2013, Dgroups

Hi Nancy and all,

I would be interested to hear more about your work with CoP facilitators. Here on Dgroups, we have hundreds of groups (including KM4Dev), and currently our main activity in terms of knowledge sharing is to hold periodic webinars about (once every 3-4 months) where individual organisations describe "how we use Dgroups". I am sure we could be doing much more.

From a user perspective, closer cooperation among facilitators would be wonderful, not least to signpost people across to related forums with different scopes. Indeed, we (collectively) do not make it easy for users to browse the CoP "ecosystem" and select the forum they want/need. We are aware the Dgroups platform itself is not well designed for this, and are actively looking into ways of making it more user-friendly.

Nicole Afable, Oct 28 2013, Summary of Week 1

Summary of Week 1 Inline image 1 Dear KM4Dev Community,

Let me share the summary of this week’s discussion on “Transboundary learning and innovation for development.”

The topic of the week was “Peer learning and exchange in the area of financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.” Jasmin, the resource person for the week, shared her experience with the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility in designing and conducting a peer learning intervention that brings together microinsurance practitioners from around the world to share their experiences and lessons in improving client value (see video at This exchange is not just a powerful tool for organizations to learn from each other but it also facilitates collective problem solving as the lessons are applied to the case of organization hosting the event.

The community discussion revolved around the key questions that the resource person raised, plus a lot more. Here are some of the key points that were discussed:

Design elements critical to the success of peer learning/exchange activities

  • There are different kinds of peer learning and exchange interventions. The community shared different examples of peer learning activities ranging from: face to face meetings such as the practitioner learning group of the ILO and the Focus Plant of Alcoa, as explained by James; online networks such as Dgroups as explained by Neil, and the SNS Mobee Knowledge CoP, as elaborated by Md Santo; and a combination of both face to face and online networks like the Learning Lab, as Stacey shared. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages--face to face meetings can facilitate hands on problem solving, online networks bring together a larger number and wider range of peers, combining in-person and online sustains the connection among peers; but face to face meetings can be costly and online networks have a high number of free riders and lurkers.
  • Establish learning agenda or objectives that cover the identified problem that the peer learning and exchange will address. As James explained, considerable preparations need to be made even before the peer learning of exchange is implemented. Preparations include setting the objectives and gathering all relevant information on it. The objectives of the activity, which is then converted into the learning plan, have to align with the question or problem that is trying to be solved, whether improving on a gap in a business process, improving accountability and transparency or achieving organizational goals. This ensures that the activity itself will be focused on the task at hand.
  • Time for reflection allows participants to dig into the root of the issue. Another strategy of effective facilitation would be allotting more interaction time for participants to reflect and think about how what they’ve learned from each other is relevant and adapted to their own situations and contexts as Jasmin observed in PLG peer exchanges. This collective brainstorming and “thinking out loud” among people with different backgrounds and languages allows the group to reach next steps with more depth and perspective as Nancy and Paul shared.
  • Effective facilitation is crucial in ensuring the success of peer learning and exchange. Not only does facilitation entail being an expert of learning strategies and practices, as Stacey pointed out, but being knowledgeable of which situations it is best applied. The role of facilitators also includes encouraging sharing and interaction among participants by being aware of and breaking down barriers that limit it as Yennenga and Lucie pointed out. Some of the identified barriers include lack of trust and security, individual self-interests and established perspectives and mindset. As Ryan explained, these barriers must be removed to create a culture of sharing and learning. There are different activities and strategies that facilitators use to ease engagement among participants.

Peer learning processes and methods appropriate to the learning styles of participants

  • The use of visual tools can facilitate understanding among participants from different backgrounds. Through drawing and using symbols, peers are able to express themselves without differently defined words and language barriers as Julian, Nadejda, Nancy, Eva and Martina discussed. Using pictures and images also enables peers to interact on a more personal level as the selection of symbols can tell a lot about the person. Also, explaining the illustration they have created allows them to further elaborate their thought process. Tools that appeal to other senses can also explored, as shared by Yennenga and Charles.
  • Icebreaker (or icemaker) activities have the potential of creating a trusting but should be carefully designed with participant background in mind. As Pete, Jasmin and Lucie explained, ice breaker activities have the potential to make participants more comfortable with each other and lessen their apprehensions to participate in the learning and exchange activities. But knowing what kind of activity to use with different kinds of participants is important, as there may be some participants who are hesitant to join such activities, as Lucie sometimes encounters. A goal can be to remove participants from their comfort zones but not too much as it could offend them and make them even more defensive. Icebreakers can also serve as a way to temporarily ‘freezes’ the self-interest of peers and place them on common interest and understanding, as Yennenga plans to do while facilitating a meeting in Nigeria.
  • Storytelling and role-playing activities can also encourage more insightful interaction from participants. Aside from enabling participants to look at things from a different perspective or mind-set, these types of activities that make them to step out of their actual roles and responsibilities enable them to express themselves with more confidence, as Pete explained. The more reflective insights they share, the more learning can be facilitated.

Success factors and challenges in making peer learning and exchanges beneficial to participants

  • Sustained communication, through in-person or online interaction, builds trust and ensures the sustainability and follow through of the outcomes, as Stacey shared. Learning is a continuous process. A community of practice that is given the platforms or channels that allow them to stay in touch and continuously share lessons and insights can maximize the potential of synergy and collaboration. Open channels of communication among participants also allows for follow ups on how the peer learning and exchange intervention has impacted their organizations over time.
  • As Catherine elaborated, reaching a common understanding among participants can be difficult, particularly when bringing together peers who have different mother tongues and working languages, but different meanings for shared terms also happens within groups that share a common language yet come from different backgrounds. Bringing together peers from different backgrounds and countries can bring about innovative solutions to shared problems but there is always the potential for misunderstandings. Facilitators are tasked with encouraging participants to explain what they mean and where they are coming from. This process helps the participants reach common ground on shared issues situations.

Outcomes and results

  • Peer learning can result in greater collaboration, though it needs time to build. As Nancy shared, it took four gatherings for a group of communities of practice leaders to demonstrate a greater sense of collaboration across the community. It takes time for practitioners to get to know and trust each other to be able to set aside self-interest and competition and share freely. Once they are more comfortable with each other and realize the mutual value of collaboration, Nancy was able to observe a big difference in their interaction.
  • By influencing practitioners and providing them with ideas and insights, peer exchanges have the potential to improve practice. As Jasmin shared, the peer exchange of microinsurance practitioners resulted in the small thing like the improvement of promotional material to the big and more complex domain of developing a more client-oriented culture.
  • The results and its sustainability may take time to be realized. As Stacey explained, arriving at the complex and encompassing issues and concerns could only happen later, after collaboration is more firmly cemented and shared agendas and plans are in the process of implementation. Facilitation and sustained connected in necessary to arrive at this point.

Thank you to all the contributors for taking the time to participate in our insightful discussions. You can still post any last messages related to this thread, but the focus of the conversation for this week now shifts to, "Learning from conflict mapping" which will be launched by Benedict soon after this email.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for a toolkit page detailing peer learning and exchange in the KS toolkit website. We’ll let you know when it’s uploaded.

Best regards, Nicole Afable Jasmin Suministrado Benedict Rimando Serafin Talisayon

John Smith, Oct 28 2013, Summarization tips

Dear Jasmin and all others considering the pleasures of summarization:

A week or two ago I began quizzing Ana Maria Ponce about how she went about summarizing the HimalAndes conversation. I was intrigued by the skill and insight in her actions that seemed relatively “invisible” (and as I quizzed her repeatedly there was more and more to it). I gathered her email comments into a Google Doc which she then commented on. As I moved it over to a wiki page, I made further edits.

Here for your use and improvements is: .

All suggestions are welcome (including pointers to existing pages covering the same material which may be there but which I couldn’t find  :-)


Benedict Rimando, Oct 28 2013, Learning Through Conflict Mapping

Dear KM4Dev community members,

We are in our second week of our focused conversation on transboundary learning and innovation. Last week, the community reflected on the various facets of peer learning and exchange, with the discussion kicked off by the experience of the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility of bringing people of various nationalities and cultures to learn from one another. This week, we will focus on learning that takes place in the context of conflict, from community-level and non-violent conflicts to violent ones.

Learning through conflict mapping During the week, I will be presenting a few ways by which people can learn from one another in a situation of conflict particularly when a mapping exercise is done and I hope that you can also share your own experiences, insights, comments, questions and lessons.

We recall the problematique that the facilitators of the KM4Dev conversation are presenting: “Enculturated mental fences that people construct among themselves by which they separate themselves from ‘others’ give rise to problems and conflicts. Hence, facilitating a learning process that cuts across entrenched affiliations, powerful interest groupings and other delimiting boundaries would be an interesting approach” (cf. the comment of Prof. Serafin Talisayon on the present focus conversation on Oct. 22). We want to explore the ways in which such learning processes can take place considering situations when people are tied up to the boundaries of their own group and they have to deal with other groups of people.

There are various ways that learning can take place in a situation of conflict, and it could take place when the various interest groups are brought together to understand one another and in the process learn from one another. To give an example of such a process, today we will see the experience of an NGO called Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace or MedNet[1].

After reading the featured experience from MedNet, maybe you can also share your own experiences of mapping the boundaries that people wrap around themselves whether in a situation of overt conflict or even in situations when the mental boundaries tend to create tension or latent conflict among the people involved and how learning can be facilitated in these situations.

Benedict Rimando Peacebuilding Advisor Geneva, Switzerland

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 29 2013, Reply to summarization tips

Thanks for collecting tips on summarizing from Ana Maria. The page you just created on the wiki is quite useful in fact. We've also just released our summary of week 1 and this will also be up in the wiki soon. We're observing many of the good practices you cited, and it does help a lot. However, some of the tips are unique to the nature of the HimalAndes focused conversation. The current conversation is carried out quite differently (not revolving around cases and arriving at recommendations). It is instead more on experience sharing on three very different topics and tools, and focuses on getting more insights and good practices from the community. I'm happy to share other good practices in summarizing this kind of focused conversation when we've finished.

In the meantime, enjoy the focused conversation everyone! May it trigger insights and questions for sharing and further discussion!

Valerie Brown, Oct 29, 2013, Comment on Summary of Week 1

Dear Sarah and Lucie and the transboundary discussion group, The excellent discussion on transboundary learning has spurred me on to to finalise the piece on the practice of collective learning from Brown VA and Lambert JA "Collective learning for transformational change. A guide to collaborative action" London Routledge 2012, in ebook and paperback on Amazon. I promised this to the KM4Dev network way back in May. This piece is short enough to escape copyright issues if it goes on the full network. I hope it can contribute to transboundary practice. Regards Val

Nicole Afable, Oct 30 2013, Divisions within a community

Hi Benedict,

Thanks for sharing the case of Conflict Mapping for Multi-stakeholder conflicts by MedNet.

Who knew that building a hydroelectric power plant would not only create environmental problems but could create conflict within communities as well?

Many megaprojects like building powerplants and dams, usually at a cost as not only is the environment destroyed, but communities are affected as well.

As this case highlights, communities cannot be lumped into a singular entity. Divisions within a community are intensified when there is a looming threat, heightening tensions that can quickly turn into conflict.

By mapping out the positions, interests and motivations of the groups within the community, the different stakeholders were able to understand each other’s perspective and a more appropriate dispute resolution process was achieved.

I’d love to hear of other experiences where projects implemented for development and progress sparked issues and conflict that was eventually resolved with the help of tools like mapping!

Benedict Rimando, Oct 30 2013, Tri-peoples approach

Hello Nicole!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mega-projects indeed represent a difficult issue especially when it belongs a grand economic plan by those who hold enormous power and interest. Environmental consequences often result and need to be looked into as well. I hope some of the community members have experienced dealing with issues like these and how the differences of view and position were handled.

Regarding the MedNet experience, one of the factors in the learning process was the positive role of faith-based groups. It is to be noted that among the stakeholders were the Church and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society both of whom participated in the consensus- building process. In the context of southern Philippines, a big consideration is also the interest of the Indegenous people. Here, the Manobo indigenous people were a major group. Indeed, the tri-peoples approach is very important in Mindanao. Here is an article from a local paper that featured the process while it was ongoing:

I hope that the community can share their experiences of situations when projects that had an impact on the environment with various groups staking an interest in the matter had to be handled; or of cases when faith-based groups either facilitated or perhaps complicated the process and how this was dealt with. Lastly, perhaps they can share their experiences when issues dealing with groups of various cultures were involved, including the presence of Indigenous peoples and Minority groups.

Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 30 2013, Network analysis and [Conversation] conflict mapping

Hi everyone,

Very interesting discussion on the social network analysis. And as this thread resurfaced while we're discussing conflict mapping in our focused conversation, I can't help but wonder if the SNA is also a tool that can plot power relationships and potential conflicting interests among players? It's just a curious question, though I know the SNA is primarily used for networks.

Thanks for your thoughts, jasmin

Andrea Bardelli Danieli, Oct 30 2013, SNA to understand power relationships

Hello Jasmin,

I guess the point made by some here was that 'mainstream' SNA may perhaps not be the best tool for this (understanding power relationships), or at least insufficient in some respects (good to sketch what ties look like, but perhaps less on what actually goes through those ties) - at least in its traditional, mainly quant-based form.

There are certainly some very interesting alternative takes on issues of power in networks - you could perhaps have a look at some of the stuff produced within the 'policy networks' literature (in particular interpretive policy network analysis - very focused also on alternative interpretations of power), and - if you are in any way fond of plunging into a certain level of conceptual complexity (not always best when approaching 'applied' goals as often in dev) - actor-network theory.

Jaap Pels, Oct 30 2013, Shared guidelines and network picture

Hi SNA-ers,

Have a look at

A network picture of power / relations / decision making at

Cheers, Jaap

Eva Schiffer, Oct 30 2013, SNA map conflicts

Hi Jasmin, Yes, Social Network Analysis (SNA), especially when used in a participatory and engagement-oriented way can be used to map out conflicts and work on them. One general clarification: There are two ways of using the term network. One is to say "KM4Dev is a network" meaning we are a loosely connected group of people without formal hierarchy. When we say social network analysis, the definition of network is much broader than that, it is any constellation of actors that are connected by any kind of links. So it can be the inside of a formal organization. And it can be that you want to map out "who has a conflict with whom" - then their connection is having a conflict. As was said earlier, a lot of network analysis only focuses on one kind of link/connection. But especially in our area and when looking at conflict, I don't think that makes a lot of sense. Because conflict does not exist in an empty space and conflict resolution also doesn't exist in an empty space either. If I were to map out a conflict I would propose to map out for example the links of conflict, trust, money flow and formal hierarchy. In the tension between these four you can find a lot of explanations for why the conflict is there and some ideas about possible ways forward. Cheers Eva

Serafin Talisayon, Oct 30 2013, Preview of next topic

Hi Andy, Jasmin and Julian,

The tool I will introduce in next week's Conversation will deal with the relationships between scope of power/influence and scope of interest/beneficiary group, and how we can innovate or redefine -- and have been redefining -- the boundaries of those scopes. This tool is interestingly related to the stakeholder mapping tool that Benedict has introduced in this week's Conversation; but I think his tool is more than stakeholder mapping, but mapping for the purpose of mediation and conflict resolution. Did I interpret you correctly, Benedict?

If our goal is better and more sustainable peace and development (e.g. understanding and reducing or preventing conflicts), learning from each other in this KM4Dev community about what solutions work in our various experiences and contexts is I think very important. It is to me an exciting and worthwhile kind of learning.

I am also interested to know more about the "interfaith competition" that Juian mentioned pertaining to a hydroelectric power project in southern Philippines.


Julian Goh, Oct 30 2013, Sarawak report

Dear Dr. Serafin,

Please take a quick look at this report happening in Sarawak, your neigboring nation which I supposed not 'far' from the address in your email.

This news is still new just out yesterday.

With one protest held in London, stopping foreign investors to Malaysia (read the stories), other link stories you can connect from here With your background back home, you can get a-piece of picture about energy-crazies in South East Asia right now.

After that, I will focus on companies which involved in those structures constructions, then again, I will give analysis about the background of every individuals link to those interests.

Your 'interfaith competitions' shall find an answer.

Project management knowledge cannot help.

Serafin Talisayon, Oct 30 2013, Reply to Julian

Thanks, Julian.

The protests by local people against the Baram Dam in Sarawak is similar to those against the Chico River Dam more than 3 decades ago in northern Philippines.

As part of our Focused Conversation on transboundary learning and innovation, I will share a video presentation next week on the Chico River Dam issue.


Jasmin Suministrado, Oct 30 2013, SNA to map conflict

Thanks Eva, Jaap, and Andy!

So my next wonder is, if the SNA has been used to map out different kinds of conflicts and power issues, how has the resulting map/analysis affected the resolution of the conflict/issues? Are there specific examples of how a mapping output and analysis helped in mediating or resolving conflicts? In your experience, how powerful is such a tool in facilitating the resolution of issues and helping the stakeholders learn from each other and arrive at/accept resolutions?

Are there examples of other tools that can be used for this purpose?

thanks again, jasmin

Martina Hetzel, Oct 30 2013, Comment on Summary of Week 1

Governance level

Hey Nicole and everybody reading the focused conversations, Thank you for the summary!

I sometimes have the problem that I find it difficult to understand some discussions here (maybe more the academic ones) . Lets say: when reading I stumble over the already quite long, nested, sophisticated title. I notice some kind of clash between practical work (no time! my needs! what the hell means this?) and academic worlds ...

My questions: How do emerge subjects of this series of focused conversations? Who decides? And why is there suddenly this focused conversation? May be I missed the introducing on this level (and I apologize)

It would help me if: - responsables could explain and introduce always the governance level (Phillipp was a very good example, there was a joint governance level before entering in the content. Result: I feel part of the process) - At the beginning of a new topic it would help me very much if there are links to good basic method descriptions. I asked me for example: what is a peer exchange exactly? Do I do it in my work with another name? (I guess so)

In this context I really appreciated your summary, the summary gave me the chance to enter and to learn (although it was the end).

I think joint design and feedback loops (governance level) are very important in learning processes. It guarantees over time quality. I facilitated alot of "collegial advices" (best method I know/practiced; name I use: "kollegiale Beratung", "asesoria entre colegas"), part of this great method are these loops, always. And I learned a lot of it: it helps "forming group - forming content".

Waving, Tina

Julian Goh, Oct 30 2013, Sarawak issues

Dear Sir,

Maybe Sarawak issues a bit complex. Of involving two greater forces in Europe, mrs. brown and swiss foundation.

Jaap Pels, Oct 30 2013, Steps for network analysis

Hi All, Step one in empowerment / learning / consuming is to come to grips with a situation. Taking note / drawing the (causal) relationships is a first step. Step two is making sense. Chears, Jaap

John Smith, Oct 30 2013, Count of discussions

Hi Jasmin,

Each of these focused conversations seems unique and kind of amazing! I thought you (and others on the list) might be interested in this tally of all the conversations that have been summarized on the Wiki:

Count of Discussions.png Source: KM4Dev Wiki:

To me it’s very impressive! All of us “readers” owe a debt of gratitude to Davide Piga who set up this system of discussion summaries and to every single person who summarizes a discussion (“focused” or wide ranging) and of course to all those who contribute.

I just now did this count as part of my IFAD Funded studies synthesis --

Benedict Rimando, Oct 31 2013, LRA crisis tracker

Conversation : Transboundary learning and innovation Week 2 topic : Learning through conflict mapping

Dear KM4Dev community members,

So far, for this week’s topic, some very interesting comments, questions and insights are being shared by the community members. There has also been some exchanges on the connections established between conflict mapping and SNA. Other questions related to conflict mapping in relation to big environmental projects, and also the role of faith in the dynamics of group relationships. Some insights refer to the power dynamics at play in relationships. Next week, a new tool to look at these relationships will also be discussed.

In a few days, I will also show another tool that also maps conflict but in terms of conflict assessment.

But for the moment, I would like to call your attention to the experience of Invisible children and resolve who work around the issue of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) issue in central Africa. The group uses a visual mapping tool called the LRA crisis tracker. Our focus in looking at this tool will be more on how the use of a visual crisis tracker that assesses the crisis across the physical boundaries of different countries also allows for a wider understanding on the issue and promotes learning, both in terms of response to the issue, as well as in the use itself of the tool.

The LRA crisis tracker is inspired by the Ushahidi crisis information tracker with the innovation that instead of the usual crowdsourcing technology, this uses the early-warning radio networks in the field to obtain and generate data.

The crisis tracker can be seen at the website:

The use of this tool is explained in the following interview of John Beaton, developed of the project:

After looking at the crisis tracker or listening to the interview, maybe you might like to continue sharing your own approaches and your own experiences in dealing with conflict, whether conflict that goes beyond physical borders, as in the case of the LRA, or of conflict that goes across varied boundaries, including cultural, ethnic, religious, political, class or other boundaries – perhaps with a focus on how learning is facilitated in the process and what innovations were used or introduced.

Again, lots of thanks for the wonderful sharing going on!


Benedict Rimando, Oct 31 2013, Dynamics of conflict

Dear Julian,

Thanks a lot for informing us of the Sarawak mega-dam issue.

It is precisely in issues like this that consensus-building processes are needed before actual operations are started. We do not want a repeat of the Chico Dam river project of which Prof. Talisayon has promised to show a video which resulted in some forms of violence. In the Sarawak issue, apparently, the rights of the Baram natives apparently have not been respected, according to the news reports. It is also a case that shows in many respects the power relations and the interests that are at work, enabling a certain understanding of the situation. Cases like this allow for a good illustration of the dynamics of conflict. In analyzing conflict, some groups do conflict analysis and others do conflict assessment. We will be looking at one case shortly.

In the meantime, any other ideas from the community regarding how you analyze or assess conflicts?


Nancy White, Oct 31 2013, More on CoP facilitation

Hiya Neil

The organization has invested in the annual gatherings, a luxury most development organizations seem to miss (or IS it a luxury?) . It has taken quite a while to see how the cross CoP activities have value (and you should know, they are also united to deal with constant organizational change -- so it might be something like uniting against a common threat!)

I'm not sure that being a DGroup facilitator or admin is enough of a common domain to get to wanting to do things together. I can see wanting to learn, but there is also the relationship side of CoPs. What I noticed in the group of CoP leaders I'm working with is that some really are building relationships across, but certainly not all. So it seems there is some minimum number of people who want to engage, but it doesn't take them all.

Is there some subset of CoP leaders that might want to engage more?


Nicole Afable, Oct 31 2013, Interorganizational conflict

Hi Benedict,

Can these tools that analyze and assess conflicts be applied to a smaller scale like conflict within organizations or between organizations?

While these issues do not cross national boundaries, these kind of issues cross boundaries that distinguish us from the other, like departments and divisions within an institution, specialized agencies under an umbrella organization or competing enterprises in the same field.

Inter-organizational conflict rarely results to violence but prolonged tensions can cause detriment to the organization as a whole, common social issue or agenda or consumers.

Has anyone dealt with an inter-organizational conflict before? What helped analyze and asses the conflict? I'd love to hear how it was eventually resolved?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Nicole

Julian Goh, Nov 1 2013, Conflict

Dear Ben,

To me, a conflict has clear objective to be defensed by one side. For example, a functional conflict of a whole system which is dislocate the entire affected community, then it is threatening their existence.

I have a few slides published in my presentation in slide#15, you can find them in, looking for my name

For the case in Sarawak, the more I look at it, the more I suspect the objective is uncleared. Whilst the other side, which is the government in this case, is lacking of transparency in handling this case.

We only obtain our information through third-party news, which I have doubt about their reliability.

So, what is the conflict here?

If the indigenous group say the project does not benefiting them in term of financial, that i can accept. However, if the government wants to rehabilitate them to new settlement residentials, I think that is a mere excuse because, providing opportunities to enrich people is the government's obligations.

Therefore, in my opinion, they should make clear in their stance if this is a so-called a conflict in Sarawak, otherwise, we have better word preference. And we can face it.

Benedict Rimando, Nov 1 2013, Making Sense of Turbulent Contexts

Hello everyone!

I hope you were able to look at the visual crisis tracker developed by the organizations Invisible Children and Resolve on the LRA crisis which plots the information on the crisis that goes across the boundaries of four countries in central Africa. Any comments are very much welcome. (see

As I mentioned yesterday, I wish also to share today the conflict assessment tool called Making Sense of Turbulent Contexts (MSTC), mainly being used by the international NGO World Vision International and its partners. International development agencies are increasingly developing conflict assessment frameworks (CAFs) to increase conflict sensitivity in their programming.

The MSTC tool allows for an assessment of a regional or a national conflict with the difference that it brings together participants that may represent various ethnic or cultural groups, political persuasions or faith affiliations in a space of three days and a half and the learning that takes place during this time can bring out very good concrete humanitarian, developmental or advocacy programming recommendations.

See a summary of the tool here [2]

And for an academic discussion comparing the MSTC with the Problem-solving workshops, see the following:

I would appreciate your views, comments and suggestions on the MSTC as a tool for learning by bringing people with their own boundaries yet the process helping them to transcend those borders to create strategic learning.

Thanks a lot!


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Nov 1 2013, More on CoPs

Hi Nancy,

"The organization has invested in the annual gatherings, a luxury most development organizations seem to miss (or IS it a luxury?) . It has taken quite a while to see how the cross CoP activities have value (and you should know, they are also united to deal with constant organizational change -- so it might be something like uniting against a common threat!)"

Are you dealing with several CoPs administered by a single organisation?

There is a parallel with the above in that the Dgroups Foundation holds annual partners meetings (our next one will be on 16 January in Utrecht, Netherlands), and we also hold Peer Exchange meetings by web conference every 3-4 months.

"Is there some subset of CoP leaders that might want to engage more?"

From our experience with Dgroups Peer Exchanges, many CoPs are keen to engage more with other CoPs, if only to share experience and different approaches to using the Dgroups platform.

In addition, I believe that many of us share a common purpose - and indeed a shared responsibilitiy - to work together to improve communication for development, through the application of virtual communities such as Dgroups (as well as other approaches). There are thousands of CoPs concerned with communication for development, forming a global ecosystem. We need to be asking the question: "What can we - CoP facilitators - do better, not only to bring maximum benefit to the members of the CoP for which we are responsible, but also to increase the effectiveness of the CoP ecosystem as a whole?

I would like to flag up three areas for improvement (there are many others): 1. Sharing experience and lessons learned (as in Dgroups Peer exchange sessions, and also as in the ongoing flow of this KM4Dev dgroup). (I see KM4Dev as the natural "home" for all these discussions) 2. Making it easier for people to know what CoPs are available, and which might be most useful for them to join. 3. Increased communication between the facilitators of CoPs that have similar or closely related scope, to discuss whether/how to cooperate and/or cross-pollinate. For example, HIFA2015 (which deals with the information needs of health workers in LMICs) cooperates with e-Drug (which deals with the need for essential medicines in LMICs) and Infratech (which deals with the need for medical equipment in LMICs).

Best wishes, Neil

Benedict Rimando, Nov 2 2013, Conflict and mediation

Hello Nicole !

Thanks a lot for your interesting question.

The particular tool used by the Mediators Network (MedNet) in conflict mapping is actually used to assess the motivations, positions and underlying interests and needs of persons or groups, oftentimes in cases when they are asked to do mediation or dispute resolution. It is often part on the initial part in the dispute resolution process. Not all conflict mapping activities end in mediation or dispute resolution but it can determine what kind of process can ensue.

The conflict-mapping tool can actually be applied to two parties, be it two organizations, two groups of people or two individuals. It is of course very useful in multi-stakeholder conflicts involving various parties as shown in the case.

There are issues when two organizations are not able to meet the stipulations of their contract and this can lead to a conflict. Hence at times, during the contract-making, a clause is included enjoining the two parties to explore mediation as a first option and in these cases, MedNet is designated as the mediator.

Any other ideas on Nicole’s question?


Caroliza Tulod-Peteros, Nov 2 2013, Explaining interfaith competition in conflict

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for featuring the conflict mapping case of a hydropower project in Mindanao undertaken by Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet). The exchanges have been interesting and I am encouraged to participate so I joined the KM4Dev network.

Just a brief introduction of myself, for the benefit of KM4Dev members. I am a conflict resolution practitioner and a member of MedNet. I was part of the team that did conflict mapping in the featured case.

In the earlier discussions, I understand that there was an impression of an interfaith competition in the conflict. Let me share additional information and learning insights on the case.

As you have already explained, the Catholic Church, through the Bishop, requested MedNet to do a conflict map of the case. The Bishop wanted the Church to understand the issue fully before making a decision on the role they would like to play and the conflict map results will serve as their guide.

The conflict mapping process tried its best to be participative and inclusive by reaching out to the remotest villages that will be greatly impacted by the project. In all the interviews and consultations that were undertaken, there were participants from various faiths but they were there representing their interest on the issue. Faith was not a source of competition but rather a source of cooperation for them. All of them believed in a higher being called in different names - God for the Christians and Magbabaya for the Indigenous peoples and this belief was expressed in every meeting. We always started the meeting with prayers. Usually, the representative from the indigenous group (IP) will start a prayer in their own language and followed by a representative from non- IP stakeholders who were mostly Catholics.

The real competition present in that conflict was on the use of precious resources - land and water from the Pulangi river. For the indigenous Manobo, the river is not just a source of water for their farms and household, it is also part of their identity. A sub-tribe of Manobos who live by the Pulangi river call themselves Manobo-Pulangihon. The river is part of their identity and culture as a people.

For us who did the conflict mapping, it was important to understand a bit of the history of the Manobo in relation to development projects that encroach on their lands. A significant percentage of their population were displaced by an earlier hydropower project constructed during the Martial Law period in the nearby town. Many of them have become wage earners and the leaders that we talked to told us that their lives have become more miserable after their displacement. At that time, there was no consultation process and much more a relocation site because the country was under a dictatorship. We also learned that the Catholic Church supported them in their fight against that dam project.

The conflict mapping process helped us to understand the deeper meanings of the proposed hydropower project to them in terms of their livelihood, their cultural identity as a people and their view on development. Proponents of the project have also a different meaning of development and projection of the kind of life that the people will experience if the dam is constructed.

These essential questions - the use of common resources such as land and water and its impacts to the people, their culture and identity were the substantial content of the conflict faced by the stakeholders.

As to the learning component - I felt that the consultations that were undertaken allowed all parties to talk and listen to each other. The multi-stakeholders meeting in fact was the first time for them to face each other and exchange their thoughts and feelings. It facilitated understanding and encouraged them to continue with the dialogue. Hence, they decided to form a joint fact-finding body facilitated by MedNet to clarify basic data conflicts about the project and its impact to them. This decision resulted to a census that provided them the necessary data that they needed. Local government units and village people were enlightened on the results of the study and they were able to propose recommendations to concerned agencies.

For me a conflict mapping tool is important because this will tell us which intervention is appropriate. It is a learning process not only for the conflict assessors but also the stakeholders.

Thank you and warm regards, Caroliza Tulod-Peteros

Member, MeNet

Nicole Afable, Nov 3 2013, Summary of Week 2

Summary of Week 2

Dear KM4Dev Community,

Let me share the summary of the second week’s discussion on “Transboundary learning and innovation for development.”

The topic of the week was “Learning through Conflict Mapping.” Benedict, the resource person for the week, shared different ways by which people can learn from one another in a situation of conflict. He shared the tools and methods that three organizations utilize to address the different conflicts that they are focused on:

  • The Mapping tool for Multi-stakeholder conflicts is the method that the Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace or MedNet has been applying to analyzing various community conflicts in the Philippines. Benedict highlighted MedNet’s experience of applying conflict mapping on the case of the community conflict concerning the proposed 300-Megawatt Pulangi hydroelectric power project in the Bukidnon and Cotabato provinces in southern Philippines. More details on the case can be found at:
  • The LRA crisis tracker of Invisible Children + Resolve is a visual crisis tracker that collects and plots information on the attacks, kidnappings and other untoward incidences connected to the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that has committed human rights violations and atrocious acts in Uganda and the surrounding areas of South Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic. Benedict, together with the developer of the tracker, John Beaton, explored how using a visual crisis tracker that assesses the crisis beyond national borders can contribute to a wider understanding of the crisis and can promote learning. The interview is available at:
  • The Making Sense of Turbulent Contexts (MSTC) analysis, used by World Vision International and its partners, assesses a regional or a national conflict by bringing together participants that represent various ethnic or cultural groups, political persuasions or faith affiliations. Learn more about this method here.

The community discussion revolved around these tools and the key questions that the resource person raised, plus a lot more. Here are some of the key points that were discussed: Conflict arises from tensions between human-constructed boundaries that are at odds with one another. As Serafin explained during the launch of focused conversation, “Enculturated mental fences that people construct among themselves by which they separate themselves from ‘others’ give rise to problems and conflicts.” The reverse also holds true as shared similarities between the other can be a unifying factor. As Caroliza explained, in the consultations with participants from various faiths, shared monotheistic beliefs was a source of cooperation for them. Divisive boundaries include national, ethnic and ideological divisions, as illustrated in the cases Benedict shared, but also refer to divisions and sub-levels within organizations and agencies. With this in mind, lessons learned and the tools and methods used to obtain it can also be applied to conflicts on a smaller scale because essentially these tools and methods helps individuals see beyond their own boundaries.

Assessing and mapping out the details and nuances of issues and conflicts can allow for a wider understanding of the complexity issue that can contribute to more appropriate and effective responses to the issue.

  • The tools that Benedict shared can aid interested parties assess and map out fine details that include all perspectives, angles and connections involved in a complicated issue. The LRA crisis tracker presents the information collected from different individuals and organizations on the field in a manner that can emphasize the regional and widespread nature of each incidence of violence. Conflict mapping assesses the motivations, positions and underlying interests and needs of persons or groups. In addition to information on actor-groups and symptoms of the conflict, the MSTC analysis looks at the historical factors that have contributed to the crises.
  • The conflict in Sarawak that Julian shared illustrates how complicated a conflict is. Similar to the MedNet case, tension arose from the opposition of the indigenous people against the building of a dam. He explained that the conflict is further complicated by the power relations and interests of the other players, the government and multinational organizations. Aside from this, the reporting on the issue by the media adds another layer of complication.
  • Benedict and Caroliza expounded on the intricacies that the conflict mapping reveals. After indepth meetings and consultations, MedNet found that the conflict surrounding the building of the hydroelectric dam was exacerbated by the competition for the use of land and water from the Pulangi river, which would have been blocked off by the dam as Caroliza explained. Not only are these natural resources necessary for their subsistence but the river is valued as part of the identity and culture of a surrounding indigenous group.

Bringing together various interest groups can facilitate understanding and learning in the midst of conflict.

  • As highlighted by the cases Benedict shared, different stakeholders have to be brought together in order to assess and map out their positions, interests and motivations. As Caroliza explained, the conflict mapping process conducted by MedNet tried its best to be participative and inclusive as possible as consultations that were undertaken allowed all parties to talk and listen to each other. She recounted that the multi-stakeholders meeting gave all parties the opportunity to face each other and exchange their thoughts and feelings for the first time. Being able to understand and learn from the perspective of the ‘other’ can help decrease tensions among different stakeholders in a conflict and even facilitate reaching a compromise.
  • Social Network Analysis is another tool that can also be used to plot power relationships and potential conflicting interests among players.
  • In response to interesting discussion on Social Network Analysis (SNA) that was also active during this week, Jasmin wondered if SNA is a tool that can plot power relationships and potential interests among players. Andrea explained that SNA may not be the best tool to map out power dynamics and suggested alternative methods in policy networks literature. Eva added that if it is when used in a participatory and engagement-oriented way, SNA can be used to map out conflicts and work on them. Jaaps gave more steps and illustrations on conducting SNAs.

Thank you to all the contributors for taking the time to participate in our insightful discussions. You can still post any last messages related to this thread, but the focus of the conversation for this week now shifts to, "Transboundary Innovation" which will be launched by Serafin soon after this email.

Meanwhile, you can visit the discussion page on the KM4Dev Wiki at: The toolkit for Peer Learning is available at:

The toolkit for Conflict Mapping Tool for Multi-stakeholder Conflicts is available at:

Best regards,

Nicole Afable

Jasmin Suministrado

Benedict Rimando

Serafin Talisayon

Julian Goh, Nov 4 2013, Comment on Summary of Week 2

Dear Sir,

This initiative needs a lot of efforts come from you to monitor, synthesize, and summarize skills. Very impress to read this report. It is a new learning experience to me as a whole in the past two weeks also.

Would be happy to see how this report to be classified, indexed, and for any future use, as reference for other in similar discussion later.

Serafin Talisayon, Nov 4 2013, Transboundary Innovation

Dear colleagues in the KM4Dev community,

Our topic for this third week of Focused Conversation is Transboundary Innovation.

Transboundary innovation is innovation that modifies, redefines or transcends boundaries and affiliations, whether political, cultural, corporate, sector, thematic, etc. The purpose of transboundary innovation is to solve social and planetary problems towards more sustainable peace and development.

There have been many transboundary innovations introduced in the past decades to address global issues and problems that cut across national, sector, corporate and other boundaries, although these were not recognized as such. Our purpose in introducing the terms "transboundary learning" and "transboundary innovation" in these Conversations is to facilitate understanding and discourse on these important processes for reducing or preventing so much conflicts going on the in the world today.

A video of the PowerPoint introduction to this topic is available at A script of the video together with images of each slide is available at the CCLFI website:

Last week Benedict, Julian and Caroliza mentioned examples of how big hydropower projects created social conflicts. To introduce the topic, we will start with another big hydropower project, the Chico River Dam hydroelectric power project which became a "development disaster" in the 1970s-1980s. We will see how similar development problems can lead to transboundary innovations.

Do you have similar experiences or related studies on transboundary innovation? Please tell us about it.

What were the lessons learned? What worked or what did not work?

Looking forward to a productive conversation among us,

Nicole Afable, Nov 5 2011, Map of Dirty Energy Money

Hi Eva and all,

I love the map of Dirty Energy Money that you shared! Without considering the resource needed, I think having a visual tool this dynamic would be great.

I can't help but related what you shared to the focused conversation that has been occurring in the past weeks. The Dirty Energy Money map is able to explain the intricacies and connections of the complicated issue of fossil fuel lobbying. The issue of air pollution is certainly transboundary, not just because of the shared atmosphere but also because of different sectors of society, industries and fields of practice involved, and the innovative solutions to address it have be transboundary as well.

Enabling interaction between CoPs of different sectors is a significant way to facilitate transboundary innovation.

Are there any other methods and tools that can relate different CoPs to one another? I'd love to hear your experiences and suggestions.

Good wishes, Nicole

Serafin Talisayon, Nov 6 2013, SBCA diagram

Dear colleagues in the KM4Dev community,

May I continue further on the Week 3 topic.

The SBCA diagram is a simple tool that enables us to see the cause of social conflicts in "development disasters" such as those arising from big hydropower projects. It also allows us to see how transboundary innovation can reduce or avert such social conflicts.

A follow-through video on the SBCA diagram can be seen at: and its script is also available at the CCLFI website: (check the bottom part of the page).

Is the SBCA framework appropriate or useful for understanding transboundary innovation? Or is the Venn diagram better?

Were the concepts of P (scope of POWER and influence) and I (scope of INTEREST, responsibility and beneficiary group) useful?

I will appreciate hearing from you.

Nicole Afable, Nov 6 2011, Sharing on SBCA diagram

Hello everyone,

The SBCA diagram seems like a good tool that can show in simple terms how thinking beyond boundaries can benefit not only a larger scope of individuals but can benefit the acting individual, enterprise or organizations as well.

A tool like this would have been great in a meeting of local government officials that I assisted in.

Similar to the previous discussion Yennenga started about how empowering people can decrease a person's competitive advantage, the participants were resistant and antagonistic of even thinking of the idea of starting a joint conservation across adjacent municipal waters. They cited different reasons that ranged from competing political parties, threatened livelihood of the constituents will result in a decrease of future votes and public funds are already allotted in other matters.

Of course politics is another complicated issue in and of itself, but a tool like this could have made them more amenable to going beyond their jurisdictions or "boundaries".

Has anyone dealt with similar situations of uncooperative and even hostile participants? What did you do to diffuse the tension?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Benedict Rimando, Nov 6 2013, Sharing on SBCA diagram

Hello Dr. Apin,

Thanks a lot for the interesting diagram. I think that it could be an interesting tool to be used by facilitators, mediators, Government officials, NGO advocates of community rights and even managers of big companies. Yesterday, I attended a forum at the Graduate Institute of Geneva where a book entitled, ‘Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders’ was presented to the public. One of the issues tackled was precisely how big companies can both be a negative factor for conflict and also a catalyst for economic development and sustainable progress. I think that managers can benefit from a tool such as the SBCA. Another issue that came up yesterday was the training that managers get where they are not prepared for complex or much less, conflictual environments. So another idea was to include subjects in business schools that would help them get some preparation to deal eventually with issues that would include the environment, community conflict and sustainable progress. My question would be - how can this tool be packaged and made available for managers, and even perhaps for business school students.

Serafin Talisayon, Nov 6 2013, Reply to Nicole and Benedict

Dear Benedict and Nicole,

Development management under conditions of overt or potential conflicts is a rather common situation in some developing countries like the Philippines. With this in mind, the Asian Institute of Management had established a Center for Bridging Leadership ( The Center uses knowledge management tools such as sociogram (similar to SNA) to plot social groups or factions, their interests and power -- similar to the tools that Benedict and I presented in this Focused Conversation. Because knowledge of what works in different social conflict situations/contexts vary, another KM tool the Center uses is post-project knowledge capture, to document and transfer learning across their projects.

Center faculty and staff are my friends and I have interacted and learned much from them. The way I understood the term, a "bridging leader" (who can be the mayor of a local government unit, or a general in the local police force) is a leader who can help people recognize and bridge across three divides (or boundaries): social divides (between conflicted social groups), generative divide (between the problematic present and a collective vision for all groups), and dynamic divide (between causes and effects that are far removed from each other). Adam Kahane and Peter Senge (the acknowledged guru of Learning Organization) wrote about these three types of complexity in their 2007 book "Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities." Tney were no talking about any academic theory; they were talking about how they applied these principles in bringing together leaders of warring political groups in apartheid South Africa -- to examine choices they face collectively on the long-term future of South Africa, which contributed significantly to the historic paradigm shift that eventually brought Mandela into power.

In summary, I think graphical-visual tools or rich images that help people be more aware of and then think beyond boundaries (instead of being unconscously caught up within them) can be powerful KM tools for political and other leaders in effectively managing the nexus of peace and development.

I am very much interested to learn from the experiences of our colleagues in the KM4Dev community that are related to the above issues. Please share your experiences with us.

Daan Boom, Nov 7 2013, Transbounday knowledge exchange

Dear Apin, Jasmin, Benedict, Nicole,

For over a few weeks I promised myself to respond and add knowledge to the interesting discussion you initiated on the various aspects of knowledge transfer, a subject close to my heart, triggered by a paper I read during my years in college by Paul Romer, the Nobel laureate on economics. Romer paper build a new model of economic growth based upon the growth and use of knowledge (and not capital), long before the OECD and World Bank highlighted the importance of knowledge for economic growth. For the complexities surrounding knowledge transfer I can refer to the excellent publication of David Warsh about knowledge and the wealth of nations (2006), and Joel Mokyr the Gifts of Athena. You can do a web search to find the gists of the publications to understand the context why transfer of knowledge and technology is complex.

The context of knowledge exchange, be it south-south or north-south, on science, technology, innovations is changing rapidly. We recognise the connections of the global economy through value chains, international research networks, increasing mobility and circulation of people and knowledge. At the same time we see a rapid change of new forms of collaboration and knowledge exchange facilities including a shift from donors funding to support knowledge exchange e.g. World Bank South-South Exchange Program, Islamic Development Bank’s Reverse Linkage Program, Asian Development Bank, FAO, GIZ, DFID alike. Hence, there is even a World Bank supported open Community of Practice on knowledge exchange addressing the various cultural or organisational issues related to transboundary, inter-regional and global transfer of knowledge, including assessment tools, capacity building efforts to make sure that knowledge can stick, and be applied in a sustainable manner. In the globalised economy most production processes requires a high level of knowledge that raises a number of issues related to the transfer of knowledge. This is also not only applicable for the developing countries abut also for the developed countries and you can see in the newspapers the creation of so-called centers of excellence on a specific subject or twinning centre concept.

The transfer of knowledge is a tedious process hat requires a good analysis, instruments, understanding of the local situation, religion, and willingness of clients and stakeholders to endorse or embrace a process of knowledge transfer. The mapping exercise on the Hydropower project can be seen as an example how much effort is needed to plan and execute the process.

For the transfer of research and innovations we still face numerous issues especially how to engage strong research networks such as Universities, in the transfer and application of knowledge, that is pro-poor relevant. Often I have witnessed in Africa and Asia student and professors from Universities doing field research but seldom report back to communities the lessons learned. Findings and innovations from Universities that are pro-poor relevant remain often shelved. Sometimes for a good reason. Fortunately the barriers regarding the exchange and application of knowledge for development is picked up. Many instruments and methodologies have become available that facilitates the process of knowledge transfer. In the curriculum of some Chinese and Indian agricultural Universities students can take entrepreneurial and knowledge sharing methodologies summer courses that trains them to be more effective in the transfer and application of knowledge. It provides them the skills and understanding how research findings innovations can be localised and applied including the provision of follow-up services. It increases their capacities to act as extension agents and we witnessed remarkable positive effects in replication and upscaling of local technologies (Bangladesh off-grid renewable energy).

Its good to know that the students are not only trained to make their analyses practical and relevant for communities but are also taught to tap on the global pool of knowledge to address local problems and thus also facilitate transboundary knowledge transfer.

For further information view the manual the Art of Knowledge Exchange (World Bank Institute website). Asian Development Bank Case Study on South-South Cooperation. The manual and process of the Reverse linkage program of the Islamic Development Bank is still in production but I’m happy to respond to queries you may have. For the wiki I will produce a one -pager though and share soon.

Jasmin Suministrado, Nov 7 2013, Relationships of private and public sector in innovative projects

Hello everyone,

Reading this thread on transboundary innovation makes me think about relationships of private and public sector in innovative projects such as in my field of microinsurance. Specifically, I have in mind the example of the government of India who is now widely promoting universal health coverage among its low-income population. What they did was partner with private insurance companies who carry the risk and who helped introduce an innovation in the health insurance system. The innovation is the use of a smart card (with biometrics) that also serves as an ID card for low income beneficiaries who normally don't have any form of identification. With the card, the low income population can seek health care simply by presenting their card to government hospitals and private empanelled hospitals.

The boundaries here are organizational interests and frameworks. And in this case, the success factor of the innovation is the willingness of both private and public sectors to work together, and the realization that doing so will provide both of them with greater benefits, ie, private companies can reach more clients while the government can achieve its public policy objective of better health care for its citizens. So instead of competing, they work together. Another factor, and a big one, is having a champion in the government. Without this person, the project would not have been a success.

This model is now being studied by other countries in the region, such as Bangladesh. Let's see what happens.

Nicole Afable, Nov 7 2013, Reply to Daan

Hi Daan,

Thank you for sharing the larger context of knowledge transfer and exchange!

It's encouraging to know that a significant number of development organizations are acknowledging the importance of this tedious yet innovative process as evidence by their support of collaboration and knowledge exchange facilities.

Despite the issues, I wonder if these knowledge exchange activities successfully achieve their objectives and result in changes and improvements?

I would love to hear more experiences and examples from anyone in the community.

Nicole Afable, Nov 7 2013, Reply to Jasmin

Hi Jasmin,

The example you shared about how the Indian government is partnering with private insurance companies to increase universal health coverage is a great example of how transboundary (the boundaries of organizational interests and frameworks, as you mentioned) collaboration can result in innovative solutions for development.

The success factors of the case are very insightful. It really stresses that all involved parties must be willing to do their part, most likely because they see what they can benefit from it.

I know that all cases are different, depending on the culture, power structures and dynamics and context, but could eager and active collaborators be a critical success factor in many, if not all, cases of collaboration and exchange?

I'm keen to hear about other success factors members in the community have observed in their different experiences!

Martina Hetzel, Nov 7 2013, Context of uncooperative participants

Hello Nicole, I was thinking about your question:

"Has anyone dealt with similar situations of uncooperative and even hostile participants? What did you do to diffuse the tension?"

The very important topic Yennenga arised (why people may be dont want to exchange?) for me is much more than a topic on individual level. Its about the systems in which people are working in, the environment which shapes their mind, their feeling, their behaviour.

Look: when external people are entering into a process/project, e.g. foreign especialists with so called KM methods. Look at their environment: they earn alot, they have access to all kind of benefits, they had many years of education, they have a good job, they stay in good hotels, having great food, best service, a good health insurance ... So they go to their workshop and tell the people, "hey! lets exchange, this is great"

Look at the other side. I invent an example: Paula comes to the workshop. She has 3 kids at home, divorced, living with her parents and grandmother in a very small apartment, nobody has a regular job and income, often they dont know how to pay the basic things, like food and rent, health insurance is a luxury, the state health service doesnt work, one of her kid is ill and needs help. Paula got a job at a state department because her oncle has a good position their. Actually she doesnt know much about the topic of this job. She only knows that she needs the money for her family. In her job she is forced to pay to the government party. Her job has to do with natural ressources. She knows that there is a lot corruption in her department, chiefs are recieving money from the powerful companies. She even heard that there died people trying to change rules.

So, back to the workshop. The faclitator wants to talk about lessons learnt in the last project. Paula knows alot but doesnt participate.

Hm. Uncooperative participant?

What to do? I think one very good method for people engaged/planning development projects is to live reality next to people with whom they want to work. Just to feel and see how things are and try to understand the running system. Trying to understand their participantes in this system and their particular lifes.

And people who work in the development system far away from the level in contact with these people: it would be important to guarantee mechanisms of KM4Dev which "forces" people on ground level to build their KM4Dev process as part of the programme/project.

Serafin Talisayon, Nov 8 2013, Reply to Daan and Martina

Hi Tina and Daan,

Tina, what you are saying is so true. Indeed, there is a divide between development workers (who come from abroad or from national capitals like Manila) and rural and often poor communities. In the Philippines, people from the rural areas tend to view people from Manila as arrogant and "know it all."

We have touched on this divide or boundary a few times in KM4Dev during the past few years.

Development workers often visit rural communities only to study or get data from rural communities. Daan mentioned that "Often I have witnessed in Africa and Asia student and professors from Universities doing field research but seldom report back to communities the lessons learned. Findings and innovations from Universities that are pro-poor relevant remain often shelved."

At the University of the Philippines, we convened a conference on Innovative Development Processes where the speakers are leaders from rural communities and the audience are the academic people. To remind the university professors (like me) to be more humble or less "know it all" we called the conference "The Doers Talk, and the Talkers Listen." Ha ha!

Listening can lead to radical unlearning.

The label "poor" applied to rural communities came from development workers (=us). Our research had shown that the best practices or the most successful among over 900+ anti-poverty projects in the Philippines were less due to development interventions (including knowledge transfer) from outside, and more due to leveraging on pre-existing intangible assets of local communties. These successful communities were in reality rich in intangible assets (human capital, relationship capital, social and cultural capital, access rights to ecological capital, stakeholder capital, etc.). This is the basic reason behind the success of the Grameen model, for example. But because development workers (=we) have an economic mindset and look only at tangible assets, we label them "poor." The tragedy is, the rural communities soon adopt the development workers' economic mindset and start to believe that they are "poor"!

We documented our radical unlearning (click "Knowledge for Poverty Alleviation" at I must state here that Jasmin led this effort ably, to give credit to whom credit is due.


Serafin Talisayon, Nov 8 2013, Case of the Olecram Mining Company

Dear colleagues,

One of the innovative development processes reported in the conference I mentioned earlier (see below) is an interesting form of enterprise where the boundary between the corporation and the local community completely disappears. This is the case of the Olecram Mining Company, a small-scale gold mining corporation in Jose Panganiban municipality in Camarines Norte Province in the Philippines. Here are its unique features:

1> Small-scale gold panners in an upland village were organized by its local political leader (called "barangay captain", an elected position) into a corporation;

2> Capital and more efficient technology are provided by an investor from Manila, Mr. Marcelo (the name of the corporation is his name spelled backwards);

3> The local political leader assumed an executive position in the corporation, and erstwhile gold panners become employees of the corporation;

4> Gold output is shared according to the ratio 45:45:10 for the employees, investor and local political leader, respectively; checkers are employed in behalf of the employees and of the investor ("checkers" are inspectors who ensure that there is no pilferage of gold);

5> Management decisions are shared with all the employees; Mr. Marcelo lives in Manila and makes minimal operational management decisions;

6> CONSEQUENCES: Because all employees are also community members, corporate financial resources are also used for community development: local projects, festive events, transportation, infrastructures, etc. -- the usual divide between corporation and community does not exist; some employees are also farmers, and mining areas and farming areas co-exist. Small-scale miners stay in the corporation because their income is higher compared to being individual gold panners (due to more efficient mining technology). There is no labor-management conflict because employees participate in corporate decision-making, and the Manila-based investor adopted a "hands off" style as long as he gets his 45% share of gold output. Localized externalities are internalized within the corporate-community accounting system, except those from environmental impacts affecting other communities farther downstream.

Sources: Talisayon et al. (editors). "The Doers Talk and the Talkers Listen." Quezon City, Philippines: Asian Center, University of the Philippines, 1990; Talisayon et al. (editors). "Innovative Develoment Processes in the Philippines: Case Studies." Quezon City, Philippines: Asian Center, University of the Philippines, 1990.

Nicole Afable, Nov 8 2013, Reply to Serafin

Hello everybody,

Apin, thank you for sharing that wonderful example of an transboundary (business boundaries) collaboration that resulted in an innovative development process.

The cooperation and accord among the local community, government leaders and investor in the case of the Olecram Mining Company sharply contrasts with the armed struggle that erupted because of the Chico River Dam, the first example you shared earlier this week.

This stark difference really shows the potential impact and benefit of learning and innovation across different sectors and stakeholders.

We would love to hear of other innovative development processes from the community.


Martina Hetzel, Nov 8 2013, Reply to Serafin

Thanks Apin. Very true, very interesting. I love the name: "The Doers Talk, and the Talkers Listen." I will integrate your ideas in my next work. But first I will resend your mail to people I know doing investigation in communities... Anexed I send a model from a bolivian university. They talk alot about "descolonizacion" of the minds as important first step. Tina

Nicole Afable, Nov 11 2013, Summary of Week 3

Dear KM4Dev Community,

Let me share the summary of the third week’s discussion on “Transboundary learning and innovation for development.” The topic of the week was “Transboundary Innovation.” Apin (Serafin Talisayon), the resource person for the week, gave an explanation as well as various examples of transboundary innovation

  • Transboundary innovation is innovation that modifies, redefines or transcends boundaries and affiliations, whether political, cultural, corporate, sector, thematic, etc. The purpose of transboundary innovation is to solve social and planetary problems towards more sustainable peace and development. Access the script of the video presentation here (
  • In the Philippines in the 1970s to 1980s, massive local and international opposition was generated because the Chico River Dam project, a big hydroelectric dam project, would submerge large areas of ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. It had gotten to the point of armed resistance by the local people and use of military force by the Philippine Government. Learning from similar situations, international organizations and national governments enacted protective policies and regulations.
  • Tools like the SBCA diagram can disaggregate the potential social benefits and costs of a project. SBCA stands for social benefit-cost analysis. This diagram disaggregates the impacts of a project into four types: benefits and costs to the project owner, and benefits and costs to the rest of society. Learn more about the tool at: The script of the video presentation is at the latter part of
  • The case of the Olecram Mining Company is an excellent example of transboundary innovation. This small-scale gold mining corporation is an interesting form of enterprise where the boundary between the corporation and the local community completely disappears. Because the employees of the corporation who are all community members participate in management, localized externalities are internalized within the corporate-community accounting system.

The community discussion revolved around the following key points:

  • Many development issues are transboundary in nature. Aside from the Chico River Dam project and the numerous examples Apin shared in his presentation, other transboundary developmental issues were shared. Nicole Afable shared that establishing marine protected areas is not solely environmental in nature but also needs to take the political and economic dimensions as well. Benedict Rimando explained that large enterprises can be a factor in development and conflict due to their large size and considering the possible impact of their activities on the communities around as well as to other stakeholders. Julian Goh mentioned the Baram hydroelectric power project in Sarawak as an example. Another example of enterprises contributing to development is the case of Indian insurance companies, through a partnership with the Indian government, increasing access to basic health care to the country’s low income population, as Jasmin Suministrado shared.
  • The importance of addressing these impacts and issues with transboundary solutions and innovations is increasingly acknowledged. As Benedict shared, business leaders acknowledge that they are operating in complex environments wherein business activities may have longstanding impacts to society. In order to address the lack of training and skills that current managers need to face this complex environment, business schools could offer subjects that will prepare future managers to address transboundary issues that include the environment, community conflict and sustainable development. Serafin shared that something similar is being offered by Asian Institute of Management, an executive and business education institute in the Philippines, that has a leadership center that uses KM tools to make sense of these complex environments. Aside from the business world, donor and development agencies also value the importance of knowledge exchange and transfer to facilitate transboundary learning as they provide more support and funding for such initiatives and activities, as Daan Boom shared.
  • Frameworks and tools are useful for understanding transboundary innovations. Nicole and Benedict agreed that the SBCA diagram is an interesting diagram that can be appreciated by nearly everyone for explaining complex transboundary impacts in simple terms. Like the SBCA diagram, other graphical-visual tools or rich images that help people be more aware of and then think beyond boundaries can be powerful KM tools, as Serafin explained. Another example of this is the Dirty Energy Money map that Eva shared in another conversation thread. This dynamic visual tool attempts to map the complex intricacies and connection of fossil fuel lobbying in the US political system in a graphical and easier to comprehend manner.
  • Members of the community have observed various issues and success factors for transboundary innovation. Facilitating transboundary innovation is not an easy process. Some of the issues observed include lacking pro-poor engagement of strong research networks such as universities, as Daan explained, and constricting structures outside the control of community participants and facilitators that limit opportunities for transboundary innovation, as Martina Hertzel shared. Martina and Apin underlined the knowledge boundary between urban-based development workers with their development paradigms that look more at tangible assets and formal/written systems versus rural communities at look more at intangible assets and informal/oral traditions, and the “knowledge colonization” of the latter by the former. Despite the fact that these initiatives require significant effort, the results are well worth it. As Daan, Serafin and Jasmin shared, the success factors for transboundary innovation include utilizing appropriate instruments that allow for good analysis, understanding of the local context, willingness of all parties involved as they recognize what they can benefit from it and a champion or “bridging leader” who can aid in recognizing and bridging across divides or boundaries.

Thank you to all the contributors for taking the time to participate in our insightful discussions. You can still post any replies relating to any of the topics covered in the last three weeks but our focused conversation on “Transboundary learning and innovation for development” has come to an end. We will soon share the synthesis of the valuable discussions and contributions that were generated in the focused conversation.

Meanwhile, you can visit the discussion page on the KM4Dev Wiki here[3]

The toolkit for SBCA Diagram with Stakeholder Analysis is available at:

Best regards,

Nicole Afable

Jasmin Suministrado

Benedict Rimando

Serafin Talisayon