Discussion Report 18 Elsa Scholte - The KM4Dev Joint Trip Report

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Participants: Elsa S, Denise S, Karel N, Nadia vH.

About KM4Dev

  • Community of international development practitioners who are interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches. Their main discussion forum is the KM4Dev mailing list, where the sharing of ideas and experiences takes place. There is also a website/wiki at www.km4dev.org


  • June 18 - 21, 2008


  • Almada, outside Lisbon, Portugal (Pousada de Juventude (Youth Hostel) Quinta do Bucelinho - Pragal 2805-358)


  • 80 KM4Dev practitioners from around the world, many of them have just recently joined the network. There were both people from large NGOs and agencies, research organisations, as well as number of indepenent consultants. See full list at http://km4dev.org/wiki/images/9/9a/List_of_participants.pdf


  • The meeting consisted of day Zero, focused primarily on reviewing history and objectives on the network,familiarizing new members with km4Dev ideas and people and mapping our shared networks and communities. Two following days were dedicated to issues brought up during the open space sessions. The last half day on the 21st of June was used to wrap up KM4Dev 2008, and to hold a meeting of the KM4Dev Core Group, which consists of a group of 15-20 volunteers who contribute in various ways to the maintenance of the km4Dev community.

The agenda can be found at http://km4dev2008.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/program/ and the open space topics with notes are at http://km4dev.org/wiki/index.php/Open_Space_Discussion_Reports .

The meeting had an innovative format, in many respects: 1) The agenda was made of 6 rounds of open spaces. The first day, participants were invited to suggest topics for the open spaces. They were then responsible for hosting these open spaces and writing the report. Everyone could join those topics that were really of interest to them. This worked out really well, with more than 30 open space session held over the two days. It made the meeting completely relevant for me and I’m sure future workshops that I will be hosting can benefit from my experience with this format. 2)There was an effort to make this meeting as environmental friendly as possible. That means we are trying not to print out agendas (look on the walls), capture many of our learnings electronically through digital pictures and wiki pages, asking everyone to bring their own coffee cup from home to use over and over again, and sharing local transportation where we can. Participants were also encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways. 3)There were no key note speakers. In the network, each and everyone is considered to be an expert. Everyone has something to offer and everyone has something to take away from others.

Meeting objectives

  • To link together individual networks that participants are involved in, in working groups tackle shared challenges (such as building organizational memory, sharing and managing knowledge in multilingual networks, etc) and discuss future directions and development of the MK4dev network. Another objective was to strengthen the network through face-2-face meeting.

General meeting outcomes: What are the impacts, benefits, changes?

* Learned to use innovative ways to promote knowledge sharing and organize a workshop. Experiencing first hand the Open Space methodology demonstrated it can be applied to the organizations each of us come from and used in the work with partners.
  • Strengthened and extended connections with people that become references for technical and content questions. Group of people worked on solving technical problems of the community.
  • From the Open Space sessions [select the ones you participated at and take outcomes from each report in the wiki. i.e. Developed a tool for mapping networks]
  • There were sessions focusing on how to further include people from the ‘south’. In that framework it was discussed the relevance of expanding the southern members of the community and with that in mind was identified the venue for the future.


Benefits for organization and partners

  • The topics set and discussed in the open space really matter to the km4Dev community and the daily work of its members – KM practitioners
  • There is a strong need for collaboration to have impact in development
  • There is a need to prevent duplication of efforts; time and resources can be used
  • The annual gathering could be compared with crop circles created by the collective vibrating energy. The energy fields create innovation, stimulate ideas, and are starting points for organisational renewal.
  • The km4dev network allows being in touch with newest development, to be up to date, and top of the new development in the sector.
  • To join the community can be seen as an investment in research and organizational development. This investment goes back to partners

Personal benefits

  • The members feel energized
  • Are full of good and new ideas
  • Thanks to the face to face gathering we feel connected and part of a network we easily will make us from.

Personal objectives

Outcomes personal meetings

Opportunities for the organisation

Follow-up actions