Jumping into cold water

As I mentionned before, I’m in Addis Ababa now, to use Net-Map with my colleagues here to get a better understanding of innovation systems in the agricultural sector. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea about the poultry sector in Ethiopia.

To structure and fine-tune our research approach, we drew our first Net-Map about it together as a research team this morning. Then, after lunch, we drew a second one with our first interview partner, a local researcher and expert in the poultry sector.

While I am still far from being a poultry expert by this evening, one amazing thing occured to me when thinking about this day: With the step-by-step approach of Net-Map you can be new in a governance field and still interview an expert without making a fool out of yourself. The visualization guides you, quasi automatically, to asking the crucial questions, because you can see where there are gaps in the network or which constellations don’t seem to add up. Because you give a lot of the process over to the interview partner (“Who do you think is influencing this field?” “How are they linked” etc.) they can provide your with information that you wouldn’t have thought to ask for.

While today was an interesting day for me as a researcher, it was even more interesting in terms of thinking about implementation. If a donor or NGO came new to this field, just as I did this morning and wanted to improve the situation, they could do the same thing and after a few interviews, within a few days after jumping into this cold water they could feel as confident as the proverbial fish.

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