With my colleagues Kerstin Tebbe and Bruno Laporte I just had an interesting design conversation for a session in which they want to help the members of a water basin commission better understand with whom they have knowledge exchange partnerships. We realized soon that this is not going to be a Net-Map session or a session of some squeezed out, shrunk down little cousin of Net-Map. So the proposed steps are the following:
- All 20 participants (individually) write the names of the commission’s most important and reliable knowledge partners on index cards (with thick marker and great handwriting). The cards are color-coded by categories, e.g. government on green cards, civil society on red.
- They put all cards on a large table and start looking for duplicates – if both of us wrote University of XYZ, we stack these cards to reduce the number of cards we are dealing with.
- Depending on the number of remaining cards (judgment call in the situation), they instruct the group to get up and take all cards (or only those of actors that have been mentioned at least twice), and walk to a large, sketched map on the floor of the 5 countries involved. They distribute the actor cards on the map, according to the country the actor is located in.
- As this very rough geographical actor map emerges, the participants consider a number of questions: Do we have stronger networks in some countries than others? Are some colors (i.e. actor categories) overrepresented on the map – or in some countries? Who is missing? What is the difference between the stack of cards I produced on my own and the map that emerged as we started putting it all together? How can we, as a group, access this whole richness, instead of just our own little corners?
This activity is located at the start of a longer engagement to improve the knowledge exchange and management of this organization, so they don’t have to answer all the questions in the world, the goal is rather to get the conversation started, to invite the complexity into the room without being overwhelmed.
I am curious to hear what you think about this? Would it work in your context? Can you think of something which would even sharpen or further enrich the activity? Have we overlooked a critical risk? And, don’t you love the artwork above, which Tara Donovan (picture credit) created out of thousands and thousands of index cards?
Filed under: exploring new ideas, facilitation, fine-tuning implementation, International development, Uncategorized Tagged: | Bruno Laporte, facilitation, Index Card Art, Kerstin Tebbe, Knowledge Management, knowledge networks, Tara Donovan, Water Governance, Water Management