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Network meetings 2012 – the members’ impressions one year later

July 31, 2013 | bit-wartung | SDC Experiences, SDC Networks |

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This blog entry looks back to the face-to-face meetings held in 2012.
14 members of 5 SDC networks remember them one year later as inspiring moments for networking and new thinking. Concrete action steps resulted from these gatherings.


By Elvira, Enkhie, Graciela, Heinz, Joel, My Lan, Olivier, Petro, Reto, Robert, Samuel, Sohel, Tahsinah, Therese, compiled by Nadia

In 2012 several of the SDC networks convened a network face-to-face (f2f) meeting. How do the members remember these meetings one year later? We invited 14 members of the networks Migration (blog), Agriculture and Food Security, Gender, Financial Management and Systems, and Health – all working in Swiss Cooperation Offices (SCO) – to share their view.

In short, the f2f meetings made them think afresh. They connected to colleagues doing similar jobs elsewhere. They felt inspired and motivated. The updates from the Head Office, new insights and deepened understanding on issues at stake helped them to fulfill their tasks and to initiate new actions.

Network meetings are the opportunity for knitting social ties. New relationships are established. Old ones renewed and strengthened.

In our function (as financial experts) we usually are alone in a SCO, unlike some of the operational colleagues, and to exchange experience with like-minded is very beneficial. – Heinz

Getting to know colleagues, and establishing relationships with colleagues working on similar development challenges as I do provides future references/ contacts for support outside face-to-face. – Joel

 My motivation to participate: Exchange with others, learning from each other, networking, having the opportunity to meet other colleagues holding the same position in another SCO. – Therese

Face-to-face meetings are an opportunity to watch beyond the office walls, the own island and the institutional boundaries. The change of perspective and the listening to the colleagues’ challenging situations and way of dealing with certain problems stimulate own thinking and solution finding.

F2F meetings can help to extend our toolbox and get different views on our questions. In other words, it helps me to change the perspective and find out how colleagues deal with similar questions. – Reto

 It allows me to step back from operational issues of my program and compare our interventions with other contexts. Informal exchanges with colleagues from Head Office and other Cooperation Offices and with external experts are very informative and motivating. – Olivier

For me is the best, when countries with similar context and problems share their experiences through exchange visits. – Elvira 

Being in conversation with peers and external partners, accessing and reflecting new information, the generation of new ideas, the mirroring with other realities all this leads to deepened understanding.

The F2F meeting in Bangladesh was for me the first opportunity to understand migration issues beyond the classical framework we use to look in. It allowed me to match between the migration questions and its cultural, economic, social and political (Policy of government) aspects. – Robert

 I’d like to learn from others on how they deal with a number of issues in AFS in general and last year, the results based reporting was also an interesting subject. – My Lan

 F2F is a very important tool for networking. As compared to people living in mainland, being a Cuban and living in an island makes me need perhaps more exchange, more dialogue, more sharing with colleagues on aspects related to strategies, purposes and factors that are necessary to be taken into account to attain gender equity. – Graciela

Next to social learning and networking the benefit is also motivational. The members left the meetings inspired and motivated with ideas for next steps.

To meet fellow counterparts working in different parts of the world is very inspirational and gives me a kind of back up and a breath of fresh air. Especially for people like me working in the field, a face to face meeting provides an opportunity to check up and validate whether my project is on the right track with tackling certain issues. – Enkhie

The last f2f I attended was organized here in Dhaka, so that was an additional motivation in the sense that we were able to practically show to Head Office & other SCO what we are doing & what is happening in the country. – Tahsinah 

Back home the network members organized briefings with partners and colleagues. They passed on documents and shared their insights. In order to integrate information, insights and ideas they took concrete action steps:

The main learning point for me was how different SCO were dealing with the instruments, especially in annual planning; results orientation etc. I have since been able to develop an annual plan using a results framework (2012) and shared with colleagues in other domains. – Samuel

I was making a presentation on ‘how to write a good gender case study’ to the members of SDC Bangladesh Partners Gender Platform. (…) I also used it to develop further knowledge and skills on gender of my colleagues and gender focal points of SDC supported projects and partners. – Sohel

 We have been able to integrate these aspects into our ongoing Labour Migration Policy Project (‘’Promoting Decent Work through Improved Migration Policy and its Application in Bangladesh’’) which is being implemented by ILO. – Tahsinah

Health becomes a transversal topic for all SDC supported projects in the country. We try to link it to organic nutrition, energy efficiency in hospitals, clean H2O in villages, apples instead of chocolate. – Petro

For the SCO team Petro proposed: The “SCO healthy workplace recommendations” encouraging the staff “the life we preach”.

At the face to face meeting, I got an exposure to quite many interesting perspectives of land governance, and later through the contacts I established at the meeting, I was able to access and contact several experts to get in depth knowledge about specific issues Mongolia is facing – how to regulate open access rangelands and emerging conflicts between traditional land user-herders and mining industry. – Enkhie

How have you experienced f2f-meetings you attended? What was your biggest learning?

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Comments to“Network meetings 2012 – the members’ impressions one year later”


  1. Thank you for this evaluation report! I have used it in my recent blog:
    http://dubbedperceptions.com/2013/08/12/reporting-through-new-media/

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  2. Dear Hynek, thanks. Yes indeed as you write yourself, f2f meetings are about “facts, concepts, findings”, and also about “energy, inspiration and motivation the participants take back home to continue their work”. I talked to many network members over the last 1.5 years. When I ask them why they join and what the benefit is, there are almost always popping up three things: learn something new, connect with people/ get to know each other, and get inspiration/ beyond the box thinking.
    Best, Nadia

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  3. Riff Fullan says:

    Thanks for this compilation Nadia (and all who contributed)…this reminds me that in my experience (in the SDC context, but also elsewhere), the perceived value of both networks and of f2f meetings is consistently higher in the opinion of field-based staff versus head office-based staff. I think it would be very instructive to unpack this at some point, to explore the reason(s) for such differences, and to see if there are ways to improve perceptions on the one side, and overall benefits on both sides. Also, we would hopefully discover if it is just a matter of perception or are their in fact real differences in terms of learning, capacity development, etc.?

    Cheers, Riff

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  4. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Riff, many thanks for your thoughts. It’s an interesting observation you share. I think for the networks’ future it will be crucial to make the benefit of networked learning visible. These anecdotes give an impression. But we need more, and your are right we need both sides for this; the field offices and HQ. Best, Nadia

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