Learning Elsewhere

Facebook as a learning tool?

October 16, 2013 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

Can Facebook and similar tools help communities to learn? “Yes!” say Christoph Pimmer and Urs Gröhbiel, two researchers who have investigated the use of mobile phones and social software by medical students, doctors and midwives in Nepal and South-Africa. They challenge coordinators and project leaders to consider the potential of social mobile media in their projects, for reporting, networking and knowledge-exchange.

By Urs Gröhbiel and Christoph Pimmer, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland

FHNW in discussion

Photo: Apprentice bricklayers with Chirsthoph Pimmer (middle) and Urs Gröhbiel (right) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe


Ideas for a more agile practice of learning lessons

October 02, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

The KM4dev discussion: Lessons Learned – The Loch Ness Monster of KM made us think about our own practice of drawing and using lessons learnt. Our conclusion: We need a more agile practice of drawing and using lessons learnt.

By Manuel Etter and Nadia von Holzen, SDC

Lessons Learnt


New guidebook for face-to-face meeting and workshop organizers – simple and powerful

August 21, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Are you soon organizing a face-to-face meeting or a workshop? Have a look at this rich Guidebook from the Rockefeller Foundation. The simple and powerful questions and how-to guides will inspire your preparation process. 


Leadership in networks matters – the example of the Knowledge Management Think Table

August 14, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Shared leadership is at the source of the drive and the dynamic of the Swiss Knowledge Management Think Table. At the last meeting at ILO in Geneva, the members experienced and reflected the meaning of shared leadership in a playful way. (more…)

Train your gut feeling through continuous learning!

March 06, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Complex situations resist our analytical capacities, they are unpredictable. In these situations, we cannot base our decisions on data. Hence, our decisions often based on intuition, gut feeling, and rules of thumb. Through continuous learning, we can train our intuition and become better equipped to manage our projects in complex environments. (more…)

What is learning?

February 20, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

By Nadia von Holzen, SDC

Learning has many facets, colours and forms. Tracey Martin wrote a poem on his very personal personal reflection on learning, what it means to him, how it happens and how incredible precious it is.


Why is „Manejo Integrado de Plagas” the number one download from SDC Websites

January 23, 2013 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, SDC Experiences

Rating: none

The importance of knowledge brokers for learning in SDC or why “Manejo Integrado de Plagas” (in engl. Integrated Pest Management) was the most downloaded document of SDC websites. (more…)

Disassembling Change: How to manage change processes?

November 07, 2012 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

For you as development professionals change is your daily basis. You aim for, provoke and witness change processes. You steer projects and manage programmes. You take care that you partner organisations are strengthened. You are part of changing teams. Have you ever thought about what change is for you? And what it needs to effectively support change? (more…)

NEWS & TRENDS October 2012

October 09, 2012 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none


The next week’s NeuroLeadership Summet in New-York. A brain friendly f2f meeting. (more…)

Swiss Development Research in transition

October 03, 2012 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Manuel FluryThe NCCR North-South will end mid 2013 and the first call of the new “R4D” fund is launched. There are lessons to be learnt from the NCCR in how best research, policy and practice can continuously and increasingly exchange and be effective. (more…)

Make your network mystically attractive like the Cube of Murten

September 26, 2012 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, SDC Experiences

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Ernst BolligerThe SDC’s Learning and Networking section could inspire itself from the monolith set in the lake of Murten during Expo’02. Ernst Bolliger from AGRIDEA extracts the symbolic weight of this landart installation and further reflects it on the values and work of networks. (more…)

The Wild Side of Networks – How Best to Organize the Networks’ Work?

July 17, 2012 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Nadia von HolzenWhat’s the true nature of networks? In this post Nadia von Holzen reflects on the characteristics of networks and how best sharing and learning in networks can be organized and supported. (more…)

E-collaboration at the FDFA

April 10, 2012 LND Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Andreas SchoeneAfter Riff Fullan’s comprehensive contribution on e-collaboration and on its prerequisites, in this blog post Andreas Schöne concentrates on more general terms of information management and on the e-collaboration infrastructure to be expected in the near future for FDFA employees and external partners. (more…)

The beauty of networks: smart, dynamic, innovative

March 20, 2012 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Nadia von Holzen

In her blog post Nadia von Holzen reflects on the nature of networks, on their constitution, texture and driving force. Networks shouldn’t be taken as rigid entities, they are driven by people and their engagement and are thus propelled by an inner dynamic. Networks grow, evolve and move and it is the network’s members who breathe life into this loose conglomerate transforming it into something similar to a living organism. Therefore networks are pivotal to a learning organization as they comprise essential qualities to manage, transform and generate knowledge. (more…)

Tomorrow’s Power of Knowledge

March 14, 2012 LND Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Manuel EtterKnowledge is Power In today’s blog post Manuel Etter follows the historical traces of this saying emphasizing an action-oriented quality of knowledge rather than its power maintaining virtue. In a second step he links this historical meaning of knowledge with the future of development cooperation. He questions the conditions and determinants that permit to find adequate answers to the issues of the future. He asks how development cooperation and above all knowledge management and exchange should be organized in order to meet increasingly global challenges. (more…)

Integrating KM in the Ukrainian Public Administration – Some Lessons Learnt

February 14, 2012 LND Learning Elsewhere

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

Bertha CamachoMaryana KulyaIn this post, we would like to share how the Swiss – Ukrainian Decentralization Support Project (DESPRO), a SDC funded project imple-mented by Skat Consulting is starting to introduce Knowledge Management (KM) in the Ukrainian Public Administration and to reflect on some important lessons learnt so far. (more…)

Robust Management for Social Change

February 07, 2012 Adrian Gnägi Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Adrian picture for sdclan

Recently, there was a meeting in USAID on complexity theory and development. DEVCO is developing guidance on political economy analysis. The World Bank just published a research paper on participation that singles out standard management approaches as main reasons why participatory approaches normally do not work. In our business, when the big ones start talking about something, there is change in the air. And in fact similar developments are taking place in most donor agencies. (more…)

Knowledge Champions in Development Organisations: a Key Way to Promote Knowledge Sharing and Learning?

January 17, 2012 LND Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

By Riff Fullan

2010_riff_fullan copyAt an organisational level, efforts to support greater knowledge management and learning can get ‘stuck’ within a mechanistic approach, designing structures or tools when one of the most important things to think about is people and how we can create the right conditions for them to interact in productive ways. The idea of having a variety of staff playing pivotal roles in enabling greater knowledge transfer – in other words, having Knowledge Champions – is one that is well worth exploring as a complement to other institutional knowledge management efforts. (more…)

On the political economy of results terminology

October 04, 2011 Adrian Gnägi Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

By Adrian Gnägi

Adrian picture for sdclanA few weeks ago I participated in a training course on impact oriented monitoring and evaluation. The course really helped me organizing my thinking on managing development programs for impact. Time and money very well invested, I found. One critical moment for me was when one of the trainers presented an overview on results terminology. Even though her presentation was introduced with a Confucius citation (my translation: “if the concepts are not right, the order of things is lost”), she presented the 4 terminology clusters as “some do it like this, others do it like that”. I felt compelled to explain why I think this free choice of results terminology to be wrong. Since I was struggling to explain it in simple words, I decided to write it up. That’s what this post is all about: why results terminology matters. (more…)


The Tragedy of the Commons

August 30, 2011 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere, SDC Experiences

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Tenders and offers seen through the lenses of learning and sustainability

by Ernst Bolliger Agridea / Ernst BolligerTeam international

Preface: Preparing for an evaluation mission of SDC’s Mongolia Green Gold project (three key words: the Tragedy of the Commons – pasture management – herder associations) I have pictures of overgrazed pastureland, herds of cattle, goat, sheep, camels and horses in front of my eyes. In this vast landscape with generally scarce pastures there are some green spots, attractive for all herders to drive their herds for grazing.
Change of the scene.

Some two years ago, a parliamentary audit made it clear: SDC does not follow the rules about public tendering of their mandates. (more…)


The open ear in the office – catching the breeze without being outside!

August 23, 2011 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Olivia Hartmann II swAny team or group of persons working on a common topic, e.g. a thematic network of SDC, needs to ensure mutual information about and participation in relevant issues and moments.  There are different ways to do this. Peter Reinhard, former head of the international team of Agridea* has his own personal way of information management by having “an open ear in the office”.  Discover his approach, its preconditions and limitations through Olivia Hartmann’s  interview, and find her own conclusions addressing  SDC collaborators.

by Olivia Hartmann, Agridea/Team International

Peter Reinhard, you have been workingin a shared office within the International Team of Agridea for long years, even in your function as head of that team and of other entities within Agridea. What is your first spontaneous thought when you hear “the open ear in the office”?

So many things happen in the office – a phone call here, a quick question amongst colleagues there. The open ear allows me to pick up a lot of information and grasp roughly what is going on without having to invest extra time…. Or at least I know where I need to invest more time to ask further questions.

These are all positive associations. Are there any negative aspects of the open ear? (more…)

E-facilitation – Facilitation gone online. How to smite the bite! Part 2

July 05, 2011 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Olivia Hartmann II swIn the first part of this blog I looked at e-faciliation and how it compares to face to face facilitation. For this second part I asked myself, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the online situation and what would be the content of a twenty minutes crash-course on “the specifics of online facilitaiton”. And as a round-up of both blog posts on e-facilitaiton I share my thoughts on the future prospects of facilitation in cyberspace. (more…)

Innovation – the essence of learning in a changing world

June 29, 2011 Manuel Flury Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Manuel picture for sdclanBy Manuel Flury

 “The world is changing! Never has the challenge to a sustainable pathway been more urgent than today. Societies need to develop their innovative power. So has development cooperation to adapt. Innovation is key to future Swiss international cooperation.”  These were the words of a colleague when he came to my office some weeks back. “Give me some elements for what innovation for SDC should mean and link up with our practice and experiences with innovations” was what he asked us to provide him. Is he looking for the ultimate solution to a better world? Or for the golden eggs SDC should promote? “The statement should be programmatic, if possible told as a story and be at least as far-looking as what the cutting edge technology research in Lausanne or Zurich does!” Magics were expected from us! We immediately wrote to some of our mates asking them what being innovative as an agency would mean to them. What follows has emerged from this exchange. (more…)

MfDR – what’s the problem with impact oriented program steering?

May 25, 2011 Adrian Gnägi Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

 Adrian picture for sdclan



by Adrian Gnägi


A few years ago, when I was posted in Amman, we frequently visited my wife’s family in Beirut. That made for long rides on monotonous Middle Eastern desert highways. The deal with the kids was that they could wish for stories to be told. One of their favorites was the illustrated book “Beaver, give us a ride”. The story goes like this: Beaver uses a hollow log as boat on the river. His friends are not impressed: nice, but small. So beaver builds a large raft and invites one after the other of his friends to come on board. When bear joins after all the others, there definitely is no space left. The friends try to prevent an uninvited butterfly from landing on the overloaded raft in the rapids, but …

The story is a beautiful explanation of complexity theory for children. Our kids used to discuss for hours whether and how the wreckage could have been prevented. They asked to review the pages where the different friends joined the party, discussing who could have done what differently at which moment to prevent the accident. The better they knew the story and the pictures, the more weak signals they discovered. In the end they realized there would have been steering potential in every single scene, right from the beginning.

But why was this steering potential not realized, why was the catastrophe not prevented from happening? Standard MfDR (managing for development results) thinking explains impact as the end of the result chain: impact happens in a distant future, when all outputs have been produced, when outputs have interacted with other factors into outcomes, and when other forces have diluted outcome influence in the attribution gap. 

Beaver’s story shows why the MfDR impact model is not useful for development program steering:

  • When impact is conceptualized as happening in the distant future, all impact induced steering opportunities are forgone, because they lie in the past. At the moment when the friends are swimming to the shore, they cannot prevent the wreckage any more.
  • The attribution gap prevents from knowing what kind of steering should have happened – the cause-effect chain is broken. When the friends discuss who was to be blamed, they agree none of them had caused the result – it was the butterfly’s fault! (more…)

MfDR – what is “Capacity WORKS”?

May 03, 2011 Adrian Gnägi Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Adrian picture for sdclanby Adrian Gnägi 


20 years ago I worked as a consultant for GTZ. Those were the golden years of ZOPP (Zielorientierte Projektplanung). I got trained on ZOPP, I was forced to use ZOPP. I learned to hate ZOPP as naïve, pseudo-participatory planning tyranny. In November 2010 I attended a training workshop on “Capacity WORKS”, the approach that replaced ZOPP in GTZ. I could hardly believe what I saw and heard: a real tectonic shift, a different paradigm. In this post I will share some of the great things I learned. And yes: not everything is brilliant with “Capacity WORKS”; I will write about the weaknesses, too. (more…)