Creating common ground for working together – what it needs and why it matters

May 17, 2017 Blog Admin Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Jany picture


Workshop space is precious space we want to use wisely. Creating the right conditions is the facilitator’s job. It is part of the design process to think about how to create these conditions and the ambiance conducive for working and learning together in a productive and inspiring way. In this blog post, we share our reflection on what it takes and why it matters to create a common ground for working together.

By Jany Barraut, Beyond Boundaries and Nadia von Holzen, Learning Moments (more…)

K4D and the Trouble of Measuring Impact

April 21, 2017 Natalie Frei Change Stories, Learning Elsewhere

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

quadraticAt the beginning of April, Knowledge Managers from diverse backgrounds travelled to Geneva to witness the formal inauguration of the Knowledge for Development (K4D) Partnership and to honor the UN Joint Inspection Unit’s (JIU) report on Knowledge Management in the United Nations system. There was a broad consensus that the lack of ways to measure impact inhibits the potential of knowledge management and that the community needs to raise awareness for the importance of KM in preventing reinventions of the wheel.

By Natalie Frei, SDC


The Story behind the Story

February 24, 2016 Leonie Pock Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

_I0A2470 (Large)Behind each story there is another story. Our stories are connected. So is the story about the Mongolian herders connected with Udval, a young leader supporting herder communities in Western Mongolia. Udval uses participatory video to give the herders voice and to support their sharing and learning. Soyolmaa Dolgor, communication specialist working for SDC Mongolia, travelled with Udval to Tsetseg soum, Khovd province to document her meeting with the herders’ community.

Soyolmaa Dolgor, SDC Mongolia


The power to share, learn and cooperate in networks – el poder de trabajar en red

February 03, 2016 Blog-Admin1 SDC Experiences, SDC Networks

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

MariCarmen AlarconIn 2008 Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón started working as communication specialist with the SDC Cooperation Office in Bolivia. Over these years the communication approach within SDC Latin America has evolved from diffusion of information to a more integrative and participatory approach putting communication in the service of programmes and projects. An essential factor in this shift to communication for development (C4D) was sharing and learning among the communication practioners in SDC, for example in the communication network Redcolatina. A manual named “Comunicación para el Desarrollo – Una guía práctica” is the tangible result of this cooperation. 

Maria del Carmen Alarcón Lizón, SDC Bolivia (more…)

Reality check of knowledge sharing and networking in a project team

January 28, 2016 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Carsten Schulz

The end of an assignment offers a great opportunity for reflection.  Carsten Schulz shares some of his “take away points” as Team Leader with Georgian experts in a market systems development project. He underlines the importance of creating, using and sharing knowledge in a project context. “Knowledge is like a garden: if it’s not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” A sharing and learning culture needs to be cultivated and cared for by the leader and requires action and engagement of all team members.

Carsten Schulz, currently working for GIZ in Armenia (more…)

Sharing knowledge and experiences: create events that inspire and set free energy for work

October 07, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

My personal social media storyLet’s create learning events that really generate motivation and impulses for our work! This blog post suggests three approaches how to plan for more inspiring and powerful events: ask more than you tell; inquire one case deeply; and make it a learning experience for all senses.

Corinne Sprecher, Agridea


Learning together – what it needs and what it means

August 26, 2015 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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Nadia von HolzenBringing together 95 learning practitioners does not provide a guarantee to joint learning nor community forming. Learning together needs space for joint inquiry and deliberation. Learning together needs true and deep conversations. Conversations are connecting and connections are the condition for deep conversations.

 Nadia von Holzen, SDC

Beneficiary Assessment Revisited: where does it fit?

February 05, 2014 Blog-Admin1 Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences

Rating: none

Riff FullanIt sounds wonderful: gaining real insight into the impact of a project from the point of view of intended beneficiaries! But can it satisfy the needs of development organisations to assess and report on the work they support? The answer is yes. A Beneficiary Assessment  isn’t always going to be the right thing to do, but it can provide valuable evidence relating to project outcomes and impact.

By Riff Fullan, Helvetas


Take up a challenge – visualise democracy!

December 04, 2013 Blog-Admin1 Learning Elsewhere, Methods & Tools

Rating: none


Have you ever tried to imagine democracy? How does it look like? Do you see it as close as your neighbourhood or as far as the national state? We posed similar questions to more than 20 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were challenged to revoke, analyse and visualise very intimate relationships in the society and their bonds with the state. This process created new spaces for people – space for revoking personal stories, space for visualisation of experiences, space for learning, space for establishing relationships, and space for deepening knowledge about democracy.

By Snezana Mišić Mihajlović,  Centre for Management, Development and Planning, Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Twitter for Sharing and Learning – an Introduction for Beginners

November 27, 2013 Blog-Admin1 Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Have you ever thought about starting to twitter? Are you still wondering how Twitter works? Then this  2‘53‘’ video is the right starting point. It explains the basics.

By Nadia von Holzen, SDC with the support of Nadja Schnetzler, Word and Deed; Nadejda Loumbeva, Helvetas-Intercooperation; Daniel Stoller-Schai LerNetz (more…)

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


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…)

Three Reasons to Organize your Next Workshop in the Open Space Format

February 06, 2013 bit-wartung Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Are you planning a face-face meeting to explore key issues and design action plans? The Open Space methodology would definitively be an option. Read how the key elements of Open Space – the circle, the joint agenda setting, and the free discussion space – could create momentum to advance important issues.

By Nadia von Holzen, SDC (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…)

Make your network mystically attractive like the Cube of Murten

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

Rating: none

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…)

Blog reading? Reasons to read our sdclan Blog

August 22, 2012 LND Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Nadia von HolzenNadia LanfranchiThis blog post asks about the motivation of reading our sdclan Blog. We are curious to know why you – dear blog reader – are with us, week for week, reading our posts and the posts of our guests. (more…)

Visual Methods in Development Cooperation – Beyond Social Reporting

November 15, 2011 LND Methods & Tools

Rating: none

By Kuno Schläfli and Nadia Lanfranchi

NadiaKuno SchläfliLast week the Democratisation and Local Governance Network (DLGN) and the Multimedia Group of SDC organised a workshop to explore and debate the potentials of incorporating visual methods in development cooperation. It was an occasion to dig deeper into the field, to gain insight on which possibilities open up if new communication technologies are integrated into social processes and projects. Thus, with respect to social reporting as an instrument to report collectively and in real time from face to face conferences or other events, the discussed methodologies go one step further. They aim at involving the real beneficiaries of development projects into the project cycle and seek to give them a voice and to enable others to listen to their stories. (more…)

Experience documentation on e-discussion campaigns with consolidated replies: A dlgn learning project on donor support for local government finances

August 02, 2011 Adrian Gnägi Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Bertha Camacho for sdclanAdrian picture for sdclan

by Bertha Camacho and Adrian Gnägi

Solution Exchange pioneered a structured way to conduct e-discussions, called “e-discussion campaigns with consolidated replies”. The structure of those e-discussions looks like this:

  • A query is posted on the e-forum of a network and experience carriers are invited to post replies within a pre-determined time frame. Frequently, the moderator supports members with the wording of the query, making sure the query is short, easy to understand and appealing to be answered.
  • Moderators lobby experienced network members to post replies in the e-forum. This lobbying is worked mostly over the phone. According to Solution Exchange, it is the major time investment of the e-moderator.
  • When the discussion campaign is over, the e-moderator sums up the discussion in a “consolidated reply”. The e-moderator condenses the main messages into an easy-to-understand analytical summary and includes all individual contributions in full into the document.

This post reflects on the first “e-discussion campaign with consolidated replies” conducted by SDC’s “decentralization and local governance” network (dlgn) (more…)

“Voices 2.0”- Revolutionizing Participation within Development Cooperation

July 12, 2011 bit-wartung SDC Experiences

Rating: none

Patrick KalasThe “Facebook Revolution” is in everyone’s mouth: How come? What does the power of web 2.0 imply for operational activities aiming to increase participation in socio, economic and political change processes? Patrick Kalas (former ICT4D officer/SDC) illuminates the phenomenon, not without sparking a critical reflection on its side-effects, and shares keyfindings from an upcoming SDC workingpaper on the issue.

“……..I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul”
(Invictus by William Ernest Henley)

The genie is out of the bottle. Scanning the news reveals that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones, Internet, Satellite television and social media are having an effect on events in the so-called Arab Spring. The “Facebook Revolution” is becoming a buzzword. Not sure how and why, click here. Does this have any practical significance for our operational activities in projects or programs aiming to increase participation in socio, economic and political change processes? (more…)

The Black Box of Governmental Learning – A Conversation with Raoul Blindenbacher

October 13, 2010 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

sdclan_bigBy Tobias Sommer
Good governance is one of the keys to contemporary development cooperation: It is considered the magic solution that allows developing countries to make the big step ahead. It sounds simple—yet it is obviously complicated to achieve. It needs the political will to promote good governance through possibly far-reaching reform, the knowledge about how to do it, and especially that governments learn from their own or others’ experiences. Just providing information and instructions to governments does not suffice for this: They also have to transform the acquired knowledge into action. Unfortunately, this crucial transformation process is far from understood. After all, a government, with its complex composition of actors and political environment, cannot be expected to learn and behave like an individual or an ordinary organization.

In the recent World Bank publication The Black Box of Governmental Learning (Executive Summary PDF), Raoul Blindenbacher1 (in collaboration with Bidjan Nashat) sheds some light on this question. I had the opportunity to talk to Raoul Blindenbacher (RB) and get some answers to questions that had emerged while I was reading his book. (more…)

f2f-meetings of SDC networks – lessons to be learned (II)

October 05, 2010 bit-wartung SDC Networks

Rating: none

Michèle picture for sdclanBy Michèle Marin
By now, a series of the SDC networks have come up with their first international f2f meetings. Their experiences reveal a few recurrent lessons to  be learned, and trigger questions on how to best manage a f2f event. The SDC Learning & Networking team reflects upon them in a loose series of blog posts. This second post considers implications of the 1/3 principle (cf. post I, Sept.8) on planning a f2f, and explores concepts suitable to meet upcoming participants’ needs during a meeting. (more…)

Sketching at Work: How Drawing Together Instead of Presenting Improves Knowledge Sharing

September 29, 2010 bit-wartung Methods & Tools

Rating: none

Roland PfisterIn today’s guest post, Roland Pfister from the =mcm Media & Communication Institute of the University of St. Gallen writes about the downsides of using PowerPoint and pre-printed handouts as collaboration tools in meetings. He explains how new sketching concepts can stimulate systematic, collaborative and creative thinking in meetings, and illustrates this with the example of the Root Cause Iceberg sketch, one of 35 sketching templates presented in the guide “Sketching at Work” by Martin Eppler and Roland Pfister. (more…)

f2f-meetings of SDC networks – lessons to be learned (I)

September 07, 2010 bit-wartung SDC Networks

Rating: none

Michèle picture for sdclanBy Michèle Marin
By now, a series of the SDC networks have come up with their first international f2f meetings.  The experiences reveal a few recurrent lessons to be learned, and trigger questions on how to best manage a f2f event. The SDC Learning & Networking team reflects upon them in a loose series of blog posts.  This first post considers the f2f event as a key moment of network development, and explores the adequate level of participation of network members before and during the meeting.

How do I organise a f2f event of a thematic learning network? Shall it rather be a thematic training or a network-development event? How much member-involvement in programming and preparation makes sense? Coming up with their first f2f-event, a series of SDC thematic learning networks have been facing this kind of questions. (more…)

Networks, f2f and promoting participation – the Helvetas experience

July 06, 2010 bit-wartung Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Riff für sdclanWhy should you bother for participatory methodologies in f2f meetings of networks, if frontal plenary sessions seem to be so much easier to organise? The value added does not only concern the atmosphere and output of a f2f meeting itself, but also the way network-members will collaborate virtually beyond the meeting.
Riff Fullan, knowledge coordinator at Helvetas, shares with us his reflections on the Helvetas experience in network facilitation.

Knowledge Networks: Dynamic Development or Tight Structuring?

June 30, 2010 Manuel Flury Learning Elsewhere

Rating: none

Photo Katharina Conradin

An Interview
with Katharina Conradin, regiosuisse

Manuel Flury: Katharina, you are one of the moderators of the regiosuisse knowledge communities. What is regiosuisse?

Katharina Conradin: regiosuisse is the network unit for regional development in Switzerland. It supports people involved in regional development with practice-oriented knowledge management. regiosuisse offers various concerted services so that the knowledge about regional development can be developed, acquired and exchanged – the knowledge communities are one of those. (more…)