Thursday, 19 June 2008
Home days Wageningen International
This week we had our 'home days' at Wageningen International. Twice a year all staff at WI is gathering to share experiences of the last period, discuss strategies of the organisation and to give input to operational issues. This is also a time to have fun together and do some team building.
On Monday we had a morning sharing management issues and highlights and challenges of the first months of 2008. We also looked at knowledge management in Wageningen International.
In the afternoon some colleagues gave presentations on two concepts that have gained more importance in our organisation: 'complexity' and 'managing for impact'. Complexity builds on the idea of systems thinking and chaos. Development issues and processes are very difficult to analyse and solutions hard to predict. However, often very complex systems can still be explained by a few simple, organising rules. This also relates to the 'managing for impact' approach which is a way to put monitoring and evaluation at the heart of participation and learning of development processes.
Tuesday was completely dedicated to the 'branding' of our organisation: to sharpen our profile and create consistent messages about who we are and how we can prove this image to our clients. Some interesting things emerged from this and we will definitely see some concrete outputs from this in the near future (keep checking this blog and our website).
Wednesday was spent on sharing current projects and future opportunities in the different theme groups within our organisation. This was an excellent opportunity for newcomers like myself to get to know the work of colleagues and to establish the linkages between projects and ideas.
There were plenty of of opportunities for informal sharing during joint lunches and having drinks together at the end of the home days. Some colleagues had cooked a delicious Indonesian meal for all of us on Wednesday, showing some hidden talents that were just fantastic.
The idea of home days is building on the Home Week concept from CDRA (see article), a capacity building NGO from South Africa. Staff in CDRA take a week every month for horizontal learning. For us one week a month is a bit too much, but having regular joint events for reflection, strategizing, learning, team building and fun, is definitely something crucial for a healthy organisation. The home days were a great opportunity for learning and sharing, and I was happy to be part of the organising team.