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Our last Knowledge Sharing Meeting...

Our last Knowledge Sharing Meeting...

Posted by ysongowilliams on 3 Aug 2017

We hosted the 10th and final TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meeting (KSM) a couple of weeks ago, and it was a bittersweet experience for me.

Over the course of the 2-day conference we welcomed 208 implementers, donors, and researchers from 60 organizations and 12 countries. We also hosted 12 concurrent sessions, facilitated 17 lunchtime discussions and generated over 187 tweets!

This meeting was an apt culmination of 7 years of peer learning, knowledge sharing, and networking in global food security and nutrition programming.  And we reflected not only on the collective accomplishments, innovations and lessons learned over the life of the program, but also looked forward to ways in which the greater food security and nutrition community can keep moving forward and driving collaborative learning in the years ahead.

It was a welcome contrast to my first KSM a couple of years ago, when as a new TOPS member I felt a little bit of that awkward ‘newness.’ This time around, it was wonderful to chat easily with so many colleagues, who I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with during the program. And there were many other highlights: an engaging and SO humorous keynote address by Matt Nims, Acting Director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, for one. The diversity of topics discussed, the wealth of knowledge that attendees had AND the incredible generosity everyone showed in sharing this knowledge with others blew my mind; it always does.

To me, these are key elements of TOPS’ legacy: the open exchanges; those strong relationships, both at the personal and organizational level, that can lead to many opportunities for collaboration, shared learning and improved programming.

What were the highlights of #KSDC17 for you? Please let us know.

Reflections from the KSM

Posted by ktabaj on 3 Aug 2017

Five years from now I'm sure I'll have a more eloquent response to this question.

As someone who has planned and facilitated sessions for KSMs, it felt that I was finally able to get some parts right!  Given that I was not born a natural performer, I finally felt I achieved a small victory by not defaulting to a panel session and engaged the audience more than I did in the past.  This feeling is one that I share about the KSM as a whole.  It felt as though we engaged in different ways rather than just going from session to session.  

The KSMs have elevated my understanding and changed my thought process on how best knowledge is shared.  Online networks can try, but they just can't replace face-to-face meetings!

thoughts on the final KSM

Posted by aaakesson on 8 Aug 2017

I really enjoyed the session where the task forces met and reported out. I participated in the SBC Task Force discussion, but learned so much from the report outs from other groups which reflected on their accomplishments, including processes that worked well, and next challenges and opportunities in their area of specialization. I thought I'd share some of my notes from the SBCT TF discussion. We listed concrete tools that have been published like the multi-sectoral Designing for Behavior Change manual, Make Me a Change Agent, and REALIZE. But the richest part of the discussion was around the culture of the group over the years. The SBC TF has consciously tried to be non-prescriptive in terms of tools and approaches, instead focusing on recommending solid tools and helping implementers sort through which ones might best meet their needs. Like most of the Task Forces, we said that cross-task force collaboration would have been fruitful if challenging in terms of time.

Finally, we hoped that the SBC Task Force, and the work of TOPS more broadly, has led to more understanding among implementers of how social and behavior change designing, including using formative research findings, can improve programs—covereage, quality, actual behavior change, and outcomes. We reflected that even doing an imperfect process can yield program insights; and that collateral benefits of SBC approaches for staff include learned curiosity and humility.


Knowledge exchange can change lives

Posted by hollycollins on 9 Aug 2017

I am so honored that I got to be a part of the last TOPS Knowledge Sharing Meeting! The value of what TOPS and the FSN Network community of practice has done for the food security implementing community really hit home for me at this event. Specifically, the value of knowledge sharing and collaboration and community over competition. When you bring hundreds of implementers, donors, and researchers together and start to hear about the work they're doing in the field, you realize that the knowledge exchange and networking that's happening right here in DC can be life saving and life changing.

A couple of key highlights for me:

  • The videos - As a Communications Associate for the FSN Network, I love good storytelling. The TOPS overview video and the Knowledge Sharing Meeting overview video really helped tell the TOPS story and what has been accomplished by YOU, our community, these past seven years.
  • I loved hearing about just a few of the many Small Grants that have been funded by The TOPS Program. When the funding is available, FFP implementing partners do some really stinking cool research, programs, and workshops. You can review the Small Grants session here. We also recently uploaded the Small Grants, Big Impact II document to the resource library.

Thanks for those who have responded - I love hearing about how knowledge sharing and networking has impacted you and your programming. What else did you learn or experience at the Knowledge Sharing Meeting?

Starting Dialogue, Building Community

Posted by atodela on 11 Aug 2017

First off, I would like to tip my hat off to the FSN Network community who made KSDC17 a memorable one -- sharing successes and progress, admitting that challenges still exists, but nevertheless passionately continuing that dialogue key to the exchange of lessons learned and best practices, and collaboration among the community for improved food security programming. 

Starting the dialogue and continuing it past Knowledge Sharing Meetings is the highlight I will take away and promote in my own work. I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that produced the retrospective video on the TOPS/FSN Network Knowledge Sharing Meetings. It was a humbling experience to listen to the narrative of The TOPS Program and the Knowledge Sharing Meetings as we interviewed members of the community (donor, implementer, and TOPS staff) on how these meetings came to be and what they have evolved into seven years along. It all started with wanting to start dialogue and facilitate the immense amount of knowledge had by donor, implementing and research organizations, who were all working towards the same goal of delivering food security development programs. The idea was why not bring all of these people together – in-person and virtually – to work together and help each other towards their exact same goal. I believe this idea was realized. Seven years on, we are now a thriving community that is willing and eager to learn together, to collaborate together, and to innovate together.

Not only hearing from the community but also seeing them put what “starting and continuing dialogue” means into action during conference sessions and in-between during breaks was truly a cool thing to see. 


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