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Following the excellent example of the ILRI@40 Nairobi event team which organized an after action review on 09 October 2014 (and a similar virtual effort for ILRI Addis and generally, [| on Yammer]), another larger after-action review discussion was organised on 11 December 2014 to draw lessons from the overall series of events.//

Hereby some notes from Ewen Le Borgne - which ought to be complemented by other peoples' notes.

General feelings about the ILRI@40 series of events

Susan MacMillan: More science, more fresh faces, more flair, more women, more guidance (esp. Addis event), more panelists on the same page. Use Google docs for more collaboration on docs… (e.g. ILRI@40) – a lot of editing… Less food. More DDG support to posters to convene and comply…

Shirley Tarawali: Much easier to organize side events at others’ events. We need to be part of other peoples’ meetings. Organizing a livestock meeting is not going to get livestock anywhere.

Ben Hack: Still trying to rein in all the strands of contact etc. from all events and it takes days to go through spreadsheets. Etc. Communication defaults to email – we could find easier ways to work than this.

Nadine Sanginga: We wanted to achieve a few objectives… (mentioned in the concept note) and we have achieved those.

Jo Cadilhon: Too much protocol, getting big names on stage that were not coordinated and too far away. I have suggestions to improve this for future events. For overall coordination, great investment with Nadine despite having small committees for specific events. My feedback on AACAA: enough time for discussion. Using Gdocs makes a lot of scientists uncomfortable because they can’t directly see who has modified what. Reduce protocol. Get close to the audience. At dairy value chain, 5 panelists with 10’ and then 30’ for Q&A to talk directly with them, in parallel. How to get panelists on the same wavelength? Work on a dialogue map with the panelists so we know what we’ll talk about more or less. Fewer panelists (3-4) is better to give them time for conversation and questions.

Susan MacMillan: Preaching to the choir. We need more women and younger people. And a lesson I learned was to regularly get up and talk to other organizers, to inspire them and/or be inspired by them and their ideas (rather than focus on to-do lists, emailing memos, etc. to the exclusion of person-to-person interactions).

Ewen Le Borgne (not mentioned during the AAR, posted here afterwards): We should have had much more crisp instructions about what the groups are supposed to work on (and the role that some people are playing e.g. session conveners, session process support specialists, dragons, etc.) as e.g. they didn’t know really how to perform their function/role. It was not clear to all if we focused on Research, development or both, on ILRI only or more. The last session (dragons’ den) was too long. Perhaps have first a bus stop to run through the presentations and then have the visitors give their feedback on what they really liked about what was presented – for a shorter time? Get early at ILRI to sort out things and coordinate our work… What I liked:

  • Production of (thematic and impact) posters which was good
  • Interactions with colleagues, partners
  • Some unexpected cooperation (e.g. Vish / Isabelle) è encourage this
  • Setting up interactions around LinkedIn and other social media throughout
  • Family / alumni day

What I didn't like so much:

  • No clear involvement of staff in some events (Addis

> Susan adds: I too would have liked to have had a list of who in Comms was doing what at this event; I wasn't sure about some things/people.

  • So much effort from everyone for something that was not thought through enough (in terms of visioning success)

> Susan adds: I think (and I may be wrong) that we were lacking a bit in teamwork for the Addis event; would have liked to have had more 'team building' conversations for the event before and after . . . Not sure what that would look like . . .

  • Unclear results also (answers to the questions) – process these results much more rapidly
  • Some public speakers/panel moderators were not good – go for good public speakers
  • Assess budget better upfront

Events run

Tropentag: session room was terrible but we made it work. See comments Fred on this. Good branding. We should have booths at every event, especially in regions where we are not normally there. We don’t have a booth maker here but e.g. CIFOR does it very well with 3 FTE doing this, going around the world. (ST) or perhaps develop standard materials that are updated every 6 months? à Perhaps think about continental modules. JC: ILRI had a booth and there was a corporate image throughout. It would be good to regionalize that too but having livestock memorabilia to decorate the booth would be great. + custom-made materials.

ILRI@40 Nairobi__: AAR review on 9 October. All details available on the wiki. Generally people and organizers were happy. What to improve? Clarity on objectives of the team and requirements. Catering went well. Signage not very good. Evening reception went well but few issues of noise / entertainment by resident kids. ST: Great campus tour. SMM: we should have done talks first and drinks next. Loved the fact that it started late and could have stopped early (in- and out- event). The modular day was good. __DO: how to engage alumni beyond that day? Perhaps strategise this?

Borlaug dialogue: Went extremely well. Sending materials etc. worked extremely well because the packing/labeling was really helpful and appreciated. The ILRI materials were the only ones that came properly labeled. Getting Burness to help us was good too. Jimmy and Shirley helped them. How did this feed back and was followed? Perhaps a bit isolated from ILRI but we engaged with a totally different community. It was hectic at the back end but then once over there it was smooth sailing thanks to Burness and World Food Program. Some people said “we need to have this {side session} in the main program next year”.

AACAA: Most challenging – it kept changing a lot. Publications went… Perhaps focus what we’re showing off (panels, posters)… There were too many posters etc. Put more thought about what we showcase. If we’re doing an international event it may not be so good to have print publications – perhaps have electronic publications. But we didn’t have a specific page about the topics we raised about Borlaug. For each event we could have a page on our ILRI Newsblog with the pictures, publications, background notes etc.

Addis Ababa: See AAR [[1]] Not enough coordination. At the reception in Addis, some people said they hadn’t had time to prepare enough – they didn’t know well enough what they had to do. Better prepare/brief. Susan started a publication list but didn’t mean for all of it to be used. This was meant to be a master list from which anyone could pick out materials. Next time, Emaelaf take charge of the list of publications and let other organizers decide what they want to use for a given event. We need different formats.

Admin: During registration, no one specifically there to provide registration materials.

What other things to do differently next time (here again, only Ewen's notes):

  • More collaborative work upfront about who is involved (Nairobi event style, throughout)
  • Good to have someone like Nadine throughout
  • Focus on the argument, not the theme and not the speaker(s)
  • Invest in critical moderation (a la Ed Rege) – beef up our capacities and twin this with seminar series next year?
  • Do a proper AAR (meeting) over this next time

Next steps

A small committee (Shirley, Peter, Susan, Nadine, Ben and Ewen) will take these ideas forward.

  • Everyone to put their feedback on: [[2]] by end of next week for compilation?
  • Overall communication about ILRI@40 to all invited to all events?
  • Ben, Nadine on who for mailing list + Susan on what…
  • [discuss with PB] Put together a list of publications for all the events (with links to all pubs)
  • Pull together all the AARs together on a wiki page linked from ILRI comms wiki + pull out important take-home messages

Targeted events based on success we measure One event only – do more about regions (statement about not being in EAST AFRICA only) Develop more publications specifically for the event rather than churn out everything we have? Great to involve Nadine throughout Invest in critical moderation / together with presentations etc.

  • Every year have an ‘open day’ to invite influencers for an informal day…
  • Do more with alumni e.g. on LinkedIn…
  • Produce, rather than ‘organize’ an event…
  • Good to have had sthg about each event – but we should have had sthg more comprehensive to send out to the people that came or were invited or our overall audience.
  • Do a Storify of all the events…

Susan adds for next steps: Come up with a plan for creating modular building blocks for a physical display 'kit' (images, posters, ILRI strategy statements, artefacts and other items to 'dress' the exhibit) suitable for each of our major regions (SE Asia, E Asia, S Asia, S Africa, W Africa, E Africa)

Compile a list of the new influential people we reached in our ILRI@40 events and those we would now like to reach, esp. people not directly in our worlds but who could be very useful to us. Find ways (on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook as well as physically) to start intentionally engaging with them.

Here is a link to advice from On Think Tanks on how to 'produce' (rather than 'organize') events. Useful to get us thinking in new directions about our events:

How to document this? On the ILRI@40 wiki on this (and perhaps one practice brief on this

What to do in the AAR

Overall assessment (quick) + was it worth it?

  • What you liked, what you didn’t?
  • How are we planning to assess the long-term success?

What is our baseline? What have/can we put in place to assess this over time?

  • Radical ideas to do this differently next time?

Targeted events based on success we measure One event only – do more about regions (statement about not being in EAST AFRICA only) Develop more publications specifically for the event rather than churn out everything we have? - Main lessons learnt On:

  • Coordination
  • Content
  • Logistics
  • Speakers
  • Facilitation and inputs from our staff
  • Communication around it