Knowledge Fairs

See also Feria de Conocimiento / Les foires des connaissances

Brief Description:

Knowledge fairs are face to face events in which participants set up displays to share their undertakings. Knowledge Fairs can be external image cifal_photo2.jpginternal to an organization or open to partners and the public. They are "free-flowing, open, flexible, and non-hierarchical.... People can see what is happening, can interact with each other, and can see what others are doing. It has the same characteristics as a medieval fair, mixing up all different levels and types of people in a variety of interaction." (CGIAR Toolkit). Knowledge fairs can be designed for internal and/or external audiences.
From GD Net: A Knowledge Fair aims to:
  • Provide opportunities for multiple parties to broadcast their achievements, exhibit their products, and market new programs to donors, policymakers, other institutes and potential partners.
  • Facilitate face to face networking and promote South-North exchange on common agendas.
  • Help people benefit from each other's experiences.
  • Stimulate interest in future collaboration and the development of new programs.

History

One of the first knowledge fairs took place at the World Bank in March 1998. Designed as a way of communicating what knowledge management or KM means in those early days of knowledge management/sharing, it not only showcased the various activities around the organization, but actually legitimized the knowledge movement. Any resistance to holding the event and/or participating in it melted when told that Jim Wolfensohn, then president of the Bank Group, would be opening the fair. And, then he said that the fair had brought his vision of a knowledge bank to life, that his concept was now visible to everyone in the atrium! Knowledge Fairs and Expos were held subsequently at the Annual Meetings of the Bank and the IMF, with the latest one being held in June 2012.

When to use:

  • As part of annual meetings or gatherings.
  • At a country, community or global level to share the current status of work or a project.
  • To bring the concept of knowledge sharing to life, to show staff, management, clients and other partners what is being done to share development knowledge
  • To foster informal networking and problem solving.

How to use:

Knowledge Fairs require some planning. Steve Denning and the ILO offer these Dos and Don'ts for organizing a Knowledge Fair:
  • Do think about why you are doing a fair and what you hope to accomplish with it.
  • Do get top level support.
  • Do publicize the fair widely.
  • Do put the fair on a main thoroughfare with a lot of foot traffic, e.g. in the atrium of the organization.
  • Do put your best communities of practice on display.
  • Do be realistic about how much time it takes for communities to prepare and display.
  • Do get common physical displays for booths so as to convey an image of diversity with integration.
  • Do plan ahead for electric power, which can be substantial if computers are used.
  • Do plan to have technicians on hand when things break down.
  • Do plan for security of equipment when booths are not staffed.
  • Don't plan in too much detail for the actual booths -- communities can self-organize within a common framework.
  • Don't accept a decision to put the fair in an out-of-the way space - location is essential for a successful fair.
  • Do take culture and linguistic diversity into account. Decide if you want a multilingual event; if so, address budgetary implications, allow extra preparation time and schedule parallel events.
  • Do provide a feedback mechanism for the audience.
  • Do capture what happens - take pictures, record interviews with participants, etc.
  • Don't be too serious - a fair can be fun.
  • Try ideas that will encourage people to visit the booths and engage with the booth people, such as a scavenger hunt to find answers to questions or "knowledge nuggets" (these were pre-written by each booth; visitors were offered biscotti which were each wrapped in a question; visitors then had to answer the question; some winning responses were drawn from a bucket at the end of the fair and awarded prizes).
  • Have lots of visual interest - colorful displays, candy and/or other "take-aways" - that will attract people to your space.
  • Don't huddle behind your display reading your emails on your phone!
  • Make eye-contact, smile warmly, come out of your booth to talk to people. The more people you have around your booth, the more you will attract!

Tips and Lessons

  • Learn thttp://www.dgroups.org/groups/km4dev/index.cfm?op=dsp_showmsg&listname=km4dev-l&msgid=244583&cat_id=11846 From: Sebastiao Ferreira mailto:sebastiaomf@hotmail.com Sent: Thu 6/23/2005 03:18 To: Knowledge Management for International Development Organisations Subject: [km4dev-l] RE: Knowledge Fair reporting. I organized a Knowledge Fair one year ago, for CARE USA, in Atlanta. But I did not develop a methodology for evaluating Knowledge Fairs. What I can share with you is my experience.
    knowledge__fair.jpg
    1. Before the Fair, I defined the concept of the Fair and what I should understand as success and as failure of the Fair, as indicators of success. This Fair was very particular; it was oriented to knowledge projects (future knowledge generation and/or sharing), not to gather knowledge generated experiences from the past. These indicators were:
    a. The relevance (for development) of the ideas of the knowledge projects.
    b. The level of interest in KM (at social and organizational level) generated by the Fair in expositors and visitors.
    c. The amount of idea and knowledge sharing among expositors and visitors.

    2. To make my evaluation I prepared a questionnaire for expositors and an interview scheme for some key visitors.

    3. Before the Fair finished, I submitted the questionnaire to expositors. During the Fair and after it ended, I interviewed some key visitors, who were stakeholders for the organizers.

    4. My evaluation was made based on the perceptions I collected with questionnaires and interviews and on my own opinion of the relevance of the projects.

    5. The reconstruction of the process of promoting and organizing the Fair was also very useful to interpret the meaning of final results.

    6. And that is all I am able to share with you this moment.
    Espíritu y Oportunidad
    Sebastiao Darlan Mendonça Ferreira www.ideas2ideas.com emails: sebastiaomf@hotmail.com sebastiao@ideas2ideas.com

Examples & Stories

1. Before the Fair I defined the concept of the Fair and what I should understand as success and as failure of the Fair, as indicators of success. This Fair was very particular; it was oriented to knowledge projects (future knowledge generation and/or sharing), not to gather knowledge generated experiences from in the past. These indicators was:
1. The relevance (for development) of the ideas of the knowledge projects. 2. The level of interest in KM (at social and organizational level) generated by the Fair in expositors and visitors. 3. The amount of ideas and knowledge sharing among expositors and visitors.
2. To make my evaluation I prepared a questionnaire to expositors and an interview scheme for applying to some key visitors. 3. Before the Fair finished I applied the questionnaire to expositors. During the Fair and after its end I interviewed some key visitors, who were stakeholders for the organizers. 4. My evaluation was made based on the perceptions I collected with questionnaire ant interviews and on my own opinion about the relevance of the projects. 5. The reconstruction of the process of promoting and organizing the Fair was also very useful to interpret the meaning of final results. 6. And that is all I am able to share with you this moment.
Espíritu y Oportunidad
Sebastiao Darlan Mendonça Ferreira

Who can tell me more?

  • Eduardo Figueroa (e.figueroa [at] cgiar.org)
  • Simone Staiger (s.staiger [at] cgiar.org)
  • Fiona Chandler (f.chandler [at] cgiar.org)
  • Olga Paz (olga [at] colnodo.apc.org)
  • Gauri Salokhe (gauri.salokhe [at] fao.org)
  • Nadejda Loumbeva (nadejda.loumbeva [at] fao.org )
  • Sophie Treinen (sophie.treinen [at] fao.org)
  • Lesley Shneier (lshneier@gmail.com)

Related Methods and Tools


More Information/References/Related Resources:


Tags:

adaptation, adoption, collaboration, communication, cooperation, dissemination, stakeholders, interaction, innovation

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  • Innovation Marketplace AGM06