Sunday, January 25, 2009

Capacity Development for ICCO Desk officers 21-22 January 2009

"This course was dynamic, informative, very useful and connected to our work! I can directly apply the tools in my work. I learned a lot from my colleagues. There was room for exchange and the input from the resource persons in the is course had an added value!"

From 21 - 22 January 2009, Desk Officers from the development organisation ICCO participated in the second part of the training Capacity Development of Partner Organisations. This training which was facilitated by Simon Koolwijk, provided participants the space to present practical cases on how they had applied their lessons learned during the first training on 18 - 19 November 2008.

Cases where shared about capacity development of partner organisations in the Pacific, Asia and Africa. Desk officers had applied some of the organisational analysis tools to assess the capacities of their partners. Three resource persons; Hettie Walters, Angelica Senders (both from ICCO) & Ben Haagsma (IC Consult) provided feedback and input to the presentations. Some of the trends which were identified by the participants were; "capacity development is much more focused on strengthening specific domains in the organisation which further help to empower organisations. Elaborated organisation scans are not relevant anymore" "If an organisation is functioning well, it is not relevant to do an organisational analysis"; "Trust on the self-help capacities of a partner organisation. Do not immediately involve a consultant." "Work with the organisations who have focused leadership, team spirit and a vision". "If you have partnerships with such organisations, it will lead to sustainable results."

On the 22nd January 2009 Ben Haagsma (IC-Consult) led a session about monitoring & evaluation of capacity development. Participants assessed his presentation as very inspiring. Some of the lessons which were shared: "Do not focus too much on the proving aspect of results, but also focus on the soft part of improving". If your partner is able to describe changing trends over the years and what the relevant organisation has seen changing as part of a capacity development intervention it shows aspects of improving. A helpfull tool to identify such trends are the principles of the "Most Significant Change". Also the aspect of demystification was a major learning. Monitoring & evaluation should not be something complex, but make it simple and focus on asking simple questions about changes in the organisation, and do not collect too many statistics. Capacity development is also like an hour glass. Assessment of capacities is broad, you focus your strategic intervention and then you monitor & evaluate broadly the changes of capacities in an organisation during and after a capacity development intervention. More of Ben Haagsma's experiences and useful tools can be read in the publication "Planning, monitoring and evaluation in development organisations". This book was one of the rewards participants received at the end of the training. The book "Capacity Building Framework" published by Intrac was the other useful guide the ICCO - Desk Officers received.
The training had provided a good framework for connecting theory with the dynamic and realities of the workfield.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Elmine Wijnia, Joitske Hulsebosch, Sibrenne Wagenaar and Simon Koolwijk present themselves at the promotion video. Elmine Wijnia compiled a 4 minute video on what you can do with web2.0 tools and on how they can improve your work and give you the pleasure of a new adventure.

For more information about our web 2.0 tools, contact us through

A new organisational approach - WVP Ijsselmeergebied, Rijkswaterstaat - 12th January 2009

How to keep the knowledge in the organisation? How do we improve the quality of our work? And how do we organize ourselves to meet the challenges for the future? What will be my role in a changing organisation? And which competencies do I need to develop? And which knowledge do we need? These were some of the key questions, which were discussed by staff members from the WVP unit of Rijkswaterstaat Ijsselmeergebied.

WVP is a unit which is active in keeping up the infrastructure for waterinfrastructure and physical infrastructure to protect The Netherlands from wateroverflow. The unit is now in a phase that it wants to maintain the quality of its work by working more efficient. One of the challenges is to delegate more responsibilities to the Commercial Constructors and focus more on product and process controls. During the workshop on the 12th January 2009 staff members visualised and discussed on how they see their organisation develop towards 2012.

The workshop was led by Frans Scheepens from Scheepens communication. My role (Simon Koolwijk) was to be co-facilitator with Karen Boerdam and Ad Dijkstra in guiding the staff members in vizualising their future organisation. Main part of the workshop was to work in different small groups, which were adding and deepening their ideas on others. How to organize, what to include and some relevant key aspects such as how to keep and expand the necessary knowledge were some key items in the discussions.

Small groups were working in a varation of setting. The meditation room, the kitchen room, the sitting room with an open fire and the sports hall were the pre-sets used to help the participants to change their perspectives. Added value of the settings gave participants the opportunity to share freely, move and work hard.

The pre-sets are one of the unique selling points of the LEF Future Centre. They play an important role in assisting the Dutch government departments in dealing with complex issues in the area of water-, road and air infrastructure.

After the brainstorm workshops 4 different groups presented their ideas to the Management of WVP Ijsselmeergebied on how they would like to see their organisation develop in the next three years. Both the Director and the Management Team had an opportunity to respond and give clearity on the next steps.
Karen Boerdam facilitated the final part of the meeting with music creating the mindset for an inspiring closing. Sounds of blues, celtic, rock, reagea, classical and rap music provided towards a warm and spontanous ending. Participants shared their wishes through a written handprint on a galary. The noise of clapping ballons symbolized the closing of an energetic and hardworking day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Planning & Capacity Development at ICCO HQ, 7th & 8th January 2009

Central Asia is one of the 11 regions to which ICCO is decentralising its operations. The operation is called ProCoDe. Pro = Programmatic approach where partner organisations work in thematic coalitions to deal with problems such as poverty alliviation, improve access to basic services, improve economic conditions and promote Peace and Democracy. Co = co-responsibility; This means that local key leaders and experts from each of the 11 regions are involved in long term policy making of ICCO. What are the main themes, the main target groups we would like to support in our region? These are some of the questions which are being dealt with by Regional Councils where these local leaders are being part of. De = Decentralisation; In this process responsibilities and roles from the Central Working Office in Utrecht, The Netherlands are being tranfered to the Regional Working Office in Central Asia (i.e. Kirchystan, Kazachstan & Tjajikistan).
On the 8th January 2009 Simon Koolwijk facilitated the planning process which signified the transition in handing over responsibilities from the Central Working Office to the Regional Working Office of ICCO in Bishkek, Central Asia. The meeting was composed of sharing the current situation and future plans in the areas of 1. Local Market Development, 2. Financial Services, 3. Access to Basic Services such as programmes on HIV/ Aids, 4. Democracy & Peace, 5. Climate Change and 6. Capacity Building. The second part of the meeting was composed of an operational planning where activities for handing over where specifically planned and shared.

"It was a constructive meeting where we were able to meet all of our pre-determined objectives" was one of the comments from the participants. "It was a good and fruitfull atmosphere!"

On the previous day, Simon Koolwijk trained one of the Senior Capacity Builders in methods of capacity development. The main role of the Capacity Development advisor will be to assist in expanding and strengthening the Financial Service sector for the poor in Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern Congo. This Financial Advisor will be conducting work for ICCO, Terrafina and the Rabobank Foundation.

It was a course which provided some insight in the concepts of capacity development and the tools, which are available for organisational analysis. Unfortunately, the time was too short, to get more practise and in-depth knowledge about the tools. However, it was very useful, commented the Financial Advisor.