Networks and communities at FAO: using lessons learned to nurture a learning organization


  • Nadejda Loumbeva
  • Gauri Salokhe FAO
  • Stephen Rudgard FAO
  • Stephen Katz FAO


FAO, United nations, agriculture, networks, communities of practice, lessons learned, knowledge strategy, knowledge sharing


In mid-2008, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) completed a review of its experiences with knowledge networks and communities. The review methodology included a series of focus groups and interview discussions with network sponsors, coordinators and members. Data from the focus groups were qualitative, and the findings were subjected to a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. A range of key factors were identified for the networks and communities to thrive and to be useful to the organization, including the need to sponsor from top, to ensure the right blend of membership, to support demand, to ensure a sound business case, to facilitate continuously, to encourage flexibility, to recognize staff time, to promote the network(s), and to monitor and evaluate. The analysis further revealed the need to cultivate an understanding of knowledge sharing in the organization, to create incentives for participating in networks and communities, and to support the proliferation and growth of networks and communities with human resources initiatives and appropriate technical platforms. The lessons learned and recommendations from the review have informed the recently formulated FAO Knowledge Strategy, and they will continue to be leveraged in the implementing of the strategy, and in enabling FAO as a learning organization.


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