Thinking While Doing: What We’ve Been Reading, Round II

Because we read quite a few interesting articles, books, and reports while going about our work, we thought it would be nice and potentially helpful to share now and again. In the last few weeks, many members of the GKI team have spent substantial time poring over research on dynamics of successful teams, how design thinking can be used in development, and other areas that inform our capacity building programs. Here are just a few of the highlights: Article: McNeil, D. Jr. (April 22, 2013). “Another Scourge in his sights.” The New York Times.  Why we liked it: “This is an interesting profile on Dr. Donald Hopkins, a man who has led the effort to eradicate Guinea worm.  The eradication effort takes coordination on many levels and Dr. Hopkins is noted as being a great builder of networks of health workers, local stakeholders, and governments.” – Courtney O’Brien, Program Officer Book: Carleton, T., Cockayne, W., and Tahvanainen, A. (2013). Playbook for Strategic Foresight and Innovation. Tekes & Lappeenranta University of Technology. Available at: http://foresight.stanford.edu/ Why we liked it: “It really is super simple to use, beautifully done, and quite comprehensive.  It should be a primer for anyone asking what kind of foresight tools could offer some value for specific strategic exercises.” – Sara Farley, Chief Operating Officer Article: Siebdrad, F., Hoegl, M., and Ernst, H. (2009). “How to Manage Virtual Teams.” MIT Sloan Management Review. 50:4. 62-68.  Why we liked it: “Many of the articles I read on network management and metrics are very technical. This one, however, is both robust and accessible. It also validates what we have seen throughout our work: Networks need strong organization and management, and the people who work in them need the training to do so effectively.” – Andrew Gerard, Program Officer Podcast: National Public Radio. (April 9, 2013). “Bitcoin Goes to the Moon.” Planet Money. Why we liked it: “The past month has been a tumultuous one for the online currency Bitcoin—a major […]

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Sara Farley Deconstructs Network Difficulties at AAAS Annual Meeting

Every year, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, thousands of scientists, researchers, and policymakers gather to discuss the year’s most exciting, challenging, and relevant developments. This year, at the Boston event (held February 14-18)  GKI Chief Operating Officer Sara Farley joined an intriguingly-named panel titled “A Tale of Two Networks: Connecting the African Drylands, Rio de Janeiro, and Women.” Sara offered insight on GKI’s research on distributed networks working to solve challenges and our own experience forging networks spread across East Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, and elsewhere.  She discussed some of the most vexing challenges in developing and managing international STI networks.  The current literature and GKI fieldwork point to a number of common challenges: competing incentives, communication breakdowns, lack of knowledge-sharing, and the difficulty of network measurement.   Sara showed how—through our on-the-ground experiences—we have wrestled with these issues. We were excited that Sara was able to present alongside notables such as Jesse Njoka, director of the Center for Sustainable Dryland Ecosystems and Societies at the University of Nairobi; Cardinal Warde, MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering and President of the Caribbean Science Foundation; and Noshir Contractor, Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University.  Dr. Contractor’s presentation on the central roles of actors within a network dovetails particularly well with GKI work in network optimization.  You can see some of his exciting (and we think very helpful) work here. Contributors: Peter Glover and Andrew Gerard […]

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