Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hot Pepper Group Norms and Agreements….
(in part adopted from Norman’s Blog)
The following rules and quidelines shall be strictly adhered to by all members of the Hot Pepper Online Network Group:
  • No SHOUTING or use of ‘improper’ language
  • Disagree amicably
  • Limit personal responses to the intended recipient only
  • Respect the persons in the community (expressed in the manner of writing)
  • Respect the role of the facilitator

The facilitator shall :

  • Role-model the above rules
  • Be rotated every three months
  • Gently remind members to keep up regular activity posts
  • Summarize posts by categories monthly
  • Prepare quartely report and post same at the end of the quarter

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Taking Stock....

Cyril Roberts

This week I will focus on where I am and where I am going. The Hot Pepper group needs a clear goal and a defined achievable set of objectives. I must also come up with a proposed set of guidelines or rules. I will also be proposing a rotating three-month online network group "Coordinatorship" among myself, Herman, Neville and Julius. The responsibilies of the Coordinator will need to be clearly spelt out.

It is not clear to me at this moment where to house the group - CARDI or Dgroups? I am leaning towards Dgroups because of better tools, but ultimately I want a site with an impressive opening page (even if it means we have to pay to have it prepared). Security is a concern though as I was surfing recently (looking for Cyril Roberts) and ended up in a place (my blog) that allowed me to make changes that shouldn't have been allowed. Anyway, I will give these some more thought and return to the matter later today. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Size and an effective online hot pepper group

The CARDI Hot Pepper Group currently comprises six members:…..Cyril, Herman, Dione, Julius and Neville, with Bruce on the fringe. I can see expanding it to include Litta, Greg, Ronnie, Pathleen Llewellyn and Reggie (the market/business personel of Maurice and Ardon should also be included) as they are all CARDI professionals who will be engaged in hot pepper “activities” over the coming year. Maybe at a later date, selected farmers, processors and national Ministry of Agriculture scientists who actively collaborate with CARDI in executing the hot pepper program can be invited to participate in the online network.

At present the core group members (first five) communicate regularly when needed on an ad hoc basis – email or telephone and it can be argued that this is working. Making the “network” function effectively will be an improvement on the current arrangement in that apart from accomodating expansion of members, I feel it also offers a forum for the posting:
  • Medium term plan for the CARDI hot pepper program.
  • National activities planned for the year.
  • A place for all to see how the national programs are unfolding at intervals during the year.
  • An opportunity for the sharing of challenges and solutions to national issues impacting on programs.
  • A chance upon evaluation to modify targets and goals such the regional program can better impact in national jurisdictions.
  • An opportunity to identify and prepare project proposals of optimal relevance to the hot pepper industry of the Caribbean for donor funding.
  • A place where managers at CARDI head office can obtain at a glance a synopsis of what is going on in the region re hot pepper.

With a redoubling of efforts these can all be achieved. We will no doubt be stymied by limited funds to acquire human, equipment and input material resources, however, maybe better utilization of current limited resources can be realized because of the network. It would therefore seem that “size” in this instance is not as limiting a factor as money (available to the program) and time (which the busy scientists never seem to have enough of). At the end of the day, the online group will work regardless of size when individual members are being directly positivly impacted as a result of their online participation.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

AgroFest 2006 (Feb 24-26)

AgroFest 2006 was recently held in Barbados. With the theme "Agriculture for life" the exhibition sought to sensitize Barbadians about the value of the agricultural industry to the island's economy. CARDI was of course a key participant in this year's show. The picture above shows Mr. Kevin Cumberbatch, one our CARDI Barbados's recently recruited hot pepper field support staff members enthusiastically talking to a family visiting the CARDI booth about in vitro "tissue culture plantlets"! This field technician certainly has their rapt attention on laboratory issue. Now if I could just light such a fire in the hot pepper network group.....won't that be something? Posted by Picasa
Caribbean hot peppers

CARDI has developed a number of hot pepper cultivars for farmers of the region. These varieties are generally very pungent and aromatic. The fresh product command premium prices on the international (US, Canada, Europe) market while Caribbean processors also clamour for it to manufacture hot sauces. The picture shows some of these varieties on display by CARDI Barbados at the recent AgroFest 2006 held at the Queen's Park, Bridgetown, Barbados from Feb. 24th - 26th. Posted by Picasa

Facilitating/coordinating the “new” network

"New" because this workshop has given me some insights re how to invigorate our group.

A big challenge is going to be “how to get others to help in running the group”. It presents a challenge because it is easier for some to “run the whole thing” instead of "assisting" in the responsibility. The attitude that "it is your job so you do it" tend to let too many off the hook – at least in their heads. We thus end up with too many persons just sitting back and being unnecessarily critical. I think I will convince the group via our guidelines and rules (thanks Nancy) that particular individuals will have responsibility for particular areas…..

  • say one persons responsible for pictures (ensuring that there is a collection of pictures that tell the whole story on an issue; even it means requesting clarifying ones from the sender or wider group
  • another person can similarly assist in maintaining documents
  • someone can be responsible for details like scheduling, reminders of upcoming events and soliciting news/updates on current/recent events

All in all, with pictures, files and sound all available to the network online experience, re-invigorating the group seems an exciting prospect. This will be even easier once we can plan for face to face meetings at least biennially in rotating locations (countries). Who knows non-CARDI sponsorship of this can make it an annual occurrence. Maybe members can come together as part of their holiday prior to carnival or annual vacation, then some or all of us can go "chill" out afterwards!

Personal Skills

Strengths :

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Willingness to ask questions to clarify topics
  • Comes across as approachable and easy to get along with
  • Keeping discussion thread on track
  • Patient listener
  • Reasonable ability to gauge personalities and adjust my style to accommodate others

Areas to be worked on:

  • Can be too cynical at times
  • Tends to get carried away re expectations
  • Sometimes compromises too much for the sake of the group but to my personal detriment
  • Attention to detail
  • Greater discipline to stick “to the plan/program”

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Purpose Checklist…..

Purpose/outcome: Coordination of Hot Pepper group in CARDI

Vision: To have an active networking of members towards a coordinated and efficiently executed regional hot pepper program.
Measurable benefits: dynamic interaction as measured by many postings.
Outcome: I will hope that the members and I see a more focused and impacting regional pepper program as a result of regular updates on national activities, challenges and results.
Operation: the network will primarily be an online one but I would strongly recommend annual F2F meeting in rotating locations.

Target audience
Primarily CARDI scientists involved in hot pepper research and CARDI senior management. The group members are all dedicated overworked and under-resourced professionals. Motivation varies but once it becomes clear that by sharing what each is doing, and seeing how the pieces fit together re the regional program, then one anticipates willing participation as strengths of others (regional) can be drawn on to enhance one’s work (national).

Computer equipment and internet access will not be a handicap.

Type of member interactions
These will be e-discussions to keep everyone abreast of what activities are ongoing.
By posting results regularly, a quarterly report from a regional perspective of the hot pepper program will be produced on the site.
This will allow adjustments and refocusing of the work program if necessary by group members.

Time frame
The network is currently in place but needs to be made more dynamic. Using the tools of this workgroup will facilitate this.

Guidelines, rules and governance
Any member of the CARDI Hot Pepper team can freely post.
There will be no censoring by any one individual.
This workshop has however sensitized me regarding the importance of guidelines and rules thus I would therefore propose that such be suggested with members having the final say regarding what is adopted.

Who makes decisions?
As far as possible decisions will be arrived at by consensus, however when necessary the coordinator will have the final say.

Who will host?
Given that the proposal here is for CARDI work programs, along with the reporting of activities and results in support of CARDI role in CARICOM agriculture then a CARDI server would be ideal. An alternative could be dgroups assuming CARDI senior management is in support.

The group will be facilitated by coordinator. At this time there is no special compensation for this role, however given the training received in this workshop and the “tools” made available there will be an improvement in executing the function.

Senior management at CARDI headquarters will be encouraged to monitor and use the information available from the network.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Approaching end of Week 1

It is almost one week since I started this workshop.... rather reluctantly. Given the pressures of this month and last month, plus my current mental state of "load-out", I just knew that there was no way to fit it into my schedule. I must admit however that I have found the material informative and feel that it will be useful. In a way it is funny, in that as a participant one can get caught up and carried away and put in a few hours on the trot without realizing it, looking forward to the next day, only to completely miss that day, then having to rush and make up the day after! Nonetheless, once I put together a worthy goal, along with some tentative objectives and guidelines for the CARDI Hot Pepper group, then I would have achieved my personal goals for this week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My goal for this first week of the Online Network Workshop is get a solid grasp of the fundamentals on establishing a work group in terms of goals, objectives and guidelines for the group and appreciating how to effectively facilitate the group so that members participate in a dynamic manner.