FAB tree frog

The Client and Their Challenge

USAID’s Forestry and Biodiversity office (FAB) came to us with a new strategic plan approved by Congress. In order to implement it, they needed a clear understanding of their knowledge management and communications capacity, challenges and opportunities, and a plan that aligned with the government’s global strategic plan for biodiversity. Some of their initial needs centered around:

• Improving communications and information flows within the FAB office and its globally located missions and partners
• Engaging with project implementers to boost biodiversity programs
• Strengthening commitments to biodiversity conservation from policy-makers to improve health and welfare worldwide
• Positioning FAB as a global hub of biodiversity expertise, experience and resources

Having a clear, well-informed plan that supported efficient and participatory information exchange was critical.

Research and Learning Approach

After an initial conversation, we realized that our research would require a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. Staff was located literally around the world, and we needed to map information flows, understand priorities and roadblocks, and also understand communications must-haves and “if-onlys.” Since staff was already submerged with emails and requests, we needed to make the research design efficient. It needed to be participatory rather than just gathering information to produce a final report. We took a three-pronged approach:

  1. Document and Information System Review and Analysis
  2. One-on-one Interviews with Key Stakeholders
  3. Focus Groups

Findings and Recommendations

We conducted a literature review, mapped information flows, analyzed FAB’s social media presence and then presented a report on our preliminary findings in a highly interactive session. In addition to sharing our findings, we asked essential questions like What is communications? and What does knowledge management mean? We created this opportunity for stakeholders to share what they were excited about but also to share their frustrations with current knowledge management and communications within FAB. The exchange allowed us to validate our preliminary findings plus identify and fill in gaps as needed. Afterwards, we realized there was a bit more research to do and followed up with additional interviews and a focus group with partners to ensure we understood FAB’s goals as well as any practical and cultural barriers that might block implementation of the new communications strategy and plan. These cumulative findings led us to create a set of recommendations relating to infrastructure, process improvements and engagement.

  • Communications Assessment
  • Communications Planning
  • Communications Training
  • Knowledge Management
  • Workshop Facilitation
  • Agriculture / Environment
  • Strategy
FAB Case Study Ensemble Media Strategy

Some of these recommendations included using internal champions to spread the word about FAB, using multi-channel storytelling for best practices and fostering dialogue around biodiversity within the development community. We produced several tools as a result of our research:

  1. Knowledge Management Assessment Report: We identified how fostering a culture of sharing and repurposing ideas would serve FAB’s objectives and enhance communications, both internally and externally. This report included detailed workflow analysis along with recommendations for improvement.
  2. Communications Assessment and Strategy: Our research for this report helped validate initial findings and raised new questions around priorities and resources. The report also included a comprehensive communications audit and policy analysis.
  3. Illustrative Communications Plan: We created a comprehensive 1-5 year plan.
  4. Website recommendations: Our recommendations included a breakdown and pictograph of their current website architecture as well as proposed layouts and content to upgrade the site.
Ensemble Media Strategy
Ensemble Media Strategy2

Impact

FAB used our findings and recommendations to foster a culture of information sharing between staff, stakeholders, and beyond to amplify the voice of their causes to the ranks of congress and policy-makers. Ultimately, our recommendations helped FAB advance their missions of biodiversity conservation and solidify their role as a global hub for biodiversity expertise.

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