Sustainable Investments into Research and Innovation for Health

Colloquium 2013FWB Facilitators Mark Vandael, Ilse Nuytemans, and Marcel Stolk travelled from Belgium and the Netherlands to Geneva, Switzerland last month to assist the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) with their Colloquium on sustainable investments into research and innovation for health.

In a letter received after the Colloquium, COHRED Executive Director Carl Usselmuiden and contacts Danny Edwards and Laurence Verhagen said, “We believe the Colloquium was a success: initial feedback received was that provided a well-­organised, needed place for those constituents with an interest in improving and increasing investments in research and innovation for health to voice their ideas, concerns, successes and lessons. Your involvement was critical in helping to ensure that the content of the two days was lively and meaningful.”

After the previous successes of the FWB team in Cape Town and Bellagio, COHRED looked forward to having our facilitators at the Colloquium to help them take the discussion to the next stage. Bringing together in open discussion a group of people who don’t usually meet, or do not have easy access to each other: the private sector, researchers, civil society, funders and governments, these sessions could certainly use some facilitating help from our part.


During these two days many participants showed an lively interest in our way of working, appreciating the lack of interference with the content of the discussions, thus focusing on the process only. As facilitators, we also tried to encourage people as much as we could to engage in new inspiring connections, this being one of the aimed at side effects of this international colloquium.

We were happy to receive both an informal invitation by Prof. Jaime Montoya to assist at the next forum in the Philippines next year, and a formal one from COHRED’s Director Prof. Carel Ijsselmuiden to work together at future occasions.

Boosting Research for Health in the New Arab World

COHRED Arab GroupFWB facilitator Karen Hodges was hard at work this month at the COHRED Symposium: Boosting Research for Health in the New Arab World.

The objective of the Symposium was for leading researchers from the Arab world to discuss how best to use the current opportunities to strengthen research, science and innovation for health in the region. The group met Feb 26 – March 1 at Bellagio, the exquisite villa and estate owned by the Rockefeller Foundation that lies high on a hill at the bifurcation of Lake Como in Italy.

Following a series of background presentations, FWB colleague Karen Hodges facilitated discussions using a World Cafe format, followed by random word and picture stimuli combined with the Productive Thinking EFFECT technique to identify issues, opportunities, and implementation challenges. Although the group was highly academic and politely skeptical at first about the value of such tools, the session was extremely productive. In fact, one of the delegates was so impressed with the methodology, he created a personal mnemonic to remind him of how powerful the tools were.

As Karen reports: “It was inspiring to see that by the end of this day, people had shifted from having their individual agendas into a coherent unit wanting to make a change. They were so enthusiastic and inspired by their now common goal that there was only one person seated in the whole room, while the rest were all moving around the room, sharing their ideas.”

On the final day, Karen led the group through a roadmap of the future, using the infinity symbol with desired outcomes outlined on one side and motivators and actions needed to realize it on the other, with the mission statement of the previous day in the centre. The group readily adopted the concept of Beyonders and focused on incorporating the characteristics of Vision, Courage, Perseverance, Creativity and Passion into their work. At the end of the day, the “outsiders” (donor companies, reporters, and COHRED staff) left the room and allowed the group to design and populate an action plan. As Karen reports, “We were called back and presented with their plan — discrete steps, target dates, and personal responsibilities to reach the goal. I was exhilarated and proud of what the group had achieved in so short a time.”

Handbell Guilds of Canada Ring in Change

Handbell GuildsThe Handbell Guild of Canada (HGC) has been operating as a quasi-umbrella organization and international contact for the four provincial Handbell Guilds. However as can easily happen in such situations, the terms of reference for the HGC were not well defined and communication between members was becoming strained.

The HGC called on Facilitators Without Borders to help them develop their stated purpose(s) and values along with their organizational structure. At the same time, the communications avenues between provincial guilds were to be identified and overseen by the HGC. The structural component was complicated by the diversity of the provincial guilds – an informal association of members to a nationally registered formal charitable corporation.

Because of the history of holding email or telephone conversations with a very long time between meetings, a major step in strengthening HGC was to development a level of trust among the participants and a clarification of the motives of each provincial group. This was achieved through introductory activities and through facilitation of purpose and values followed by developing the short term actions that HGC was responsible for. Guilds then came together by developing communications components and HGC normal operating procedures.

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