March 2009 Archives

Make Web 2.0 work.

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You may have noticed that I have a particular interest in technology that can make CISV work better. We are an international organization with very limited resources for face-to-face meetings or phone-calls, so most of our communication is electronic. E-mail has become our standard way of communicating, but has its limits:

- the sheer amount of e-mails coming in daily makes it difficult to distinguish between more and less important information
- once in the inbox it's not always easy to find information again
- some ways of collaboration such as drafting a document via e-mail is annoying.


What is commonly perceived as Web 2.0 offers a range of opportunities to improve the way CISV works:

- Google Docs and other providers offer easy ways of sharing and updating documents
- Microsoft Sharepoint is CISVs intranet of choice and contains all kinds of communication tools.
- Wiki software lets anybody contribute information
- Blogging software lets anybody (like me) create a virtual "megaphone" to the CISV world
- Facebook helps managing CISV networks.

The list could go on and on.

Now, the real question is, how can CISV "capitalize" these tools in order to become a better working organization? Just recently McKinsey, a consultant agency, published a report on how to make Web 2.0 work for organisations. I strongly suggest reading the document, which you can download here:


In the report they list 6 ways, some of which I found very interesting:

- Web 2.0 is not just bottom-up: Often understood as a grassroots concept, the best results are achieved, if there is support from the top.
- Integrate Web 2.0 into the regular work flow instead of making it a parallel structure.
- Encouraging and rewarding contributors yields good results.

Up to here this post has been very theoretic, so let me spice it up with some more practical suggestions:

- Let's turn our guides into websites with moderated comments. Anybody can search, annotate and discuss the way we run camps on a website. The respective committee monitors the discussion and implements suggestions into the next official version of the guide.
- Let's create a Wikipedia for CISV activities. Some icebreakers can already be found in JBpedia and I know that Arno (GER) already created something called "Actipedia". Also there is the official Activity Database, which is very hard to use. I think this project needs a collaborative effort anew to become a really useful tool.
- Let's create an interactive "camp managment application": Once a chapter decides to host a camp, it logs on to a specific website and registers this camp. The website (or -service) then automatically walks the chapter board and staff through the process of planning, running and evaluating the camp. Reminders and checklists are automatically created. Feedback can be given all along the way by anyone involved in the process. If this application is useful and widely adopted, it could even be used to monitor progress by the IO or international committees.

With some more brainstorming you could probably come up with more ideas on how to make Web 2.0 work better for CISV. I do think that we are already pretty o.k. at adopting new technology - yet there's room for improvement.

What a surprise...

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I found a copy of "Mosquito Tactics" in my mailbox today! Thanks, Adam. 

Financial Crisis II.

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In an earlier post I suggested, that CISV would be hit by the global financial crisis.

This upcoming weekend representatives of all German chapters will meet in the CISV house in Hamburg to discuss how to reduce their national budget. Two chapters have suggested a list of measures that involve almost all areas of the organisation from national meetings through AIM participation to leadership training.

It's a common problem in any non- or for-profit organization when expenditures keep rising, but the income fails to cover. In CISV there are usually two solutions to this problem: Raise the fees or cut the costs. Usually somebody says, that the only costs that can be reduced are those of innovative projects, because we can't cut administration or fixed costs. Then  somebody says, that CISV is still pretty cheap compared to other exchange organizations. At the end of the day, fees are increased.

Let's see how CISV Germany deals with this.

AIM top scorer.

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Looking into this document, it is interesting to see, which countries are the top AIM hosts in CISV's history:

Sweden 5
England 4
Germany 3
Austria 3
Norway 3
Denmark 3
Netherlands 3
Canada 3
Belgium 2
France 2
Mexico 2
Italy 2
Finland 2
Brazil 2
Romania 1
Philippines 1
Japan 1
Turkey 1
Australia 1
Costa Rica 1
Israel 1
Thailand 1
Colombia 1

Congratulations to Sweden for being the one and only 5-times host. Remarkable is Romania's hosting in 1975 - I guess it was before the hard-core-cold-war-Reagan-era! Also interesting is that there the number of hostings is somewhat proportional to the size of these NAs today. Exceptions: England (many more AIMs compared to its strength today) and Brazil/Italy (only two AIMs for such strong NAs!). It's nice to see that in recent years a whole bunch of NAs hosted AIM for the first time, if you look at the bottom of the list. It seems as if CISV is spreading, and the NAs strong enough to organize such a big conference is increasing.

Mosquito tactics.

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mosquitotacticsbook.pngRodolfo is a Costa Rican CISVer who is currently the vice-president of CISV Sweden. His master thesis on CISVs educational approach was just recently turned into a book called Mosquito Tactics, published in Swedish and English.

"If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room."

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. More on the book can be found on this wonderful website including some sample pages.

More on the content and purpose and how it all fits together with CISV's educational content can be found on CISV Swedens website.

PS. For a long time I've been trying to find a new name for CISV: The acronym is boring, hard to pronounce, and doesn't even stand for what we do. 6 years ago I suggested Mosaic as a new name to a few friends - later Local Work adopted that one. How about "Mosquitos International" as the new name for CISV?

IJR candidates.

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A few days ago I received the questionnaires from the three IJR candidates Juanma (COL), Rou (EGY) and Alex (CAN). I was quite impressed by the inspiration, reflection and creativity that could be found in those questionaires.

Many years ago, Chris (GER) and Gian (BRA), two IJRs in 1995, had a bet, which of their countries would be first to have three more IJRs. With Peer-Ole and Marcos it's 1:1 in 2009, and none of these two big CISV countries even has a candidate. Setting Canada aside, with Colombia and Egypt it's two "emerging NAs" that are more prominent in IJB these days.

Being a statistics nerd, I was interested which NA sent the most IJR candidates in the past. Unfortunately I could only rely on the shaky JBpedia data (I hope some old-time JBer will amend it someday), but here you go:


A few things are interesting:

- Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina are all Latin American countries with small-to-medium sized NAs, but a history of 3 IJR candidates.
- Sweden has a record of 4 IJR candidates, but there has never been a Swedish IJR. They obviously need an Obama campaign management!
- Germany apparently fullfills the stereotype of being efficient: Three candidates, three IJRs.

So, if you want to be an IJR better run against a Swede than a German...

Update: Digging into old IJR-letters, I found three more IJR-candidates from 1994 and 1995 from Iceland, Australia and Canada. Unfortunately I deleted the spreadsheet already, so I can't update the graph. But this doesn't really change too many things, except for Canada being the no1 IJR candidate country.

Update 2: Here's a more accurate graphic that also represents the ratio between elected and non-elected:

EEC update.

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EEC update is a new communication tool that is editedby Junko (vice-president) and Gaby (IO). Just a few weeks ago the second isse was published, you can download it here:


This issue gives a nice summary of recent achievements regarding the 5-year strategic plan that was developed in 2004. It also presents the three areas that are currently being discussed as priorities for 2010-2012:
Evaluation of Education and  Training
-- Review our evaluation procedures.  Analyse and  implement the results of evaluation to make CISV content and methods  of education and training clear and credible for CISVers and for external audiences

Organizational development -- Provide the supports to ensure the health and development of every CISV chapter.

Raising Profile (to bring in more participants, volunteers, donors and other supporter) -- Make PR, marketing, fundraising and cooperation with LMOs an integral part of planning and management at every level of CISV.

In my eyes these goals are very general. Almost anything we do can be summarized under these headlines. But as always, the Devil is in the details, so judgment will have to wait until the strategic plan gets more specific.

CISV 101 - in a video...

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Recently I've seen several sites that offer software or services that explain what they do in a short introductory video on the first or about page of their website. Here's a few examples that I like:

Creative Commons


Now, how many times have you wondered how to explain what CISV is to a friend? How much more difficult is it, if you have somebody surfing the internet with a short attention span and only one means of communication (i.e. text to read) available?

Here's my suggestion: Let's have short videos on the CISV website that explain what CISV is, what a village is, what our educational goals are, and so on. I believe that would enormously help people understand what CISV does.

Editorial Note.

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I just created a Facebook group for FTB. I'm not sure that will be good for anything, because I'd prefer people discussing stuff right here and not starting another thread over at Facebook. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try. These days everybody runs everything through Facebook, so maybe that'll drive a few more people to this website. We'll see...

From Infoletter to Thinks!

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Maru just published the latest version of IJB Thinks! (download it here. login: ijb.guest password: cisv4all)

It is interesting how the IJRs main publication has shifted in the last ten years: When I first an NJR, it was called "IJR-infoletter" and completely authored by the IJRs. Mostly in contained anouncements, and reports of recent conferences and developments. On the last page was the famous "Hello from Germany/Austria/Sweden/..." section, where NJRs could write about stuff like their recent minicamps with 20 or so kids.

At some point in the recent years, the IJRs stepped back to being the editors, and articles where mostly written by other juniors, however the topics where still closely CISV-related. Anoucnements and information was limited to small info-boxes. Now, this issue turns the old IJR-infoletter upside down: The medium has turned from a communication tool to a magazine - a philosophical essay collection - that only losely connects to CISVs day-to-day business.

My guess is, that there are now better, and more useful communication channels than an infoltter - in fact it never made sense to bundle information in a single PDF-document (like the IO update still does), when it could be sent out direct by e-mail. Also, IJB-Thinks probably reflects a trend to a more thorough approach to what CISV id doing, digging deeper into its philosophy.  The next, most logic step, would be to merge IJB Thinks! with Interspectives. Or will future IJRs turn the clock backwards?
I'm not yet sure, whether site of horror will become a permanent series - in fact I do hope that CISV websites will become more attractive and useful in the future - but this one just had to be mentioned:


I've been long enough in CISV to remember that a guy called Jonathan from Denmark (who apparently has some resemblance to Ken from Barbie&Ken, at least that is what some Brazilian girls on a bus in Rio de Janeiro claimed in 1999) was the one who managed to make the CISV logo even uglier than it already was by adding a blue bubbley pattern - now isn't it amazing that this logo survived until today?
Maybe it's a consequent move to cover up that ole logo with a bandage in the top-right corner - that is actually a link that leads to another unrelated NGO site...
Good thing ist, that the website shows everybody how much up-to-date it is - the latest news from IPP is from January 2006. But if you're still in doubt, that there are real people in charge of this website, just click on the chapter "Hull and East Riding".

I agree that it's pretty obnoxious to point out all these details, but hey - CISV international provides a design, a content managment system and even individual support - so it shouldn't be to difficult to get a natiional website up to date. least CISV GB's website has a bit of individuality - take a look at these here...

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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