The Dgroups membership met last week in Rome during the Rome 2011 Share Fair for the 2011 Partners meeting. This was the first face to face meeting of the Dgroups partners since 2009, when we met in The Hague just after the Foundation was created and the migration of the platform to WA-Research was completed.
The meeting was well attended, with half of the Dgroups partners participating and actively engaging in the discussion on Dgroups present, its value and concrete plans for future activity and development.
In the first part of the meeting, Hapee de Groot and Rob Witte from the Dgroups Board reported on 2010 activities and finances. In the discussion that followed, Dgroups partners addressed the issue of how to enlarge the membership and market Dgroups amongst development organisations. Dgroups remains a unique initiative in development cooperation, partly because it is email based and so is suitable for those still numerous areas where Internet access is expensive and unreliable, but partly because we are independent and so not subject to the same regulations and constraints as Google and other commercial platforms based in the US. These factors, together with the current site redesign and the budget available for further technical development, will definitely help promoting Dgroups in the months to come.
As part of the business meeting, Dgroups members also agreed to enlarge the Board to 6 members and confirmed the nomination of 3 new Board members . This was also the chance to thank outgoing Board members Riff Fullan (Helvetas) and Maarten Boers (who stepped down last April) for serving as Board members in the first elected Board of the Dgroups Foundation and for their great contributions.
In the second part of the meeting Dgroups members had the opportunity to meet with Damir Simunic of WA-Researchto discuss updates and plans related to the Dgroups platform. The site redesign is almost complete and some existing groups have been already migrated to the new version. There are still some bugs currently being fixed and some more groups will be migrated in the next month to further assess if the platform is robust enough to proceed with the full migration. On the basis of the feedback and information received, the Board will decide on a date when the complete migration can be started.
In the last part of the meeting, Dgroups partners looked into Dgroups futures. The session was designed to combine and adapt two facilitation methodologies – appreciative enquiry and ‘future backwards’. In two groups, participants listed Dgroups assets, then they shared and combined them. From this basis, the two groups defined a ‘nightmare’ and a ‘dream’ scenario for Dgroups 2 years from now. Finally, they described the steps that lead to each scenario and reflected on what can be done to influence the path – focusing on immediate, medium and longer term actions.
The complete report of the meeting is currently being drafted and will be circulated to members soon in the coming days.