When we started Foundations of Success a few years ago, we planned to use learning portfolios – our word for formal research networks – as our primary means of making the field of conservation more effective and efficient. To avoid overextending ourselves, in our first business plan we said: We predict having an average of five to eight portfolios at any given time…[and] we foresee a maximum of 10 portfolios – provided, of course, that there are adequate financial and human resources to manage this many. Maybe we were a bit optimistic! At the moment, we are working with one active portfolio and struggling to establish two or three others. Although this idea of a learning portfolio sounds great in theory, it has proven very difficult to implement in practice. Practicing what we preach, we realized that if we were going to be successful at this learning business, we should try to harvest what the rest of the world has learned about learning networks rather than reinvent the wheel ourselves. All this is to say that the primary audience for this paper is us – we did this research to see if we could figure out how to improve the work that we are doing. It has made us realize that if we are interested in promoting cross-practitioner learning, we do not need to immediately jump to formal learning portfolios, but could instead perhaps start with less formal types of networks. We hope that these results will be useful to you as well. This paper is a draft that we are circulating to peers for review. We welcome any comments or feedback you might have about this paper. Please send any suggestions that you might have to
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