Ongoing learning and adaptation is a team sport. Varied stakeholders need to cooperate, from the funders who provide resources to the research teams who help crystallise insight to the implementers who know the frontline realities. For learning to happen, unite these stakeholders. All must buy into the value of feedback and learning, and all must work together to make it happen.
Convene the stakeholders who need to work together to gather, analyse, and act on feedback. This is likely to include implementers, senior leaders, donors, and Monitoring and Evaluation teams. Gain consensus for gathering and acting on feedback. Plan how you will work together. Create streamlined decision-making processes for acting on feedback.
To help you get started, consider these questions:
- Who needs to be involved in defining what we want to learn, gathering data, and approving any changes to the program?
- Who needs to be involved in decisions about various aspects of program, and what evidence do they require?
Consider including these stakeholders:
Implementers/program designers with responsibility for program design and implementation. This may include both theorists who designed the original program and on-the-ground implementers. Roles could be: on-the-ground source of intelligence, primary role in spotting opportunities for improvement, leader in implementing improvements.
Monitoring & Evaluation(M&E)/Insight source. This need not be an M&E specialist (in fact, there may be no M&E specialists in smaller organisations), but it needs to be someone who can access or generate data/insight about program performance. Role could be: providing the responsive feedback that makes continuous improvement possible.
Senior leaders who can approve responsive feedback as a priority and allocate time & budget. Roles could be: sanctioning use of resources, supporting improvements.
Funders who will want to be part of program reviews or changes to program design. Roles could be: sanctioning use of resources, being available to make agile decisions alongside implementers. .Consider these ingredients of success. If they are not in place, could we do anything to bring them about?
Consider these ingredients of success. If they are not in place, could we do anything to bring them about?
- Is there a trusting relationship with funders or other major stakeholders such that frank discussion is possible?
- Is realising a need to change seen as progress, not failure?
- Does organisational inertia or rigidity make change difficult?
- Does our leadership support our learning approach?
- Is there a willingness to delegate decision-making authority closer to the frontlines where possible?
At the end of this step you should have:
- A stakeholder engagement plan: both internal and external to include roles and responsibilities
- A decision making process