Monday, 3 March 2008

Inspiring meetings about Learning, Capacity Development and the Programmatic Approach

The past week I have been in Lima, Peru having several meetings with partner organisations. The main issue was learning, capacity development and the programmatic approach. These meetings led to some thoughts, perhaps not all new, but nevertheless I would like to share and discuss them. That’s why I am posting them on our learning blog.
  • Implementing the programmatic approach implies talking about “programme development” (in the same way as we prefer to talk about “capacity development” in stead of building). Hereby I mean that it will probably not be feasible to “define” a programme because it never will be finished or ready. The ever and rapidly changing (world wide) context means that all involved in a programme will have to adapt their ideas and practices constantly to be able to respond to these changes and getting the programme further. In that sense perhaps it is good to speak and think about “programme development”. In that way we also avoid talking about building something new. In many cases - at least elements of - a programmatic approach is already being applied and the “only” thing which has to be done is develop these elements further.
  • While within ICCO we all are very busy thinking on how to concretise programmes with our allies in the South we might tend to forget to follow our own thinking and doing in this process. At the same time this first phase is essential and we should put an effort in it, to learn about what and how we are doing. So we should add a “monitoring” system to this aspect of the process as soon as possible. I am not referring to something like a formal or usual monitoring system, but a system which helps us to remember why we did what, with whom and based on which assumptions. Only in that way we can learn from it and become able to improve our actions in the future.
  • The question however is how to implement such a monitoring system as it has to be very flexible and truly reflecting what is happening. I mean that it should not only show the “reality” as it is interpreted by us as staff of ICCO-HQ, but also from the perspective of the ones with whom we are developing these programmes. So we will need more and different “eyes” and “ears”.
  • But these eyes and ears should have a same (or at least very similar) vision on what and how we as ICCO-Alliance want to achieve with the the programmatic approach. So where and how do we find them?
  • We also need to develop a common language with all involved in this process of explicitly implementing the programmatic approach, so we are sure that we have a same or very similar interpretation about all these (new or old) concepts we are talking about. Even if we do not all agree, we need to know on what we do, or do not agree. I am quite sure this is not the case yet.
  • The reason for implementing an explicit programmatic approach should have little or nothing to do with doing new things, or doing different things or things different. It has all to do with adapting our doing and our (institutional) being to new circumstances and – not to forget - making maximum use of the experience of all involved, be they existing or new partners or otherwise experienced parties.
Of course there is much more to say after a week long of inspiring meetings. But I just want to leave it at this point for the moment. If you have any remarks, questions or whatever reaction, please leave a comment.


Manuel Chiriboga said...

Motivating reflections. Just two comments:

a. The issue of common language relating to common understandings requieres also to look at motivation of actors involved. If this is not clear discussion is difficult
b. Please consider the different loops involved: the poor and their organizations, the NGOs and their processes, the networks where learning happens, and ICCO and its approach.

eduardo said...

Dear Maarten I think that your work in Peru was very interesting. In particular your participation in Chorlavi group was very useful for us. We are very motive in order to promote a new internet systems, for example wikies.