Following up our first blog on adaptive management and emergent theories of change for Goal 3 activities, we are highlighting Melissa Patsalides’ (Acting Deputy Director for USAID’s Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research) recent update on innovative policy and guidance developments in the Agency.
“Adaptive management is something many USAID staff and implementing partners have intuitively felt the need for, and sometimes implemented in spite of apparent bureaucratic constraints, for several years now.
The Agency is increasingly working in countries that are unstable and in transition. And even in more stable environments, we cannot always reliably predict how events or circumstances will evolve and impact our programs. As a result, USAID’s traditional management approach, which assumes that we can foresee, with some certainty, how a country or sector will change over time, is inadequate.
We are giving much thought to how adaptive management can support the Agency’s work to achieve more effective development results. It will require strategic plans and project designs as well as procurement processes and budgets that facilitate adaptability. All of this is needed to enable us to respond to new and changing circumstances to get the best results.
A central focus of the upcoming revised ADS guidance on the Program Cycle is adaptive management. Through PPL’s extensive engagement across the Agency to identify how we should change the policy, staff shared issues that hampered their ability to incorporate adaptive management, and discussed ways to address them in the new guidance.”
Melissa identifies key institutional issues that are being addressed in new Agency guidance including procurement mechanisms, engaging with contracting officers, use of monitoring and evaluation to prioritize learning and adaptation, rather than accountability.
USAID ECCN is working to provide resources, guidance and tools to support adaptive management and an emergent theory of change for education in crisis and conflict environments, and we seek your collaboration in developing and sharing these resources over the coming months.
Melissa challenged USAID staff and implementing partners with the following question:
What have you learned from experiences with adaptive management that could benefit others at USAID and our partnerships as we increasingly use that approach?
What is your response to this innovative guidance? PLEASE share your own ideas and related links, research, cases and evaluations that exemplify how adaptive management and an emergent theory of change can work for education programming in crisis and conflict.
A wonderful and joyful holiday season to our USAID-ECCN colleagues. May you enjoy these innovative nuggets from recent developments at USAID.