Author: Stacey Young
Full Citation: Young, S. (2013). USAID program cycle learning guide and CLA introduction. Washington, D.C: USAID Learning Lab.
Overview: Stacey Young, a Senior Advisor with USAID’s Collaborative Learning and Adaption (CLA) initiative in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) notes that development interventions often fail by replicating designs from other countries or contexts [‘isomorphic mimicry’], thereby blocking the opportunity to exchange perspectives and knowledge among local stakeholders, and by lack of attention to the social dynamics of the specific context. This occurs because designers and implementers are “tied to static strategies and implementation plans that are fixed at the design stage,”, and define success in terms of staying the course, governed by inflexible contractual and funding mechanisms. To address this issue, the PPL Bureau has initiated an interactive Learning Guide, to operationalize the CLA approach for USAID development projects. Emphasizing iterative adaptive management within the structure of the USAID Program Cycle, Young believes that CLA approach could change the way USAID does development, and thereby become more effective, produce greater impacts and be more sustainable. The CLA initiative provides an interactive guide, case studies, and a web site with resources and tools.