How Donors and Leaders Can Foster Institutional Change
In this provocative paper from ODI and the Asia Foundation, Faustino and Booth argue that the evidence is clear: 1) institutions shape development outcomes, and 2) institutional reform involves power and politics.
It is not just technical interventions [such as a new accelerated learning program (ALP), or a training program for teachers on a conflict-sensitive curriculum] that assure sustained access, safety and learning. Rather, we should learn from the private sector, where sustained social reforms are nurtured by starting small, and learning with smart feedback loops. There is a rich and growing literature about the importance of managing development in conflict-affected environments using adaptive programming and feedback loops. Faustino and Booth, drawing from extensive research in the field, and providing an excellent set of references and tools, summarize what smart managers do in these contexts:
- Use the logic that allows goals to emerge from the varied imagination and diverse aspirations of local committed leaders and the people you work with.
- Use monitoring for iterative learning: choosing "measures that matter". These measures tell you, and your stakeholders and partners, how well you are moving towards meaningful outcomes.
- Learn by doing: start small, evolve from ‘educated guesses' about what will work well based on feedback from measures that matter; use ‘failed attempts' as opportunities to learn and improve.
- Evolve your theory of change based on this feedback. Drop what isn't working; seek creative ways forward: "Successful interventions develop a series of time and context specific theories of change."