Friday, December 10, 2010

Update: Building Awareness with the Donor Community

After the recent Washington DC meeting (Committee chairs and ISPI staff) and the new widely trumpeted donor focus on "results", I think it is clear that the aid/development world knows about 'performance management' now, and so 2 things are vital:

1. Perf Mgmt MEANS something, it is not just something anyone can do. In fact, it is pretty high level, in terms of delivering effective PI. Most people in development have such a low knowledge of what is required in training that it is such a loose term to describe someone getting up and saying something. And since the term is so loose and does not relate to any criteria or any evaluation (beyond happy sheets), anyone can do it.

Again, for fear of being a broken record: ISPI has got to let people know that there is a science, technology, and mastery of PI, perf mgmt, organizational systems, etc. AND WE ARE (one of) the key professions who do this work.

2. And we have to make it easy and palatable to digest.

SO my recommendations to proceed are really pretty basic:

a. Keep expanding the donor contact list (being developed by Klaus and team) of agency activists and policy makers. KEEP ON ADDING TO AND EDITING this.

b. Make a donor oriented ISPI blog (or transform the IDEAS blog) where we write KEY, SHORT easy to understand and relatively easy to manage VALUE ADDED approaches using PI

c. Figure some sort of distribution, either through email, blog, etc. I hesitate to send emails. I would prefer a blog, linked to some kind of social media - perhaps LinkedIn. But the key people -- how old are they? What info source do they prefer?

d. Most of these articles should be "proofs" or statements of effectiveness. By that I mean, primarily research or statement of the science linked to technology linked to success stories. I hate the fact that people manage by anecdote, but they do, and success stories work. But we have to be careful to make sure we ALWAYS have a systemic comment. Because anyone can write up their project as being successful. In the development context a huge percentage of projects actually undermine the performance system by being contradictory to another effort in a different (but linked) sector.

e. Short presentations with a ZING, and time for questions and answers...ideally discussion!

  --BASIC benefits of PI

  --BASIC success in education, military, govt, etc

  --BASIC recognition that development is different and     application must be adapted to context

  --BASIC explanation of the architecture of PI -- scalable, reformats the inertia/processes

It will be useful to video these and post them as podcasts as well.

f. presentations are resource consuming. They should be selective, with those few people who have some authority and interest. We can do some "by invitation". We can use all ISPI connections and get military and diplomats and development AND practitioners in the room, together and separately. We have to explain clearly that this can be applied at the project and program level -- and the related procurement issues need to be addressed and funded AND

that it is applicable at the --

  -- mega/cultural
  -- polity
  -- strategic
  -- tactical levels

PI can work WITH technical content and with process and with organizational readiness and removing blockages to adoption and sustainability..

again, most of the people with some experience know what is wrong. They even know what is required to fix it. They don't have the skills or the will, or the OK from HQ.

Even worse, there are so many myths and sacred cows that often it is not a rational, science-based discussion. It is 'treading on holy ground'.

EVERYONE is talking about improving aid effectiveness!

NOW, who and when --

  • Our committee and Board of Directors need to be able to present our message to these audiences
  • I think we do focus on USAID and if we are able - go to Vienna's HQ for the UN and OSCE for starters
  • We figure out about focusing our blog and getting the 'marketing of it' to the right people
  • Figure out how to remind them to use it (social network?)
  • Hone these presentation for this audience, FOR THESE AUDIENCES and talk ALL THEIR TALK (not ours).

It takes time and energy. We have to decide how to allocate valuable volunteer energies.

M. Mari Novak

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