By Alan Hudson, Executive Director
As regular readers will know, we’ve been making the case that adaptive learning — a structured approach to learning by doing — should be central to the open governance agenda, and is central to our strategy, for more than 18 months (See for instance: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Over the last six months we’ve been working hard, not just to put adaptive learning into practice across our various programs and projects, but also to more clearly explain why we think that adaptive learning is so important, what it means in practice, and how our work supports and explores the value of adaptive learning. Our learning plan is the fruit of these efforts.
At the heart of our work is a theory of change, which is likely as old as learning itself. This theory of change holds that people and organizations can sharpen their impact and effectiveness by putting adaptive learning into practice. Our learning plan sets out how we are implementing and exploring this theory of change in relation to our efforts to promote open and accountable governance.
First, it explains what we mean by adaptive learning and why it is central to what we do. Second, it describes how we are supporting adaptive learning through our programs and projects, working with country-level and external partners on: data and citizen engagement (see, for instance, our work on integrity in Africa and in the USA); multi-stakeholder governance initiatives (including the Open Government Partnership), open fiscal governance (including our ‘Treasure Hunts’ work in Mexico), and money in politics (including our work on campaign finance). And third, it outlines how we are practicing what we preach, putting adaptive learning into practice, not only through our programs and projects but also at the organizational and individual levels.
By developing and implementing a learning plan — and making explicit the theory of change at its heart — we aim to sharpen our impact and effectiveness in supporting progress toward more open governance and better development outcomes, and that of other actors too. This plan provides a framework for reflection and learning. We will revise it and refine what we do in the light of that reflection. Crafting our learning plan has been a challenge. But we are pleased with the progress we have made.
Our learning plan has been shaped by the various conversations that we have been having over recent years, including with colleagues in the Doing Development Differently, T/A Learn and Thinking and Working Politically communities of practice. Our hope is that our learning plan will be a useful contribution to those conversations. We would love to get your feedback on our plans and to hear about how your organization approaches learning, the plans you have made, the challenges you have faced, and the successes you have enjoyed. We look forward to learning along together — including through the Adaptive Development Google Group — with colleagues around the world who are putting adaptive learning into practice, to support progress toward more open governance and better development outcomes.