How do we put CLA into practice on projects?

Eurasia Foundation
How do we put CLA into practice on projects?

This question came from Moving the Needle, a CLA conference organized by the USAID LEARN team in November 2015. Participants had the opportunity to provide written reflections and questions throughout the day. LEARN and USAID's Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research CLA team organized and clustered the questions, then developed responses to them. Look for more questions from the series to come!

The answers we provide are not the end all. Ask & Answer is a collaborative space, so please add your answers too! How do you practice CLA in your work?


David Ratliff | United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Feb 26, 2016

CLA is an overarching approach or mindset to work that can be applied to any individual, team, or organization, including USAID contracts. Essentially, do you take the time to think critically about who you collaborate with, what you are learning, and where you are investing your time and energy? And do you leverage these efforts to better understand your progress and adapt if necessary? Here is an illustrative list of five concrete ways that CLA can be put into practice on projects: -Create a learning or analytic agenda that identifies core assumptions and gaps in understanding, and indicates how you will test those assumptions and fill knowledge gaps throughout implementation. -Adopt an iterative, adaptive approach to project design and implementation, including the creation of regular feedback loops and ways of integrating new learning into ongoing workstreams. -Design for - and resource - collaboration among implementing partners. *Identify and implement strategies for knowledge capture and knowledge sharing as core functions of project implementation. -Manage relationships in a way that builds trust and appreciation for open, frank conversations about what is working, what isn’t and what we just don’t know yet. Please see Learning Lab for a number of resources, including a collaboration mapping tool, learning agenda examples, and After Action Review guidelines, that will help you be strategic and intentional about incorporating CLA into your contract work streams. We plan to launch a CLA Toolkit in the near future, that will curate the latest resources, templates, and examples of CLA in action. Talking to your COR can also surface opportunities for synergy between mission/bureau CLA efforts and initiatives undertaken through your contract and activities.

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