This June I had the privilege to work with 27 professionals at CDA’s inaugural presentation of the Achieving Strategic Change in Fragile Contexts Course, which was co-organized by our good friends at the Barcelona International Peace Resource Center.
Participants came from over 22 different organizations in 18 countries to learn from us, and from each other. Participants arrived at the course with a range of concerns about how to improve their work. Some participants admitted that they experience barriers to applying conflict analysis and strategic program assessment tools in their work.
They identified these barriers as the “extremely dynamic and rapidly changing conflicts” they work in and the inability of existing tools “to capture complexity and reflect flexibility with which interventions should be devised.” Others were most concerned about the challenge of prioritizing “delivery vs. analysis” which is only amplified by “lack of access to program stakeholders”.
Participants also arrived with unique sets of skills and experiences. Throughout the course of the workshop we made sure to create opportunities for them to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with one another and with us. What we learned was that the barriers they faced in their work were not unique, and even if the were unable to come up with the solution for their challenges, they were able to help each other devise some strategies for the future.
Our goal was to provide course participants with practical tools for developing strategic programs in fragile contexts. What we learned was that these practical tools are applied in an organizational context that presents its own challenges. We don’t have all the answers about how to best implement these tools, but we can all learn from the experiences of others.
As I am preparing to co-facilitate the course again in October, I wonder where our new group will teach us.
Hope to see you there!
Reflections on and concepts from the Practical Tools for Promoting Positive Change in Complex Contexts Course. By Nicole Goddard, Associate Director, CDA