Friday, October 26, 2007

Finalization discussion 'capacity building vs implementation'

Last week, 19th October 2007, we finalized our discussions about ' capacity building vs implementation' with a skype meeting reviewing and talking through our d-group discussions. Hereby some of our discussion group findings.

Two advisors are both struggling with the fact that they want to build capacity by helping the people in their organizations writing their proposals and other documents themselves, but that in practice people want them to write it for them, or put them in that position due to time constraints.

I it suggested that it is probably different in different situations which choices might be best. Furthermore one of the processes in capacity building is that the participants gain confidence in their ability of proposal writing. She proposes an example of a four step approach to build this capacity (start doing everything together; next start together but let colleague do main writing; next let colleague start and coach along the way; finally only discuss the final product)

Also contingent and systems-thinking perspective is proposed, in which the different levels of capacity (institutional/contextual; organisational; individual) are interacting in a dynamic and complex way. Each situation is different and it is proposed to systematically analyse these situations by answering a series of questions, to feed the approach you should take as a capacity builder. Based on this systematic analysis, sometimes it could be not a bad idea to invest more time in ‘writing’ a proposal when this also leads to a more strategic approach to proposal development. But when a new proposal is less strategic, but more of the same, you may want to stick to the ‘advising’ part (and maybe some editing).

Discussions went on to see how best to measure the progress in this capacity building process (e.g. % of proposals developed on their own) and the relationship / dependency between southern and northern partners.

What are the recommendations from our Skype meetings?

Advisor 1: The Strategic Plan should be the starting point, and be based on good context analysis. It should be monitored and evaluated if strategies should be executed with or without support of people from abroad (participatory M&E).

Advisor 2: It is important to facilitate, let things go and then see what happens. We should discuss within the organization whether we should or should not appoint new people from abroad.

Advisor 3: Context analysis is important. When formulating the strategic plan, but also in the entire capacity building process, to keep observe, reflect and act on the context.

Advisor 4: Sometimes you should let things go. If I don’t feel comfortable, is that me? We should not always respond to all problems, but that can be difficult.

Advisor 3: Indeed, we should make people in the organization take the lead, also in expressing the problem. But I also observe that that is what they expect of me, thus sometimes it feels like I am dodging my tasks if I don’t provide my opinion. They don’t always appreciate if I don’t. Difficult to unify with capacity building.

Advisor 2: It helps to explain why you act the way you act. Not because I don’t want to assist, but because I think it is better for the organization to do it this way.



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