April 5, 2021
Case Competition Opened
- Are you fostering locally led development through strategic collaboration with local partners?
- Does your team pause and reflect on your activities?
- Are you creating a learning culture within your organization?
- Have you adapted activity implementation based on evaluation findings for performance monitoring information?
The annual Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Case Competition captures real-life examples of USAID staff and partners using CLA approaches to achieve better development outcomes.
The 2021 CLA Case Competition opened on Monday, April 5th and closes after the first 80 submissions are received or on Friday, May 21st at 5:00pm EDT - whichever comes sooner.
This is not a call for traditional success stories; we want to hear what’s working well, what you’re struggling with, and what you’ve learned along the way. It can be about something big, or about one small practice that made an important difference to your work. For example, maybe you've used an evaluation to adapt or improve your programming.
Your case submission will showcase your team’s innovation and expertise, helping us all move the needle on strategic collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptive management. All eligible cases will be featured on USAID Learning Lab and may be shared via communications channels such as our blog, and on Twitter. Browse the cases.
Ultimately, the Case Competition helps us learn about what works and what does not when implementing CLA, and contributes to building the evidence base for CLA. Cases will help inform our adaptive approaches to COVID-19, climate change, addressing equity issues, and other contextual challenges. The past five years of case submissions have been important to informing USAID's and partners' ongoing work and the various ways CLA approaches can be applied for organizational learning and improved development results.
The competition is open to all individuals and all types of organizations working with USAID.
What is Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA)?
In 2012, USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) introduced the concept of collaborating, learning, and adapting at USAID as a way to operationalize adaptive management throughout USAID’s Program Cycle. Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) -- USAID’s approach to organizational learning and adaptive management -- is intended to help USAID and its partners address common challenges that pervade international development assistance, including when:
- Coordination among donors and implementers is lacking, resulting in missed opportunities for greater impact
- Development is donor-driven, rather than country-led or community-owned
- Data and evidence that could inform programming are not utilized
- Outdated practices are still used despite evidence of their ineffectiveness
- Programming is not relevant to the local context
- Donors and implementing partners stick to existing plans and implementation approaches even as the context changes
As development practitioners, USAID staff and implementing partners do their best to avoid these common pitfalls. However, significant demands on time, limited resources, and a need to show immediate results often means that collaborating, learning, and adapting effectively to overcome these challenges remains elusive.
In the simplest terms, integrating collaborating, learning, and adapting throughout the Program Cycle can help development practitioners address the above challenges by thinking through:
- Collaborating: Are we collaborating with the right partners at the right time to promote synergy over stovepiping?
- Learning: Are we asking the most important questions and finding answers that are relevant to decision making?
- Adapting: Are we using the information that we gather through collaboration and learning activities to make better decisions and make adjustments as necessary?
- Enabling Conditions: Are we working in an organizational environment that supports our collaborating, learning, and adapting efforts?
The CLA Framework
While collaborating, learning, and adapting are not new to USAID or international development in general, they often do not happen regularly or systematically and are not intentionally resourced. To address this, USAID's Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Framework helps USAID missions and implementing partners think more deliberately about how to plan for and implement CLA approaches that fit their context and assist them in achieving their development objectives.
Graphic: CLA Framework supports implementation of USAID’s Program Cycle.