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Planning for CLA

What is it?

Now that we understand CLA, integrating CLA into our development work takes planning. By developing a plan tailored to our context, efforts to collaborate with stakeholders learn from a variety of sources and apply adaptive management practices will be systematic, intentional and resourced.

As we apply the CLA Framework and pathways approach to our work, it is important to remember to prioritize and customize. The CLA behaviors we adopt should fit the specific context and needs of our work. Intentional planning helps ensure that CLA is systematic, adequately resourced, integrated into ongoing work, and acted on in ways that can maximize results. We can use our  CLA plan as a management tool to articulate our priorities, allocate the necessary resources, and track our progress. For USAID Missions, the required CLA plan in the Performance Management Plan (PMP) focuses on collaborating, learning and adapting at the strategy level. Activity Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) plans address these issues for activity implementation.

    Guidance and Tools

    Need help getting started?

    Consider using the CLA Maturity Tool to explore how your team already uses CLA and where you could improve. As you plan, it may also help to think through how you will resource your CLA efforts.

    Important Tips

    • CLA is not a separate workstream. Practices and principles of collaborating, learning, and adapting should be integrated into existing processes to strengthen our development work and improve aid effectiveness.
    • Keep it simple. Your planning process can be ‘right sized’ to help you define and prioritize CLA approaches that fit programmatic priorities as well as the amount of time you have available. If you use the CLA Maturity tool, there is no expectation that you will go through the entire tool in a single session. Similarly, rather than focusing at the outset on big changes, you may want to start small and build. In any case, it will be important to set realistic expectations for how and to what extent you will improve your CLA practice. For example, you might decide to incorporate moments for reflection or analysis into meetings you already hold.
    • Think holistically. Even when we start small, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind. The CLA Framework brings structure and intentionality to a wide variety of tasks and approaches by helping you prioritize targeted areas for improvement. The CLA Framework can also help you identify existing strengths that can be built upon to improve your practice in another area. For instance, a team with strong “pause and reflect” practices but a weak understanding of the technical evidence base for part of their program might decide to use existing reflection opportunities to review and/or incorporate new evidence into programming discussions.
    • Get people involved strategically. Ultimately, integrating CLA principles and practices into development work is everyone’s responsibility. However, we have also learned that CLA is stronger in operating units that identify and empower CLA champions. Identify the CLA champions across your Mission—including in technical and supporting offices—and empower them to integrate CLA more fully into the Mission’s work. 

    Making the Case

    Teams and organizations that successfully integrate CLA do so both in their technical work (CLA in the Program Cycle) and in how their teams or organizations function (Enabling Conditions). This holistic approach may be particularly effective in improving organizational and development outcomes.