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Community Contribution

Introducing Learning Lab's August Theme: Pause & Reflect!

Aug 02, 2021
Learning Lab Team

The second themed month of our Month and Learn series at Learning Lab is Pause and Reflect. This is an intriguing phrase, action-oriented and, as one interviewee in our new podcast on the topic suggests, “kind of intuitive.” Yet, it is also wide open to interpretation, flexible to include any number of actions.

Pause and reflect might be recognizable by other names, such as organizational stocktaking, reflective learning, big picture reflection, progress check, annual check-in, etc. In general terms, it can be thought of as intentionally taking time to stop and think about a practice, a process, an activity, or a dynamic and then apply the takeaways to adapt going forward. 

Whether a pause and reflect moment is a solo or group effort, how it might be informally or formally structured, how feedback is solicited and what decisions are reached are all adaptable variables that can be adjusted to fit your particular needs. We recommend that you take a listen to this new introductory podcast which provides a broad look, from many perspectives, at what pausing and reflecting means, why it is important, and tips for how to make it effective. 

As Fall approaches, we know we can look forward to portfolio reviews and midcourse stocktakings, end-of-fiscal-year reviews, perhaps even the integration of new team members - these are all perfect examples of opportunities for us to stop, think, and apply new knowledge to improve outcomes. At Learning Lab, we are looking at ways to incorporate more pause and reflect practices into our work. After significant launches or campaign wrap-ups, we host after action reviews to monitor our progress and advance our collective efforts the next time around. The rapid after action review template is now a go-to resource to help us structure our sessions and document feedback. 

To inspire our colleagues and partners to commit to pause and reflect practices in the coming months and all year round, we are sharing exciting new content and revisiting classics on Learning Lab. To start, we expanded the CLA Toolkit to include a brand new cluster on Pause and Reflect, which includes resources and tools related to the topic!

A roadmap of the rest of the month looks like this:

Week 1: Introduction to Pause & Reflect

Week 2: Pause & Reflect in Practice

Week 3: Inclusive Pause & Reflect

Week 4: Pause & Reflect Driving Change

Any exploration of what Pause and Reflect is in the USAID context should avoid prescription while simultaneously deepening our appreciation for what it can be. In this vein, we’re especially excited to collaborate with colleagues in USAID’s Local, Faith, and Transformative Partnerships (LFT) Hub in the Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation (DDI) during Week Three to showcase new content around inclusive pause and reflect and how local stakeholders’ and partners’ knowledge and feedback can be incorporated into all stages of development programming.

Check out the new CLA Toolkit cluster, our podcast, Fresh Perspectives: An Introduction to Pause and Reflect at USAID, and follow us on Twitter at @USAIDLearning as we highlight new and classic content throughout the month. As always, reach out to [email protected] to share your thoughts, ideas, resources and questions.