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Community Contribution

We Challenge YOU to a CLA Sprint!

Jan 02, 2018
USAID Learning Lab Team

In 2018, we’re taking our Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Resolutions to the next level by inviting the USAID Learning Lab community to participate in CLA Challenge Week, which is Monday, January 22 - Friday, January 26.

We challenge you to kick off 2018 by integrating a new CLA practice into your work, or be more intentional and systematic about an existing CLA practice, over the course of five days. You can participate as an individual or a team.

Here's How it Works:

1. Start with your goal in mind. What is the development or organizational objective you are trying to achieve, and what is your next step in getting there? If it helps, think of an immediate challenge or opportunity that you’re grappling with right now.

For example, if your ultimate goal is to end hunger in your region, how can an intentional CLA approach help you get one step closer to that goal this week? Maybe you could start by strengthening your relationship with a local partner. Or, maybe you could take another look at your data to inform your programmatic decisions.

2. Choose a CLA practice to try. We have a list of ideas below, but the important thing is to choose something that addresses the challenge or opportunity you identified in Step 1. Our list of ideas is not exhaustive, just meant to spark your thinking.

3. Tell us what you’re trying in a simple web form, ideally by Friday, January 19. You can also peek at what others are doing by viewing the web form responses.

4. Do it and document it! Implement your CLA practice Monday, January 22 through Friday, January 26 and capture your progress in writing, audio, or video for Step 5.

5. Tell us how it goes. On Friday, January 26, we will send you an email asking how your CLA practice went. Do you plan to continue or modify your CLA practice? You can share your experience in writing or send us an audio or video recording. In early February, we’ll share all sprinters’ CLA experiences in a blog post (and perhaps a podcast!) on USAID Learning Lab.

Our Goal:

We hope that this sprint inspires you to think about how CLA can help you address challenges or opportunities along the path to reaching your goal.

We also look forward to finding out if any of your experiences during CLA Challenge Week evolve into more intentional, systematic and intentional CLA practices. If so, we hope to read about them in the 2018 Collaborating, Learning & Adapting Case Competition!

CLA Inspiration:


  • Collaboration doesn’t mean more meetings. Take a look at all of your regular meetings and determine how you can be more strategic about your collaboration.
  • Map your local system and local actors with tools like Collaborating Mapping, Net-Mapping, or Social Network Analysis, which you can find on USAID Learning Lab. Determine whether you’re missing a key contributor who could have a positive impact on your work.


  • Devote 30 minutes per day to catch up on new research in your technical sector, and share what you’ve learned with colleagues.
  • Revisit your theory of change and reflect on or discuss how your assumptions are holding up.


  • Schedule 10 minutes to pause and reflect on what you’ve learned at the end of every day. Record your reflections and share relevant lessons with your team.
  • Start documenting programmatic adaptations through a change log, capturing evidence for changes made and their impact. Share this tool with your team.


  • Bring your team together to create or revisit organizational values that outline expectations for norms and behavior.
  • Create an opportunity for staff to share feedback on technical and management issues.


  • Implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) on what information should be documented, where it should be stored, and how often (and by whom) it should be updated.
  • Articulate roles and responsibilities for staff involvement in activities, such as with a RACI chart that captures who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed.


Looking for a printable version of this blog? Download a Two-Pager about CLA Challenge Week.

Looking for more CLA ideas? Check out the CLA Framework & Key Concepts Two-Pager.

Questions about CLA challenge week? Email [email protected].