Looking Back on our 2017 CLA Resolutions

Dec 14, 2017 by Amy Leo Comments (0)

In January 2017, the USAID LEARN team was inspired by Feedback Labs to document and share our 2017 Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) resolutions. Since one of our team values is to “walk the talk” of CLA, we recently took some time to pause and reflect on how our resolutions went...

Melissa resolved to take time to organize

I resolved to be more intentional in my knowledge management processes. While I quickly learned that a daily practice of reviewing my file and version history was unrealistic, I settled into a pattern of doing so weekly on Friday afternoons and then doing a final, big picture review at the end of each discrete deliverable I worked on. This meant that files and their contents were still top of mind enough to know where I should be keeping them and how they should be labeled to fit the LEARN naming convention and also make sense inside my subfolders. When things got busy, I still went back to my old ways of saving everything to my desktop, but it was a lot easier to recover from those slips with a more solid foundation to lean on.

-Melissa Bevins, Events and Networking Specialist


Monalisa resolved to pause and reflect as a team

We held a half day Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning team retreat in August, though I’m not sure this will be a semi-annual event (more likely annual). The objectives were to feel more connected to each other personally and professionally and figure out which activities we wanted to start, stop, or continue as part of our larger LEARN work planning process. During the retreat, we did an exercise where we wrote down questions for each other covering both personal and professional topics, and we actually still sit together to answer questions we didn’t get to in our biweekly team meetings. It’s a great way to continue to deepen our connections to each other as a team.  

-Monalisa Salib, Manager, Organizational Learning and Research


Eric resolved to apply CLA processes

“I resolved to ensure we are walking the talk on operations. While I feel I could have been more intentional about doing this and continue to try to control my approach more, I feel I have helped lead this throughout the year. After a challenging recruit for a manager position on our operations team, I worked with the Leadership Team to revision our team’s structure by promoting internal candidates, which has paid back in spades in terms of investing in potential, and we were able to identify associate-level support more expediently. With the buy-in process, in working with some of my colleagues, we are currently capturing it in less of a formal process but more framed as best practices. It still encourages uniformity of process, but acknowledges that each of our now 34 clients has different needs and requires different approaches. In addition, we are starting to document trigger points for reflection throughout the buy-in process to acknowledge it is on a different cycle than our normal contract activities.

-Eric Friesth, Senior Operations Manager



Pictured: [Most] of the USAID LEARN team with Dexis CEO Mihir Desai.

Amy resolved to request feedback on progress toward learning goals

“I resolved to ask for feedback on performance related to my learning goals on a weekly basis. I don’t think I did this quite as frequently as weekly, but I did practice my meeting facilitation skills this year and requested feedback each time. I also practiced giving feedback, even when it felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone. As a result, I feel much more comfortable giving and receiving feedback than I did at the beginning of the year. I also became a better facilitator!”

-Amy Leo, Communications Specialist


Kristin resolved to reflect every Friday

“I resolved to set aside 15-30 minutes each Friday to reflect on what went well, what didn't, and what I can do moving forward. This resolution was especially helpful when I filled in for a colleague on maternity leave. I had to quickly learn new roles and responsibilities while also managing my normal workload. Taking the time to reflect on what was working, what wasn’t and what needed to change surfaced key learnings that I applied immediately to my work. Granted, I couldn’t always commit to reflect every week, but managed to do it when it mattered most. I became a better manager and colleague through this process and continue to make time to pause and reflect.”

-Kristin Lindell, Senior Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research Specialist


Samantha resolved to take the time to keep learning

“I resolved to set aside more time to read or watch something every week that could inform my work. While I did not keep to my plan for this to be a weekly effort, I have taken the time to read shorter news articles that are relevant to my work. Finding time to read is an ongoing challenge for me but I plan to keep this resolution for 2018 and learn when and how I can!”

-Samantha Levine-Finley, Senior Learning Specialist


Matt resolved to journal more

“I resolved to journaling more often in order to both structure my work and learn from my own work experiences. This was a partial success. I had initially thought that this would involve journaling in one place, but in the end the detailing of my experiences has been more ad hoc. I have written down more posts in our LEARN Knowledge Drop but the idea of independently detailing this stuff did not happen. Realistically, I think that would have required a more intentional approach - taking 5 minutes out of my day to do this. Perhaps that will be my 2018 new year resolution…”

-Matthew Baker, Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research Specialist


Kat resolved to demonstrate the ability to pivot

I resolved to seek feedback and positively engage with failure. I quickly learned that asking for feedback can be a little bit awkward. I also learned that quality feedback actually stings a little. It feels similar to growing pains. The most important lesson I learned is that good-hearted humor goes a long way when delivering feedback.  When I wrote this resolution last year, I didn’t realize that the burden for good feedback really falls on the giver, not the asker. I really appreciate my colleagues for giving me thoughtful and actionable feedback (even though it’s sometimes hard to hear!) because it showed me that they are invested in my growth. Next year, I resolve to take bigger risks (read: make more mistakes).

-Kat Haugh, Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Associate


Piers resolved to blog about leading LEARN

I resolved to produce a monthly blog series over six months, focusing on one of the six CLA Framework components per month.  With some excellent input, guidance, and editing from Amy Leo, all six were released on a monthly basis, concluding in June 2017.  Links to all six can be found towards the end of the overview blog post.

-Piers Bocock, USAID LEARN Chief of Party

We’re taking our 2017 CLA Resolutions to a new level in 2018! Keep an eye out for an announcement in early January...