Adapting in Practice

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Date Published:
June 6, 2018
Community Contribution

 USAID’s work takes place in environments that are often unstable and in transition. Even in more stable contexts, circumstances evolve and may affect programming in unpredictable ways. For its programs to be effective, USAID and its partners must be able to adapt in response to changes and new information. The ability to adapt requires an environment that promotes intentional learning and flexible project and activity design, minimizes the obstacles to modifying programming and creates incentives for managing adaptively. Adaptive management is defined in ADS 201.6 as “an intentional approach to making decisions and adjustments in response to new information and changes in context.” Adaptive management is not about changing goals during implementation, it is about changing the path being used to achieve the goals in response to changes. “Managing adaptively through continuous learning” is one of the four core principles that serve as the foundation for Program Cycle implementation.

Resources in this section include suggestions for building political economy considerations into forms and processes for adaptation, examples of context-driven adaptation in practice, and links to the wealth of resources on CLA and Adaptive Management, techniques that are central to Thinking and Working Politically.

CLA Toolkit Resources

Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting is the Agency’s approach to adaptive management. A robust array of relevant tools and learning products to help you do CLA better is housed here

You will find a growing set of curated tools and resources on Collaborating, Learning and Adapting to help you plan and implement Program Cycle activities more effectively. These include planning for CLA, engaging stakeholders, mid-course reviews and correction, and more, as well as examples of CLA at all points in the program cycle.

Adaptive Management Discussion Note and Resources

The heart of context-driven adaptation is being effective at adaptive management. One of the most useful tools and resources in this effort is the Discussion Note on Adaptive Management. Through this note and related resources, including tips and examples spanning all levels, you can find much more about adaptive management at USAID.


Tips and Resources for Adapting in Practice

In this area, you can find tips and resources for adapting in practice, based on input from USAID staff and implementers as well as others who have managed or undertaken this effort to Think and Work Politically.


Examples of Context Driven Adaptation in Practice

In this area, you can find examples of context-driven adaptation as carried out by different actors, including their reflections on what made it fail or work.


Monitoring, Evaluating, Learning... And Sensing ContextPower Dynamics and Project DesignContext-Driven, Adaptive Solicitations and Awards
Adapting in PracticeExperiences with Politcal Economy Analysis (PEA)Videos and Webinars