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Community Contribution

Adaptive Management: Thoughts About USAID's Evolving Program Cycle (webinar recording)

Ben Ramalingam, Alicia Dinerstein

SID WashingtonWe have learned a lot in the four years since USAID’s Program Cycle reforms were introduced. While the core elements of the Program Cycle - strategic planning, project design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and learning & adapting - remain as important as ever, we know that we can strengthen and integrate these processes in the service of better development practice. To this end, USAID is hard at work to increase the flexibility of Program Cycle processes to promote more iterative and adaptive planning and implementation. A key element of this reform process is a major emphasis on learning, adapting, systems thinking and knowledge management principles - principles that other donors and practitioners are also working to operationalize in their own work.


This event began with a brief overview of how USAID’s Program Cycle is evolving, followed by  reflections from Ben Ramalingam, a leading complexity thinker in international development and author of Aid on the Edge of Chaos (2013). We will focus in particular on shifting expectations and approaches throughout the broader international development community, as well as on questions and challenges that accompany the transition toward more adaptive and complexity-aware development practices.


The second half of the event was dedicated to group discussion.



Ben Ramalingam 

Ben Ramalingam is an internationally known development thought leader working on issues of complexity and systems thinking. A consultant for the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Ben has been instrumental in advising DfID in their recent redesign of their development programming approach, and has supported USAID in the past in complexity-driven monitoring and evaluation, as well as learning and knowledge management.


Alicia Dinerstein


USAID, Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning


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