The Power of Collaboration and Experiential Learning: Transforming Skeptics into Champions in Jamaica
In 2019, Washington informed USAID/Jamaica that funding for crime and security programming would need to be better aligned with the new Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) framework. This meant current programming would be discontinued at the end of the fiscal year and a new approach would have to be implemented.
When USAID/Jamaica held typical partners meetings to inform their stakeholders, the news was met with resistance and opposition. Mission staff tried a new tactic. They upgraded the usual form of knowledge management–in which USAID distills knowledge and then shares it with stakeholders–to experiential knowledge sharing. They reached out to USAID/Mexico to create a study tour, taking a group of Jamaican crime and violence prevention stakeholders to meet and learn from counterparts in Mexico.
The bus that transported the Jamaican study group to sites across Mexico became a vehicle for collaboration. Participants of the group talked more–and more meaningfully–during this one week, than they had in years of working on these issues, often in parallel. The time spent sitting next to each other, reconvening after an inspirational meeting while traveling to another location, created an opportunity to connect and learn from each other.
The synergies built among this study group lasted even when COVID-19 restrictions significantly slowed the rollout and adoption of the new approach. The personal relationships that the teams developed were sustained through a WhatsApp group. This kept the organizations of this network connected, and allowed them to implement in a coordinated and effective way.
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