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Community Contribution

Rapid Management Reviews: Unstick CLA to Release Human and Organizational Potential

Gastao Mendes, Mark Renzi

Collaboration is great when it works.  But, well, life can be awful when things are not going well between USAID and a critical implementing partner. It happens more often than we would wish, and it can be a pain in the neck! The unhealthy behaviors that throw things out of whack are simple: one part perceived mistakes, two parts imperfect communication, five parts in-group thinking on each side --> and before you know it, the CLA posture is a mess. Now, place that painful condition into the personal and bureaucratic Stress Oven -- by not proactively tending to your CLA -- and that pain metastasizes into full mutual mistrust, bad feeling, bad mouthing, and a job that you dread! You can't fix it (ADAPTING) because you don't know what's wrong (LEARNING is blocked) because you've forgotten how to communicate clearly and work together (COLLABORATING.)  It's all backwards.  You are firmly in the Anti-CLA Zone! You need a CLA pause, reflect, and RESET. You can't see past the pain to look at implementation clearly. 

Here, in Maputo, we've begun experimenting with our IPs and our Contracting, Technical, and Program offices to conduct Rapid Management Reviews (RMRs.) A third party (MSI, implementer of the Mission's contract for MEL and CLA, in this case) engages USAID and the IP in a collaborative dialogue about what is wrong, and what can be done to fix the relationship. Usually, each side has all the information it needs for "good CLA," if it just chooses to be frank about problems (they know what is broken) and listen to solutions. That Gorgeous IP that won the solicitation still has the skills and people to transform peoples' lives, and USAID is still a great agency that understand development better than any other.  We just need to remember why we got together in the first place. RMRs can get things back on track quickly. If both sides admit there is something wrong (and that each side is at fault), are committed to improving, and there is a sense of urgency to improve implementation, then you can energize efficiency, effectiveness and overall job joy. If those conditions don't exist, try something else from the CLA arsenal.