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Webinar: Reform Strategies for Development Professionals: How to Plan for and Measure Change in Complex Systems

Rachel Kleinfeld

Development practitioners have increasingly realized the value of learning by doing and of incorporating flexibility into program design. These adaptive approaches have particular application to programs that are affected by or that seek to influence policy reform. In policy work, success typically depends on an ability to navigate complex political and social systems and to adjust to non-linear policy trends. How then can practitioners and donors know whether progress is being made from month to month or year to year? And how can they feed lessons from their development programs into decision making?

Rachel Kleinfeld has outlined keys to creating and measuring change in complex systems in her recent report, Improving Development Aid Design and Evaluation: Plan for Sailboats, Not Trains. She will introduce ways to think about changing the rules of the game, and measures that can capture the dynamics of this process. Discussant Kim Bettcher will illustrate how Kleinfeld's principles might be applied in the field and some challenges in aligning knowledge management with shifting policy spaces. Participants will add their experiences and ideas for assessing policy opportunities and building policy learning into development programs.


Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she focuses on issues of rule of law, security, and governance in post-conflict countries, fragile states, and states in transition. As the founder of the Truman National Security Project, she spent nine years as CEO of a movement of national security, political, and military leaders working to improve the security policies of the United States.

Dr. Kim Bettcher, Senior Knowledge Manager, Center for International Private Enterprise

Knowledge Management Workgroup Co-Chairs:

Tony Pryor, Senior Programming Adviser, U.S. Agency for International Development

Dr. Stacey Young, Senior Learning Adviser, U.S. Agency for International Development

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