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Submitted by Patricio V Marquez on
Good piece Adam. You arguments are correct as indeed the “how to deliver it” question is and should be at the core of our work. And failures have resulted in some cases when the management of projects have concentrated on the "what to deliver”question and not on the “how to deliver it” question, particularly the “how to" ADAPT not mechanically ADOPT "generic" what/how to the heterogeneous political, social and institutional realities of countries. One way to mitigate this ever present risk would be to focus, as part of the ongoing change agenda, on ways to distil in a systematic manner the “tacit knowledge” that is generated by operational staff during the day to day processes and practices that occur when designing projects and providing project implementation support in different countries. So as we learned from a presenter during the HD Forum, operational staff should be encouraged to reflect on their experiences and "debriefing mechanisms," either in the form of recorded interviews or specific summary briefs, should be adopted to summarize and disseminate operational "how to” knowledge to management and operational staff alike. This would complement nicely the ex-post impact evaluation work as it would focus on the "how to" processes and practices, including the adaptation and adjustments that are needed in light of changing country realities over the life of a project or program. The recently announced "sabbatical" initiative for operational staff announced by the Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC) is a step in the right direction as this new program aims to give on-the-ground experts from regions and networks time to reflect on lessons learned from their operational experience, share their knowledge with staff, identify areas needing further research, and collaborate with researchers on how to fill those gaps.