While there may be multiple entry points to doing development work, they should all lead to the same obvious place. That is, of course, reducing poverty and suffering in the world. For people in development and related fields, working toward these lofty goals requires the tenacity toward achieving results, willingness to be monitored and evaluated, and commitment to continuously enhance one’s technical competence and personal effectiveness.
CommGAP recently met with representatives of the African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (AfCoP-MfDR). On its website, AfCoP describes itself as a virtual community that “promotes learning and knowledge exchange among public managers, organizations, executing agencies and practitioners on how to manage better for Development Results.” The community has over 500 members from over 32 African countries, working in government, civil society, and the results practice areas. Online discussions revolve around five substantive areas of managing for results: leadership; M&E; accountability and partnerships; planning and budgeting; and statistical capacity.
AfCoP provides an important service to those who care about development effectiveness in Africa; it is a virtual platform for both expert-led as well as peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and capacity building on the “how to” of the results agenda. For example, the site features a recently concluded discussion on how to cultivate a “managing for development results culture” in African organizations. I found the thoughts shared by Dr. Rosa Muraguri-Mwololo particularly resonant with what CommGAP has learned about the practicalities of bureaucratic cultures and change management:
“Culture is largely about 'how things are done' in an organization and the assumptions that inform the behaviour. Management behaviour defines the culture of any organization- so people look up to see what senior management emphasises, rewards and punishes, and that way, they know what is considered important or otherwise. Subtle and overt signals from senior management influence the way the rest of the staff thinks and behaves in any organization. Staff can read signs from speeches, from behaviour, and from what management rewards, and they know without anyone speaking whether MfDR is considered important or not- and they will act accordingly, hence creating a culture.
Most barriers to the transfer of MfDR manifest themselves in these informal behaviour or components of the organization. For a new results culture to take root, the existing culture has to be fully analyzed for compatibility. The technical aspects of MfDR will not be effective if the social behaviour in the organization is not understood and addressed.”
Those who really care about results and how to achieve them understand the centrality of people in the development process. One of the things that AfCoP demonstrates is that taking people seriously is a necessary condition for managing for development results. Please check out their site and join the discussions!