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Who Are We? What Can We Offer?

D3-revising TORsNow that we have a few years of work under our collective belt, the Nepal learning workshop provided us with a great opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we can realistically offer. We had a great group of people in the room, with ‘clients’ of Standing Team deployments, new and old team members, and AIM Advisers.

Participants worked in teams to revise the ‘terms of reference’ (TOR) for the AIM Standing Team. This foundational document outlines who we are, what we do, and what we can offer. Looking at what was done and what was not done this past year, what was emphasized, and what are areas of work and achievements of the team that have not been captured.
The input of each group was then tracked on the original file, and collected by the team for future analysis. Questions, of course, have arisen in this process, but they are not for us to answer so much as to outline for those who decide the future of this work.

It is our hope that this revised Terms of Reference document can be an excellent starting point for future work in this area.

Standing Team ToR edited by the ST

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D3-final evaluation

We have spent the last 18 months working together, and working hard at that. We wanted to ensure participants had a chance to thank each other for all the hard work, sharing of learning, and tremendous effort that has gone into the Standing Team. Therefore, all participants were asked to write their name on a sheet of paper.

They all then passed it to another  person to the table, who wrote a brief, anonymous note about what they learned from this person.

The paper was then passed on, until all participants wrote something on it.

At the end of the workshop, every participants received the letter,  as a way to thank her/him for its contribution to the workshop and to the Standing Team.

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Every good workshop ends with a good action planning session to keep the momentum moving forward. CARE team member Audree provided us with an overview of the CARE model of the Standing Team, to see to what extent individual agencies can support an individual agency (as opposed to an ECB) Standing Team. Some agencies are interested in pursuing this model based on the CARE experience.

Here are some of the ideas for future work that would likely require a budget:

DOCUMENTATION:

  • Standing Team deployment process documented
  • Accountability Review practice
  • Document success stories and lessons learned to due improved accountability practices
  • Strengths and gaps in analysis on accountability
  • Provide support for accountability frameworks
  • Provide support for agency/office complaints response mechanism policy
  • Provide support for creating an information policy at country level

INTERAGENCY

  • Create interagency emergency protocol (global or country lelve)
  • Engage country offices in ECB activities (beyond consortia)
  • Promote gender and women’s leadership
  • Work with partners on these topics, consider deployments to them

CLUSTER

  • Support cluster accountability
  • Continue current cluster accountability work

MARKETING

  • Promote and market team further
  • Promote AIm in development projects
  • Follow up after deployments

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR STANDING TEAM

  • Develop/promote e-learning courses on accountability
  • Increase and diversify skills within Standing Team, based on demand
  • Develop capacity on impact measurement methodologies and approaches
  • Link accountability outcomes
  • Hold more Standing Team workshops
  • Hold a ToT on the Good Enough Guide, using ECB ToT

Prioritized future work that would NOT require a budget, but would require staff time:

SHARING:

CAPACITY BUILDING:

  • Increase capacity of DM&E
  • Increase capacity of facilitation of workshop
  • Hold webinars
  • Assign a coach for each team member
  • Communicate with AIM Advisers
  • Carry out a needs assessment for country offices in their AIM work

TOOLS:

  • Develop, review and use the AIM ECB tools, as well as other
  • Profile the ST members and their skills
  • Create evidence on impact of deployments and training workshop
  • Define clear post-deployment follow up process, including role of Standing Team

OTHER:

  • Set up Complaints Response mechanisms
  • Create deployment ToR templates
  • Help run country self assessment surveys
  • Engage in Standing Team fundraising
  • Deploy within our own agencies

D3_plan overview

Session methodology: We had an usual take on action planning. We started with a ‘treasure hunt.’ Participants were divided in groups to identify three areas:

  • Activities the Standing Team had done really well and would want to continue doing them (written on yellow cards)
  • Activities the Standing Team did not do so well, but that we are learning how to do better, and we should continue doing them (on blue cards)
  • Activities that have not yet been done, but we do have the capacity to do, and that we should be doing (on red cards)

Activities are then sorted in two “baskets”:

  • Activities that can be sustained with existing resources
  • Activities that require external budget

The discussion led to further categorizing of the activities across emerging topics.

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It was important to interrogate our model and gauge how our participating clients, team members, and Advisers perceived the effectiveness its effectiveness.  In order to do this, we threw out a series of provocative statements to start the discussion.
D2-BQ-overview

Participants were divided in 3 groups, and each of them tackled a “provoking (or provocative!) statement”:

  • There is insufficient demand to justify maintaining a standing team
  • The standing team is not cost-effective
  • The standing team members are perceived as too junior to have the necessary impact

We asked:

  • What justifies these statements? Provide supporting evidence
  • What are the counter-arguments? Provide supporting evidence
  • What are the potential options for a way forward?

Each group discussed the statement and then the results were reported in a plenary session.

Additional comments / experiences / opinions were shared by participants following each presentation.

Highlights

There is insufficient demand to justify maintaining a standing team

  • There should be a better balance between accountability and impact measurement to increase demand.
  • Many country offices do not know about the Standing Team, which is why they may not be requesting it.  We need to do better marketing to make people aware of the services!
  • There have been repeated requests from Bolivia, Bangladesh, and Nepal (non-ECB consortia country) requested the support when they were made aware of it.  However, it is important to note that there was funding provided for this.
  • Standing team members are approached directly for their services in-country, but this is not requested or documented formally at the ‘global level.’
  • Important to note the difference between demand and donor obligation.
  • Demand from other collaborating agency to work with the ST, e.g. CDAC.

The standing team is not cost-effective

  • A large initial investment (“start-up cost”) was required to improve the capacity of the ST members.  We are only now seeing the fruits of this investment and would argue that they are worth that initial investment.
  • Due to their positions within agencies, one ST member can raise the capacity of fifty (or more – 900 in the case of PSEA trainings in Haiti!).  The training and experience of this one Standing Team member goes a lot further than has been documented.
  • With the ST model, the money stays within the agencies, rather than going to an outside consultant.  We are paying for our own capacity building, and that knowledge remains internal.
  • Members can remain on the ST even when they switch agencies or positions within agencies (e.g. Tania in Bolivia and Idrissa in West Africa). Knowledge and experience are not necessarily lost with turnover.
  • It is clear that there is a lot of value that has not been documented or shared properly.
  • Regional workshops or deployment could be more cost-effective (though there was something to be said for the cross-cultural learning of a deployment such as Emmanuel’s from Kenya sharing his experience with Bolivia).

The standing team members are perceived as too junior to have the necessary impact

  • There are many different levels of experience within the ST, which is seen as normal.
  • Are there gaps in the ST selection process? A strong selection process on the part of the agencies is key to having a high-caliber team.
  • Everyone appears to agree with the CARE model of deploying one ‘junior’ staff (less experienced in accountability) and one senior staff member. Coaching and mentorship is key.  ECB has always tried to deployment one AIM Adviser for each mission, but it has proved extremely difficult to deploy AIM Advisers due to busy schedules.
  • If a deployment is requested or planned at the last-minute, it may be difficult to release the most suitable team member.
  • As the team members have been selected by the AIM Advisers, we believe that they have validated their members skills and experience by selecting them.
  • Post deployment evaluation process should be strengthened and formalized.

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Group picture!

Here are two terrific pictures of our workshop in action. You can feel our enthusiasm for accountability from these images! Click on an image to increase the size.

D3_group pic

D3_group pic2

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A cultural event

D2-cultural event

Thanks to our hosts, we enjoyed an evening of music and dance!

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