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Planning needs to adapt to what we learn

posted Jul 10, 2014, 12:10 AM by Ross Colliver   [ updated Aug 26, 2014, 10:51 PM ]

Planning is about making decisions about priorities, allocating resources to the priorities, and designing the actions that will make a difference. Planning is not just about goals: it's mostly about "how to's" of achieving those goals. How best to communicate to specific sectors of specific rural communities? What activities are needed? Who is best to take what roles in that organising?

Adaptive management means that being about to revise previous decisions about how to achieve your goals. To adapt, to review the action taken and its impacts, then use what you learn to reset priorities and revise the design.

The concept of adaptive management has grown up in the NRM world, but I'm taking on a guiding idea here of design, with its cycles of design, test, redesign. "Design" means putting all the options on the table and imagining new ways to shift things in a good direction. Good design requires an understanding of what will best influence people, bureaucracies and in the end, the landscape. We can know a bit ahead of time about all that, but most of our understanding comes as we try htings out in action and find what does and doesn't work.

So when you set out to plan, have a look at how your last plan went.

If there wasn't a plan, interrogate some of the highlights along the way so far. A Timeline is good for doing this (see below).

For the way organisations can extract learning from action, go here for some recent work on a design for learning.

Ross Colliver,
Jul 10, 2014, 12:37 AM