Compasses when there are no maps: The growing importance of adaptive management to the development sector and the role of real-time data

Nov 20, 2019

In a world with dynamic population movements, outbreaks with cross-border implications, and increasingly politicized health issues, linear and inflexible approaches to global health programs is ineffective. Adaptive management has emerged as one possible approach that embodies iteration and adaptability in program design and implementation to help with navigating complex and dynamic environments. It entails iterative program timelines, funding mechanisms, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans, and implementation strategies that allow for a process of continuous “learning by doing.” It builds in explicit processes of testing, learning, and iteration throughout the project lifecycle and calls for an organizational culture that embraces flexibility and learns from its failures.

This white paper challenges traditional project management in the global development sector. It encourages donors, policymakers, implementers, and ministries of health to set a new precedent of adaptive programming to:

  • Holistically apply adaptive management approaches throughout the project lifecycle, instead of the ad hoc manner that is traditionally been used in programming.
  • Realize the value and potential of real-time data to facilitate adaptive management.
  • Develop learning-centered organizations that foster collaboration, nurture openness, and convert failures into lessons.

Read the full white paper here.

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