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PMP Collaborating, Learning and Adapting Plan

The Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Plan section of a PMP sets forth the processes and activities the Mission will use to help ensure that its programming is coordinated, grounded in evidence, and adjusted as necessary to remain effective throughout implementation.

The Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Plan section of a PMP sets forth the processes and activities the Mission will use to help ensure that its programming is coordinated, grounded in evidence, and adjusted as necessary to remain effective throughout implementation.

Collaborating, learning and adapting can all add value to the process of developing the CDCS and to its implementation over the five-year period it covers. Build on what your Mission already does well. It takes time to become an effective learning organization, so don't feel daunted and don't expect to change everything at once.

Recognizing that in almost all organizations there is room to improve strategies for acquiring, learning from, and managing useful information that can enhance program effectiveness. ADS 201 encourages Missions to develop and implement a plan that will help the Mission and its partners benefit from a continuous learning process that is focused squarely on the achievement of the strategy's Development Objectives and the CDCS Goal.

In a PMP, the Mission must at minimum describe its:

  • Plans for strategic collaboration;
  • Knowledge gaps at the strategy level and plans for filling them;
  • Processes for periodic opportunities to reflect on progress, such as after-action reviews and partner meetings, to inform adaptation, and
  • Plans for resourcing CLA in the Mission.

Most Missions already gather performance monitoring information, undertake evaluations, hold portfolio reviews, and meet with their government and other implementing partners. Fewer, however, are easily able to say what they learned from monitoring and evaluating elements of their portfolio; what they did differently because they acquired these types of information; how they acted on an evaluation recommendation or findings reported in a recent string of journal articles in a particular field; or how a portfolio review decision improved the effectiveness of the Mission's program. Learning approaches, as this suggests, may not necessarily require larger investments in information acquisition. They may, however, require a reallocation of what many Mission staff view as being their scarcest resource: time.

USAID’s Guide for Drafting a Collaboration, Learning and Adapting Plan, which is highlighted on the Featured section of this webpage, includes detailed information that will help Mission’s address this PMP requirement.

Among the already completed CDCSs there are several that have well-developed learning approaches that are available on the USAID Country Strategies webpage. Of these, USAID has identified the USAID/Uganda Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Plan as incorporating many of the features it hopes to see in Mission CLA Plans. A short film shot in Uganda, entitled Community Connector and CLA: Proving the Concept is highlighted on this page. It helps bring USAID/Uganda’s CLA approach to life.

In addition to these examples, resources developed by USAID can help Mission’s address each CLA aspect the ADS highlights for attention in a PMP.

Strategic Collaboration

Understanding the Mission’s collaboration environment is an important starting point for discerning opportunities and identifying priorities for strategic collaboration. USAID’s Collaboration Mapping guide will help Mission staff begin this process. USAID’s collaboration mapping materials also include a webinar and a template that Mission’s may find useful.

Filling Knowledge Gaps

Developing a learning agenda by identifying knowledge gaps in the CDCS and developing approaches for filling those gaps is a particularly important task at this stage and USAID’s guide for Establishing a Learning Agenda may be particularly helpful with this process.

Processes for Reflecting and Learning

Improving CLA in a Mission depends on understanding current practices, including the extent to which Mission practices live up to the Mission’s vision and hopes for collaboration, learning and adaption in its program context. To foster a clear understanding of the Mission’s starting point at the beginning of any strategy period, USAID has developed a maturity matrix and process for conducting an internal review and CLA planning process. The process consists of four steps that will help the Mission to:

  • Self-Assess: assess the current state of its CLA practice across the dimensions in the matrix
  • Establish Vision: determine the aspirational future state for your CLA practice across the same dimensions
  • Action Plan: through prioritization, identify where and how to focus future efforts to strengthen your CLA practice and develop your CLA Plan
  • Track Progress: gain a snapshot in time and, when repeated in subsequent years, can help you track changes in CLA integration over time

Other guides and tools for improving reflection and learning may also prove useful to Missions as they develop this section of their PMPs: