LearnAdapt: innovation and adaptation in DFID

April 2017 to November 2020

Since the End to End review and the Smart Rules, staff within the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) have worked to make organisational systems and processes fit for adaptive management. There are diverse examples of DFID programmes and portfolios that have worked in this way, including in relation to women’s economic empowerment in Mozambique, country strategy in Nepal, education policy reforms and an assortment of Frontier Technology projects. However, there remains work to be done to get the right authorising environment, skills and tools for DFID to be a world leader on this agenda.

LearnAdapt is a collaboration between DFID, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Brink, to explore how to manage adaptive development programmes better. It draws on approaches from the development and tech sector including adaptive management, agile ways of working and lean start-up.

As with many development challenges, there is no one answer to ‘how to do adaptive management?’. This project works across DFID and HMG, drawing on staff experiences, to help build flexible tools, systems and processes which can support them to deliver change in diverse and complex contexts. In addition to providing internal support across DFID and HMG, the project seeks to develop publically available tools and convening opportunities for shared learning on adaptive management for the wider development sector. 

For more information on this project, visit LearnAdapt's blog for emerging lessons from this project, sharing different perspectives across our team, including DFID staff, researchers and innovation specialists. This is a sister project to the Global Learning for Adaptive Management (GLAM) initiative – a globally networked learning alliance that aims to actively identify, operationalise and promote rigorous evidence-based approaches to adaptive management, funded by DFID and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

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