Like other agencies involved in international development cooperation, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is committed to enhancing its results orientation, learning and effectiveness through more responsive and accountable programming. Encouraging a culture in which citizens participate in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and country strategies is essential for achieving these aims. This note is about SDC’s experience with beneficiary assessment (BA), an evaluation approach used to increase its responsiveness and accountability to the citizens who are the intended direct and indirect beneficiaries of its work. It aims to both raise awareness of the potential advantages of using Beneficiary Assessment to enhance learning, responsiveness, accountability and effectiveness, and to contribute to enhancing capacity and confidence to use BA in the evaluation of projects, programmes and country strategies by providing practical orientation and support.
Failure happens. This is a community and a resource to encourage new levels of transparency, collaboration and innovation across the for-purpose sector.
It is painful for civil society organisations to acknowledge when we don’t meet our goals and objectives; it is just as painful to worry about how funders will react to such failure. The paradox is that we do everything we can to avoid these pains even though we all know failure is the best teacher and we have to be open and talk about our failures in order to learn. More than that, openly acknowledging failure is often a catalyst for innovation that takes our work from good to great.
To address this conundrum we need a paradigm shift in how civil society views failure. We think this starts with open and honest dialogue about what is working and what isn’t, so Admitting Failure exists to support and encourage organisations to (not surprisingly) admit failure.
1. To concede as true or valid <admit responsibility for a failure>
2. To allow entry <admit failure into the organization, allowing a safe space for dialogue>
Fear, embarrassment, and intolerance of failure drives our learning underground and hinders innovation.
No more. Failure is strength. The most effective and innovative organisations are those that are willing to speak openly about their failures because the only truly ‘bad’ failure is one that’s repeated.