The Unvarnished Project Cycle

This is genius from Lisa McNally – feel free to suggest further improvements

logic model of the logic model











And I guess this is the exec sum, although it’s actually a very optimistic version, in that ‘what happened’ ends up roughly in the same place as the planned version, in the top right quadrant (there’s three others available…..)

planned v actualAnyway, they’re both brilliant. Have a good weekend.

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3 Responses to “The Unvarnished Project Cycle”
  1. Hans Joosse, impact investor

    However: still astonishing, to put it mildly, that so many well educated people are waisting their time and taxpayers money in beleiving that a system of short term programs, bullocks logframes, and planning can “bring” prosperity.
    You know from the start that the second graph will occur…..
    The only two important ingredients are: flexibility in approach and a long term mindset.
    When will the “industry” finally have faith, get real, and leave the destructive M&E cultus behind?

  2. As ineffective capacity building in a previous blog is analogous in many aspects to this issue of ineffective project cycle, I feel compelled to repeat my essential ‘aide-memoires’ to optimizing chances for success of any potential project (with additional clarifications):
    1. Understanding the metacontext: country, culture, society; dynamics with other countries, especially neighbours; history. In many projects, foreign staff inexperienced with the host country have very little time after arrival to become familiar with the language, let alone a comprehensive background as to what may be contributing to the perceived weaknesses, issues, concerns and local solutions. This augurs an expensive but unrealisable effort.
    2. Understanding the mesocontext: specific host organization, government bureaucracy; who are the decision-makers; how is the interaction between NGOs and government; what regulations, if any, may have an effect on the success of those who complete the programme etc.; details on any similar previously implemented programme(s)—content, shortcomings, successes; receptivity of host(s). Not taking—or not being given—the time to understand the internal workings of key stakeholders and their inter-relationships is recipe for continuing ambiguity and frustration.
    3. Determining the actual issues and needs: via participatory investigation with key stakeholders including peripheral and ‘weaker’ individuals and groups. There often is an over-emphasis on the most vocal and powerful stakeholders, not realising that their perceptions of needs and mode of improvement may be quite different from those of the intended peripheral beneficiaries.
    4. Process of planning the ‘remedy’: jointly designing the scope of planned intervention; realistic expectations. Entering a different culture with the feeling that one—and/or one’s sending organization—has definitive answers to the perceived issues and problems is a conceited approach that not only will backfire but also belies the plethora of festering problems which most sending countries have at home (e.g. drugs, child poverty, festering indigenous people’s issues, socio-economic divide, etc.).
    5. Process of intended programme delivery: joint facilitation, not just by outsiders; use of locally relevant modalities; exploration of alternative capacity building modalities. The consideration of training domestic trainers of ensuring that all imported knowledge and skills could be sustained by locals is often missing.
    6. Knowledge of the probability of those whose capacity has been ‘upgraded’, ‘refreshed’ or ‘enhanced’ to actually get opportunities to use newly acquired knowledge and skills. Often, returnees from overseas training (including degree programmes) return to face superiors with less knowledge and skills, thus inadvertently becoming embroiled in frequently unwinnable personality issues.
    7. Ensuring that those positioned above the intended participants (e.g. supervisors, superintendents, directors, etc.) would also participate, at least in per-identified critical sessions. This is to mitigate the previous common issue.
    8. Immediate post-programme review and documentation of suggested changes for future such programmes. It is essential while staff and beneficiaries are still there, while information and visible effects are present, that there be a thorough guided reflection of the history and prognosis of the project.
    9. Understanding and agreement on what –if any– follow-up there would be to optimize retention and evolve locally planned follow-ups. Rarely are there funds for ex-post evaluations to verify (any) sustained beneficial impacts.