Plan’s Performance Agenda: What do you think?

Plan staff near a field in Guatemala

I work with Plan International now. In July, we held a seminar on our new Performance Agenda, which is based on the ideas set out on this website. 27 experts met in London, to talk it over and kick the tyres.

Our aim is to ensure that field staff are more accountable to (a) local communities, (b) managers and (c) donors – all through one coherent approach. It focuses mainly on managing the quality of assistance we provide (which is in our control), rather than long term impact (which is not).

The seminar was the first step in testing out the agenda with an external audience. Now there’s a short report available, which includes an overview of our approach, a summary of what people there said and a list of other new initiatives to improve quality & accountability by the NGOs in the room.

If you’re feeling very committed – or bored – there’s also a half hour audio recording of the presentation I made on the agenda, with two sides of accompanying speaking notes.

Overall, the assembled experts where excited by the agenda. They liked that Plan is trying something new in this field. They thought we should still keep monitoring impact. And they reminded us that development and organisational change are both difficult. All very good points, which will influence our work.

What do you think?

I’d be very interested and grateful for any comments you might have. Is this going along the right lines? Do you know any relevant work we could learn from? I’m keen to contribute to debates across the sector on how we can all keep improving the quality and accountability of our work.

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing, and I apologize if I’ve misunderstood and am unfairly critical. If so, please clarify and we can chat more via email. Basically, I don’t see high quality programs as relevant at all. It’s supply oriented; self-referential. I think all real development is self-development and internationals’ main role is to stop undermining it, and secondarily, to be response to any invitations for solidarity. Period. Your thoughts?

  2. Hi Nora,

    That’s a pretty purist view! I agree with the basic principle that development is self-development. But the whole panoply of development agencies is not about to disappear. So, for me, the question is how can we help them work better, and do more to support self-development and less of the supply-side push. The whole of this site is dedicated to tackling that question.

    All the best


    • I used to think that way, but after several years of working hard to try to convince international aid actors to make good on their own principles and commitments (everything from local ownership to international law), I’ve realized how illogical aid reform is. They’ve already articulated an impressive agenda, so why do they need us to spend our time and resources “advocating” for them to implement it? I’d really like to hear your views on that.

  3. What a sly way to skirt the issue on the failure of INGOs to measure the impact of their humanitarian activities on the lives of target populations to whom they are accountable. It simply passes the ball onto the hands of oftentimes overworked field managers (local staff). On the other hand, expatriates, who are country/regional directors or technical coordinators/consultants, will have someone to blame for whatever shortcoming or shortfall, or debacle, which includes not being able to say something with confidence about the long term results of programs.

    It’s like development is a big feast. Plan is the host and Alex is the chef. Plan will provide food to the guests (families and communities). Alex will oversee a big kitchen with many cooks (technical and management staff at all levels) so that they not “spoil the broth.”

    For sure, Plan will have the wherewithal to cook and serve good food. However, in this case, Plan seems not really interested to know whether the guests will find it nutritious (long term result). Plan will only know whether the guests will find it delicious (intermediate result) and go home full (immediate result).

  4. Our NGO, “PURBASHA” has recently been registered. We have determined to do our best for our locality as well as society. But due to financial inefficiency we cannot achieve goal…

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