Becoming professional: the practice of capacity development
Capacity development has come of age as a field of theory and practice. Concluding their ground-breaking resource volume for practitioners (Capacity Development in Practice, Earthscan, 2010), editors Jan Ubels, Naa-Aku Acquaye-Baddoo and Alan Fowler point out that a key sign of maturity is the way in which stakeholders within the sector are "beginning to deal with the interconnections relevant for addressing real-life issues and ambitions." As most development challenges are to be addressed by combinations of actors working together, they require capacities that live not only within them but also between them," they note. Such capacities include an expansion in the range of services as well as opportunities for strengthening 'demand power', improving quality of support, scaling up local solutions and reforming financing arrangements.
- A process of intensive, practitioner-focused reflection to distil useful insights from the body of work that has been done so far;
- Accelerate efforts to arrive at a shared understanding of 'the art of intervening', through exploring such questions as: What constitutes a capacity development intervention? What informs the intervention choices that practitioners make? Can the full array of intervention choices be organized in a coherent way to inform decision-making? How can capacity development interventions be tailored to different contexts? ;
- Encourage the systematic tapping of Southern perspectives and experiences in further shaping debate and engagement.
- encouraging systematic learning processes through critical reflection and testing of ongoing capacity development initiatives;
- enhancing mechanisms for peer review and public debate;
- providing greater access to educational programmes and professional training;
- supporting practitioner-led action research;and
- improving engagement with wider society, funders and governments to enhance understanding of the capacity development field.
Building on this 'call to action' this section aims to bring together emerging debates and knowledge to contribute to the professionalization of capacity development practice. We encourage your feedback and ideas to help move this discussion forward.
In Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges (SoL, 2007), C. Otto Scharmer expounds on the theoretical foundations of what he calls "the social technology of precensing". Presencing is a blend of the words "presence" and "sensing", and is defined as "the ability to sense and bring into the present one's highest future potential—as an individual and as a group".
Theory U is presented as a new territory of scientific research and personal leadership, one that is grounded in real life experience and shared practices. Otto Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways by learning to become aware of our "blind spot", by sharing from his own personal and professional development. The final chapters lay out principles and practices that allow everyone to "participate fully in co-creating and bringing forth the desired future that is working to emerge through us".More
24 January 2013
"One finger cannot lift a rock" (Stylus/KIT publishers, November 2012) documents the process of developing communities of practice for a variety of agricultural sectors in Benin, Ghana and Mali. The nine experiences highlighted in the book show that multi-actor platforms require specific facilitation skills, intense engagement and sensitivity to the local context. But they also illustrate that there are creative ways of dealing with the challenges and unpredictable situations that facilitators face.More
14 January 2013
Designing and implementing knowledge exchange initiatives can be a big undertaking. The art of knowledge exchange: A results-focused planning guide for development practitioners presents a strategic, results-oriented approach to facilitating experiential, peer-to-peer learning processes, based on the World Bank institute's capacity development and results framework. The guide aims to "take the guesswork out of the process" by breaking down the role of knowledge connector and learning facilitator into simple steps.More
02 January 2013
Many of those involved in partnerships would say that the broker’s role (whether informal or formal) has been critical. However, the broker’s role must be kept in perspective. Good brokering is not a substitute for good partnering. The Brokering Guidebook illuminates the critical part played by brokers in multi sector partnerships as both process managers and behind the scenes leaders. It focuses on partnership brokering – that essential intermediary function that enables partners to work well together and ensure the maximum effectiveness of their partnership.More
16 November 2012
Published in October 2012 by the Leadership Learning Community, Leadership and Networks: New Ways of Developing Leadership in a Highly Connected World is written for those who run and fund leadership programmes that develop and support leadership for social change. The report aims to inspire and help leadership programmes to question their assumptions about the traditional leadership models and retool their approaches in ways that will enable them to better prepare those in leadership with the mindset and skills they will need to more fully leverage network strategies.More
06 October 2012
As part of the Leadership for a New Era (LNE) initiative – a collaborative research initiative that seeks to promote more inclusive, networked and collective leadership models – the Leadership Learning Community (LLC) has generated a series of “how to” guides for leadership programme staff.
The guides, which can be read separately or as an interconnected series, offer recommendations on three key topics: How to use action learning to achieve your results; How to recruit to maximize the value of your cohort; and How to cultivate and activate your network.More
21 May 2012
My Healthy Organization (MHO) Social Service Assessment Tool was developed by RoadMap, a
US-based consultancy network that provides capacity-building support to social justice
organizations and movements. The tool is designed to integrate social justice and movement-building
values into organizational effectiveness benchmarks. It also aims to promote learning opportunities
for the organizations (and thus increase organizational development capacity "on the ground")
through providing detailed process and next-steps guidelines.
A professional field in formation?
The role of practitioners' behaviour in facilitating change
Schein, E.H. (1998) Process consultation revisited: Building the helping relationship, Prentice Hall Organizational Development Series, Addison-Wesley