The Accountability Lab works within complex systems with rapidly changing and evolving accountability dynamics. The Lab’s Learning Agenda seeks to help the organization adapt within these systems and improve by filling critical knowledge gaps impeding informed design and implementation decisions. The Learning Agenda approaches these gaps at three levels- in terms of impact, scale and sustainability. The idea is by using a simple tool of this sort, we can shift even further towards a culture of learning within our organization.

The focus is both on processes for learning and building a culture that supports active learning on a continual basis. The idea is that learning is not an end in itself but a means to improve everything we do; and that the activities are mutually reinforcing. More on the Lab’s approach to learning can be found in our 2017-2020 Strategy, to which this Learning Agenda is closely linked. We realize that this is just the beginning of longer-term effort to build a learning approach within our work.

This Agenda was developed in late 2017 after a strategic retreat with the Accountability Lab Country Directors and Board Chair in Tunis and a number of subsequent conversations with team members in Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, Mali and Nigeria, and with Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and accountability experts.

The Lab’s Programs and Learning Manager has overall responsibility for leading and coordinating these activities with the support of the Executive Director and the Strategy and Operations Manager. We will review progress through the Learning Agenda on an ongoing basis and reach out to peers and partners regularly as outputs are produced.

The process will begin with a light-touch learning assessment between January and March 2018 to better understand the processes, capacities that already exist related to learning within the Lab and the possible challenges to the agenda below (time, budget, skills).

Learning QuestionsSub-QuestionsKey Issues and Decision Points Activities/MilestonesLearning ProductsResources and Responsibilities
Does the Lab’s work make an impact?- What kinds of data would best aid our learning?
- How can the Lab better collect the right kinds of data?
- How do we ensure data is used to improve decision-making?
- How is our work impacting marginalized groups?
- Developing organizational and country level MEL plans in 2018;
- Learning survey in early 2018 will inform research path;
- Ongoing efforts to strengthen the Lab’s learning culture
- 1st draft of review by August 2018;
- Final draft by early December 2018;
- Changes implemented early 2019;
- Review of progress mid 2019
- Short report
- Blog
- Public learning call and podcasts
- Public discussion event
- Learning diaries and reflections to be shared internally and with public when applicable
New MEL Manager will take the lead;
Partnership with MIT;
Country level MEL officers and Fellows
Does it make sense to scale the Lab’s work?How do we understand - How do we understand scale for the various elements of the Lab’s work?
- What models exist for scaling work of this kind?
- Ongoing analysis of scale in relation to our strategy and growth
- Taking place within context of pivot of Accountability US vis-à-vis country teams
- Initial report completed by end of August 2018;
- Final analysis completed by October 2018
- Short report shared with the board;
- Blog;
- Podcast posted on website
- Executive Director will take the lead;
- Partnership with Deloitte;
- Country level inputs from staff and Fellows
Can the Lab generate revenue through its work?Do earned income streams - Do earned income streams exist for the Lab?
- How do we develop these streams most effectively?
- OpenGov Hub/iCampus will be fully operational in March 2018 and will provide revenue;
- Taking place within context of pivot of Accountability US vis-à-vis country teams;
- Analyze the impact of efforts to generate income on staff capacity and focus.
- Map revenue streams within other organizations in the field in August 2018;
- Initial analysis completed by end of September 2018;
- Final analysis completed by December 2018;
- Potential revenue models put in place in early 2019
- Short report shared with the board;
- Blog;
- Plan for ways forward
- Operations and Growth Manager will take the lead;
- Partnership with Deloitte;
- Country level input from staff and Fellows