CARE Failing Forward
Study, analyze, adjust quickly: the Bihar Technical Support Program’s concurrent measurement and learning approach

Study, analyze, adjust quickly: the Bihar Technical Support Program’s concurrent measurement and learning approach

January 19, 2021

Dr. Tanmay Mahapatra and Dr. Shridhar Srikantiah from CARE India’s Bihar Technical Support Program explain how they use data to catch failures and make adjustments in real time with their Concurrent Measurement and Learning approach. Learn more at: bihar.care.org

Data in the time of COVID

Data in the time of COVID

November 12, 2020

Clement Bisai from CARE Malawi talks about what he and his team are learning about how to do better remote data collection. Focus, listen to communities, and reflect regularly are his key takeaways. Don't expect to outsource everything. Digital remote data collection may be the best way to work in COVID-19, but we're already learning how to do it better.

Undocumented and Unafraid: Rethinking Vulnerability

Undocumented and Unafraid: Rethinking Vulnerability

September 30, 2020

Find out why Randy Villegas from UC Santa Cruz is rethinking is definition of vulnerability when it comes to undocumented youth in California. They certainly face extreme challenges, but what he has seen youth organizers do in the context of COVID-19 has Randy wondering, "what if it's elected officials who are vulnerable if youth keep being activist?" Learn more from Randy's work with young people, and lessons like "you need to be there even when it's not an election year," "stop the flyover organizing," and "youth are brutally honest."

The Power of Risk: Contingency Plans, Relationships, and other lessons from COVID

The Power of Risk: Contingency Plans, Relationships, and other lessons from COVID

September 17, 2020

Deyanira Nevarez Martinez from UC Irvine talks about the challenges of doing research in COVID-19, and the importance of contingency and risk management planning. How would you plan if you thought everything might go wrong? What are your alternatives for each step of your process? When COVID-19 turned everything upside down, Deyanira talks about strategies for moving research forward. Deya's research is in California, but she's got advice that can apply for everyone in the world.

Designing Data Systems in Crisis: Act Quickly, Iterate Fast, and Think to the Future

Designing Data Systems in Crisis: Act Quickly, Iterate Fast, and Think to the Future

April 20, 2020

Jay Goulden talks about designing a data system to collect information on pandemic response in 78 countries--a first for CARE. He says act quickly, iterate fast, and think what your system might need to be in two weeks or a month as the situation evolves. He also talks about reducing burdens on over-taxed staff, streamlining systems, and connecting data collection to data use. Oh--and make it beautiful to look at.

Just Live It: How to learn from failure in the conservation sector

Just Live It: How to learn from failure in the conservation sector

February 27, 2020

Iain Dickson from Birdlife talks about his project, "Embracing Failures" which is developing a failure taxonomy that helps conservation organizations learn about the underlying causes of failure. What can we do to get better at learning from failure? "Just live it," says Iain. "We think about it as a complex overarching problem, but many of the solutions are simple." One of the key solutions they found was that there's appetite to talk about failure, but it works best when this is a conversation, and not an exercise filling out forms.

Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Participation and Independence in Evaluations

Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Participation and Independence in Evaluations

January 29, 2020

Kylie Hutchinson, independent evaluator and author of three books about evaluation and program planning: Evaluation Failures: 22 Tales of Mistakes Made and Lessons LearnedA Short Primer on Innovative Evaluation Reporting, and Survive and Thrive: Three Steps to Securing Your Program’s Sustainability talks about how to learn from common evaluation failures to improve impact and social justice. Her two tips are learning how to engage stakeholders more effectively and understand context when you're doing an evaluation. Here are three questions to ask yourself before launching an evaluation: 1) What are we trying to learn? 2) What are we going to do about the answers? 3) When do we need to know?

If you want to learn more, you can read a free chapter in the book here, or find some tips on how to find evaluators here: http://evaluationforleaders.org

 

Answering Practical Questions Instead of Academic Ones: How to design research that makes more sustainable programming

Answering Practical Questions Instead of Academic Ones: How to design research that makes more sustainable programming

January 9, 2020

Learning to be less dogmatic about answering the most important academic questions, but instead focus on the practical questions that would allow project teams to "innovate and push" around creating sustainable programs for WASH in schools. Matt Freeman from Emory University and Peter Lochery from CARE talk about what they learned trying to create research that moved programs forward, and allowed us to get better at the work--even when it wouldn't contribute to publications in prestigious journals. They talk about 13 years of research partnership in the SWASH+ project--and how lots of smaller, practical studies with rigorous methods were more useful than one big RCT.

9 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong: Lessons from Global Cash Programming

9 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong: Lessons from Global Cash Programming

December 4, 2019

Holly Radice--CARE's Global Cash and Voucher Assistance Advisor--talks about the most common mistakes she sees when people implement cash programming. Some of her tips? Pay attention to GBV, focus on women and engage men, and most of all--don't be afraid of cash! There are lots of resources that can help you get it right.

Design For Everyone, Not for Experts

Design For Everyone, Not for Experts

October 30, 2019

"You need to design for real people, not for experts." "Be ruthless with what you really need, and what's just nice to have" Isadora Quay from CARE's Gender and Emergencies work discusses CARE's Gender Marker, and all of the attempts it took to get to a tool that would actually work for the organization, not just the experts. It's about building tools that can turn everyone into a gender champion, and not tools that contain everything. The other secret? Design on a napkin!

Square Pegs and Round Holes: Fitting research to community needs

Square Pegs and Round Holes: Fitting research to community needs

October 16, 2019

Anne Sprinkel and Dipendra Sharma from CARE's Tipping Point project talk about the challenges in implementing RCTs, and the risk of sacrificing communities' needs to the methodological rigor that researchers demand. "Make sure you have a good reason for doing an RCT," says Sprinkel. Sharma adds, "Start with good programming, then build research around it." They also have some great tips for managing expectations, clear communication, and just how long it takes to do it right (Hint: it's a lot longer than you think).

Embracing Imperfection: Rapid Gender Analysis and Knowing You Don’t Have All the Answers

Embracing Imperfection: Rapid Gender Analysis and Knowing You Don’t Have All the Answers

September 12, 2019

Isadora Quay talks about the process of developing CARE's Rapid Gender Analysis, and how embracing imperfection is key to saving lives. When we want everything to be perfect, that often means we delay or prevent sharing any information at all, which can be catastrophic in humanitarian (and development) settings. Making tools useful for a broader range of people, and focusing on practical, tangible suggestions, and analyzing results in plain language for non-experts are some key lessons to take forward. "Act fast, there's a huge need for real information in real time." Isadora argues that failure is inevitable, so we need to learn not to prevent it, but to manage it and learn from them.

Soyez Courageux et Realiste: Le lecons pour la creation des projets qui marche

Soyez Courageux et Realiste: Le lecons pour la creation des projets qui marche

August 28, 2019

Yawo Douvon et Barbara Jean Claude de CARE Haiti discute l'importance d'avoir le courage de dire quelque chose ne marche pas. Il faut du courage pour expliquer que les objectives ne sont pas realiste, et que nous risquons de ne pas tout accomplir. Avoir l'analyse du context--meme dans les cas d'urgence--le renforcement des rapports avec les bailleurs, la suivi des indicateurs, et la communcation sont tous les outils qui peuvent vous aider.

Be Bold and Realistic: Creating space for project plans that will work

Be Bold and Realistic: Creating space for project plans that will work

August 22, 2019

Yawo Douvon and Barbara Jean-Claude from Haiti talk about the importance of being bold when it comes to admitting that something won't work. It takes courage to point out that goals and expectations are unrealistic, and that we might not get everything done. Getting good context analysis--even in emergencies--building solid donor relationships, carefully monitoring data, and being proactive in communications when something goes off track are all tips that can help you through a rocky project implementation. (French version will be coming the week of August 26th.)

The Learning From Failure Report: A Systemic Look at What Goes Wrong

The Learning From Failure Report: A Systemic Look at What Goes Wrong

May 20, 2019

Katie Pons from CARE talks about a current research effort to learn from what goes wrong based on CARE's evaluations. Using a qualitative analysis program called MAXQDA, Katie and her colleagues have been doing a meta-analysis to give us a more structured way to talk about failure, not just case by case, but in the broader systems sense. Listen to the podcast, and then tell us what reports you would like to see from this data set. Shout out in the comments, or e-mail ejanoch@care.org.

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