The review of SP 2016 was designed primarily to be a learning process in which EECMY-DASSC would come with fresh perspectives and new knowledge. The new learning/ knowledge shall then feed into design of the new strategy. Thus, while the review dedicated a significant amount of time to look into the past, it has equally invested a considerable amount of energy in exploring implications of that past and lessons for the new strategy. The approaches were participatory and inclusive of all stakeholders such as beneficiaries, staff, management team, board members, church leaders, donor partners and other stakeholders including government and NGOs. IIRR has employed two inter-related approaches: Appreciative Inquiry and Participatory Learning and Reflection to formulate the strategy.
Appreciative Inquiry seeks to find out what has worked well at EECMY-DASSC in order to create a better future. This shift from problem solving to what is working well is based on the belief that ‘what we focus on becomes our reality’. In this approach, challenges and problems were not ignored, rather addressed from a more constructive perspective. In this respect, the central question was not: “What problems were faced?”, rather “What worked well/ is working well?”, “what did we achieve”, “What were the contributing factors” and “What can we do more/ less of and how?” The latter question in particular not only brings out challenges but also focuses on what can be done about it going forward. Appreciative inquiry is thus premised on the idea that people have more confidence and comfort to journey to the future when they carry forward parts of the past, particularly those that are working very well. We will in this regard deliberately seek out success stories and thereafter identify what EECMY-DASSC needs to do (lessons, recommendations) in the next strategy period to sustain or build on noted successes.
The second approach, Participatory Learning and Reflection, seeks to maximize leadership (board, management) staff, partner, community and other stakeholder engagement. A series of internal reflection and learning processes with staff on performance of the five-year strategic plan was facilitated by the IIRR team. In the process, the participants did not only just talk to IIRR team about implementation of the strategic plan but also talk to each other about what they learnt. Discussions were also held with management to ensure that they too have an opportunity to reflect and learn as part of the process. Outside of the organization, IIRR collected feedback from a wide range of stakeholders including partners, government line offices, collaborating communities, and peer organizations.