The RDI Network functions as a key cross-sector platform for shared learning and action in the international development sector brings together practitioners, researchers, and evaluators. Approaching the midway point of a three-year program, the Network wanted to review and reflect on how the network was evolving, its current state and future potential. LDC Group consultants Anne Smyth and Lesley Thornton undertook this work.
The review was underpinned by appreciative inquiry principles designed to build on organisational strengths and identify opportunities and possibilities for growth and development. A variety of stakeholders were consulted to inform the assessment, identify network strengths and gaps, understand inhibitors and enablers, reflect on how the network was engaging with members and see what progress was being made toward achieving outcomes. We also assessed the effectiveness of the network’s operating model, progress against workplan activities and outcomes and lessons learned.
The methodology we used included: a rapid review of the literature on types of networks and what makes for an effective network, a review of RDI network documents, interviews with members of the network committee and secretariat and other key stakeholders such as the DFAT who fund the network, and a series of focus groups with network members from NGOs and Universities. The network members were drawn from different locations with diverse experiences and backgrounds.
This was a great example of the value that we as consultants can offer when we recognise and adapt our approach to fit with organisational purpose, culture, and stage of development. This helps to ensure the utility of recommendations and strategies offered so they are fit for purpose and make sense in the cultural, resource and environmental context. The success of our approach was evidenced in the RDI Network management published response to the Review which accepted or partially accepted all recommendations and outlined actions to progress those recommendations.