A series of videos were created for a new CGAP training course to help explain different aspects of understanding systemic change programmes and helping to manage them.
This one questions on three levels – institutional arrangements, organisational performance, and individual capabilities.
Anyone can adopt a systemic approach, but the institutional arrangements, between the funder and the implementer, play a big role in how successful it might be. Incentives are key here : give the implementer enough room to be flexible but make sure they are ambitious – much of which can be determined by results frameworks.
At an organisational level, hiring a trust, an NGO, or contractors: there’s no right answer. Trusts have long term visions which can be useful but often lower levels accountability to donors. NGOs too are a permanent fixture but they struggle to adapt their approach if most of their work is not systemic. Contractors can be efficient, but for most, the incentives are entirely financial. A top tip is to seek references – many M4P programmes go wrong and there can be organisational reasons why. It is no coincidence that different funders have had very similar experiences with the same contractor or NGO in different contexts. Recruitment processes, performance incentives, and management attention to quality can be organisation-wide issues which are replicated across contexts.
But don’t just look at the organisation as there’s a lot of freelance work done in market development. Focus on the individuals, their understanding of context, and how the organisational support and institutional arrangements will affect the programme.
Finally at an individual level, you need a range of skills. Entrepreneurship, analysis, communication and others. A top tip would be not to focus on the length of the CV but, just like in M4P, to test whether things work in practice. This can be both in the recruitment process but also in testing whether people can perform and allow them to stand out. Start off with relatively flat organisational structures and allow those who demonstrate the complex and unique set of skills needed for market development to emerge.