Action Plan for Moira Laidlaw, September 2006
What is my Concern?
How can I support my VSO colleagues as we work together to promote sustainable development, combat disadvantage and poverty and move towards empowerment?
What are the reasons for my concern?
á My contract is short-term. Monitoring and Evaluation and AR are the explicit processes outlined in my contract, but it's bigger than that, given the nature of M&E and AR. Both are open-ended, values-driven processes, which cannot be fully defined through documentation or in the length of time I have. They can only be fully realized through action with people over time. And time is something I don't have a lot of! So, how to make anything I do here sustainable? That worries me. Having faith in the ability of others, however, relieves this pressure.
á I am also assisting in the development of PAR documentation, and I want to ensure that I give this the required attention.
á Scrutiny of the documentation reveals that processes are not always as advanced as the ideas. I need to be able to isolate weaknesses in the M&E systems (documentation and processes) as well as build up the necessary relationships with others to make the processes we are working on sustainable.
á There is a huge range of talent and expertise in the office. How to support such a diverse set of individuals and groups to the maximum benefit of our shared values?
á Some concerns about whether transparency in terms of joining the micro to the macro is sufficiently taken into account during the facilitation of processes – designing data-collection methods, for example.
á I would like to have some follow-through from office-training sessions for volunteers and partners, that there is a shared clarity around certain processes – data-collection and assimilation, for example. Time is so short!
What can I do to improve the quality of my support?
á Talk to people. Through AR enquiries of others, which I am facilitating, I will come closer to an understanding of how I can support them.
á Close liaison with Guozhi, asking him to give me feedback on what 'support' should mean for a POBV and monitoring my progress through our 1:1s.
á Asking for feedback from others, not only in the office, but from Jack at Bath University, whose experience in AR will benefit me in terms of logic, feasibility, transparency, etc.
á Discussions with key-people about the content of my contract – i.e. M&E programme progress (PAR).
á Adherence to VSO's code of conduct for office behaviour, aims and so on. Keep a close eye on whether my work-progress is clearly in line with VSO policy, contract etc. Ask others.
á Be consistently helpful and friendly, open and listen to the needs of others. Office-harmony is a HUGE aspect of productivity and people feeling happy and settled. Part of my support, as the POBV, is to do what I do with the right spirit. I am here to support.
Who can help me and how?
The above people, by offering constructive feedback on my performance; by contradicting where necessary; and by helping me to become more familiar with areas I may be weak on – some documentation, VSO precedents, ways of working, etc; by showing their understanding of my supportive role through assigning me appropriate areas of activity to further the aims and outcomes of VSO as highlighted in my question above; ARers will tell me how better to facilitate their enquiries and be pro-active on their own behalf.
How will I know my support has improved?
á Sustainability: When I leave, people will be generating their own processes to promote sustainability in those areas of M&E and AR.
á Greater clarity between micro and macro in VSO China. This will show through follow-through between conversations, policy, implementation, partnership implementation, volunteer understanding about aims, and target population satisfaction.
á Greater clarity about some data-collection methods;
á Narratives of learning that show the influence of VSO volunteers in relation to their own values, the vision of VSO and the learning of those they are working with.