Adaptive Management (AM) is a form of organizing work in which the focus is on learning from the context and adapting your approach to the given context as you learn about it and as the context changes. This is different from the typical approach that establishes a plan at the beginning.

This is important because many practitioners are interested in “complexity.” When working in a given conflict, often practitioners don’t have a lot of information about the needs of the community, the variables, the changes that will occur, etc. A predetermined plan won’t usually work. Practitioners should be “responsibly experimental” and learn as they try new solutions to conflict.

Some of the key elements of this conversation were:

  • Donors- how to work with concerns around accountability; risk adverse-- issues with taking on an adaptive approach that changes and securing long term partnerships with donors who trust in the process

  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and how this changes in adaptive management, which is a more flexible approach

  • Rules of thumb for when to use adaptive management approach and when the traditional style is appropriate

  • The importance of telling good stories

  • Establishing relationships (both vertical and horizontal) in the context you’re working in

  • Larger shift in peacebuilding and development systems to adopt adaptive management approaches

Check out Duncan’s blog: From Poverty to Power