Emma Proud: Mainstreaming Adaptive Management into Mercy Crops

“In complexity every program struggles… In the programs where decision-making is sat near the information (sources), that’s where they were most successful”

Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organisation. They work in country contexts that have undergone, or have been undergoing, various forms of economic, environmental, social, and political instabilities. Like Adapt Peacebuilding, Mercy Corps is putting adaptive management at the heart of their work, with a focus on their people management function. Adaptive management – defined as “an intentional approach to making decisions and adjustments in response to new information and changes in context” – helps Mercy Corps to be more effective in complex, unpredictable environments.

This week we speak with the leader of this work - Emma Proud – Mercy Corps’ Director of Organizational Agility. She is working on ways to increase organisational agility so all 400 Mercy Corps programmes are enabled and encouraged to be adaptive.

Highlights from our conversation include a discussion of:

  1. Mercy Corp’s training models that incorporate neuroscience research and SCARF – a brain-based model for collaborating and learning with others,

  2. Their “Adapt Scan” process, which identifies factors that enable and inhibit adaptive actions, and

  3. Deep learning from their Navigating Complexity and Adapting Aid research processes.

We also share experiences about USAID’s collaborate, learn, adapt initiative, which has an adaptive management podcast and program management tools that you should check out.