Objective 3.3

Organizational learning for results

  • OCHA developed and rolled out new processes to address audit findings, resulting in a 50 per cent increase in the closure rate for outstanding recommendations.
     
  • New policy instructions implemented to strengthen OCHA’s evaluation function and its guidance management system. Results of evaluations and existing guidance made more easily accessible to OCHA staff through evaluation synthesis reports and a new OCHA Guidance Forum on OCHA’s Intranet
     
  • Standardized performance frameworks for OCHA country and regional offices developed and launched, linking recurrent evaluation findings to planning. All field offices complete frameworks and detailed strategies as part of 2012-13 planning in autumn 2011.
     
  • A course on constructive performance dialogue was created to help managers and supervisors enhance performance management.

OCHA has increasingly emphasized the importance of organizational learning. By the end of 2009, several important measures had been taken in this area. They included the introduction of independent evaluations commissioned by OCHA’s Senior Management Team (SMT); a guidance system for OCHA staff in key areas of work; a strategic planning and reporting system; OCHA-specific training programmes; and the development of OCHAnet as a knowledge management system. Theyhelped to clarify policies and standards and keep a focus on priorities, but serious shortfalls were identified, particularly in coordinating resources and linking different systems. There were concerns that lessons learned from evaluations were not being used to influence strategic planning, and that proper guidance for OCHA staff was not being integrated into training programmes.

Responding to these shortcomings, OCHA in 2010 outlined a four-year strategy. The main aims are to: 1) set consistent expectations on results-based achievements for managers, their teams and individual staff members; 2) communicate expected results through better integrated planning, guidance and training systems based on lessons learned; 3) provide a basis for performance monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

Over the past two years, OCHA has successfully made audits and evaluations more strategic and effective. Guidance is also more accessible and targeted, with OCHA staff training adapted to better suit organizational needs. New performance frameworks were implemented at the field level to better focus on recurrent areas of underperformance, and to measure OCHA’s progress in achieving the key results outlined in its Strategic Framework and prioritized by the IASC Transformative Agenda.

Since early 2010, OCHA’s new evaluation policy has helped generate independent feedback on strategic issues, increase management accountability and strengthen internal evaluation. Internal evaluations were completed, or underway, on OCHA’s corporate response in Haiti, OCHA’s role in civil-military coordination and on the work of OCHA’s Regional Office in West and Central Africa. The findings from these evaluations are now subject to a formal SMT review, while agreed management actions are tracked and incorporated into annual workplanning. Two reports were issued to combine findings and lessons from all OCHA-commissioned evaluations, including the 2010-2011 “Lessons Learned Report” and the “OCHA Evaluation Biannual Report”.

Responding to gaps in OCHA performance and the requirements of the Strategic Framework, OCHA has sought to simplify and improve its Guidance Management System while also using an accessible interactive Guidance Forum on its Intranet. OCHA also conducted a major consultative effort to rationalize and clarify its footprint in the field. This is expected to lead to a new policy on OCHA’s field presence in 2012, replacing the 2010 policy.

Following the introduction of an audit-and-evaluation database in 2010, senior management now has greater oversight on ensuring that outstanding recommendations are taken onboard and aligned with broader strategic planning. These efforts have already been successful, with audit implementation rates rising from 37 to 92 per cent.

OCHA developed standardized performance frameworks by identifying the recurrent lessons and challenges crucial to ensuring the delivery of better coordination services across operations, as well as key results and success indicators. All field offices completed these frameworks as part of their 2012-13 planning efforts. They reflect the most recent policy guidance. The new system also focused more on common risks to achieving results and the actions required to mitigate them. Detailed country and regional strategies were simultaneously introduced to provide greater contextual analysis and to communicate each office’s priorities and plans. The standardized performance framework is expected to improve trends analysis and provide the platform for offices to report on applying the IASC Transformative Agenda over the next two years.

A learning strategy was drafted as an interim step towards developing an organizational learning strategy in 2012. Drawing on the latest guidance and priority learning issues, OCHA continued to update its Humanitarian Field Coordination Programme (HFCP). This has benefited over 400 staff members since 2009. Other learning initiatives include the Constructive Performance Dialogue course for managers and supervisors; the Performance Management and Development for Supervisors and Managers course; the OCHA-sponsored Management Development Programme in Nairobi; and the second edition of the OCHA Induction Programme for new staff.

OCHA field staff benefited from writing courses and e-learning courses run by other agencies. A compendium of training courses for OCHA staff was uploaded onto OCHA’s Intranet. OCHA set up Communities of Practice (CoPs) in some initial areas, including information management and reporting. OCHA is investing in increased use of CoPs, including in identifying and sharing best practices, starting in 2012.

Performance Framework 2011
OUTPUT Monitoring and reporting of OCHA performance standardized and improved.
INDICATOR

Standard performance framework for country offices developed and rolled out for 2012 planning cycle.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Performance frameworks completed by all offices as part of 2012-13 planning.

OUTPUT Learning from evaluations and other relevant audits and reviews integrated into programmes.
INDICATOR

SMT agreed management-response matrices for all internally and externally mandated evaluations within three months of completion.

Two analytical reports highlight key learning from evaluations and other relevant audits and reviews and feed into OCHA planning cycle.

Fifty per cent of outstanding audit recommendations closed by end of 2011.

ACHIEVEMENTS

The Gender Review Management Response Matrix (MRM) was finalized in June 2011, and recommendations are now being implemented. The Haiti internal evaluation MRMwas submitted to and endorsed by the SMT in August. It has been in the process of implementation since then. The MRP is posted on the OCHAEvaluation Website.

“OCHA Evaluations Synthesis Report” and “Biannual Report of the OCHA Evaluation and Guidance Section 2009-2010” are available online (http://www.unocha.org/what-we-do/policy/thematic-areas/evaluations-of-hu...). Risk reports were disseminated in advance of 2012-13 planning process for integration into eachstrategic objective.

Ninety-two per cent of outstanding audit recommendations closed.

OUTPUT Development of learning strategy.
INDICATOR

Learning strategy endorsed by Q3.

At least one new training module designed based on learning strategy priorities.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Staff development and learning strategy was drafted as stepping stone to organizational learning strategy. Due to be completed in 2012.

Constructive Performance Dialoguecourse developed and delivered to supervisors in the field in accordance with HR strategy. Fifteen OCHA field staff have participated in online effective writing modules offered on a one-time pilot basis from UNHCR. One OCHA staff member based in Sudan has participated in a distance-learning course on effective writing from WHO.

OUTPUT OCHA field staff trained onsite and through distance-learning methodologies.
INDICATOR

At least 100 staff trained through the HFCPand 30 staff trained in client services programme, reflecting geographical and gender balance.

ACHIEVEMENTS

105 OCHA staff participated in the HFCP, and 25 staff participated in the Constructive Performance Dialogue distance-learning course.

OUTPUT Active dissemination of existing OCHA policy guidance.
INDICATOR

Dissemination strategy developed by Q1, with two regional and six country offices covered by Q4.

ACHIEVEMENTS

OCHA’s policy guidance summarized and made more easily available to all staff through the Guidance Forum on OCHAnet, including through a Google search function. The Guidance section now features more prominently on OCHAnet. Staff are reminded of its existence regularly through e-mails from the USG when new policy guidance is issued.