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How to capture and share your good practices in order to generate change?

What is a good practice?

A good practice is a successful experience that has been tested and replicated in different contexts and can therefore be recommended as a model. It deserves to be shared so that a great number of people can adapt and adopt it.

Why document and share good practices?

By documenting and sharing good practices, a team, an organization or a country can learn from their own experiences and from others. They can turn this knowledge into action and develop their capacities to improve their results, and respond more quickly and effectively to different changes that may arise.

If no action is taken to analyse, capitalize and share the knowledge gained in programmes and projects, mistakes will likely be repeated, successful experiences may be forgotten and opportunities for improved practices may be lost.

Evolution of a good practice

A practice often evolves through four stages. At the start, a potential innovation carried out as a pilot or an initial new technique or technology shows minimal evidence of results. After being tested several times in a specific context, it becomes a promising practice; i.e. a practice that is successful in its specific context, but represents a risk if applied in a different context. Finally, when it has proven to be successful through various replications in multiple contexts, the practice may be qualified as a good practice and may be widely shared to be adapted and adopted by others. In some cases, a good practice can evolve to be institutionalized, for example when it becomes the basis on which a policy or a norm is formulated.

In order to capture a good practice, it is necessary to initiate the documentation process at the earliest stages when the practice is still a potential innovation.

What is the process to capturing and sharing a good practice?

Step 1: Identify the practice and frame the process

 Before starting to document a good practice, you need to identify the practice you wish to focus on, and frame the process you will follow, by addressing these key questions:

  • What? (Identify which experience/practice you will focus on?
  • Why? (Define the purpose of the documentation process)
  • Who for? (Understand the needs of your target audience)
  • With whom? (Identify which stakeholders will participate)
  • When? (Set a timeframe for the process) 

When identifying your practice, remember to look at the level of evidence available about it and to identify its potential for replication.

And finally, you must plan approximately how you will proceed to document and share the practice by specifying the actions to be taken, who will be in charge, a timeline and any budget that may be required.

Tools that you may use for step 1 include: 

Framing the process

A template with guiding questions to frame the process of documenting a good practice

Action plan

A template to define actions to be taken to go through the process

Step 2: Gather and organize information regarding the good practice

Once you have identified and framed your practice, you will need to gather and organize all the required information to document the practice. It should include at least the context and objective of the practice, the stakeholders involved, the methodological approach, the results, and the success factors and constraints. It should also explain how the practice is sustainable and what should be considerate for the practice to be adapted, adopted and scaled up.

Ideally, data collection should start at the beginning of the implementation of the practice and continue throughout its testing.

Tools that you may use for step 2 include: 

Good practice template

A template with predefined sections and guiding questions to help in writing the content step by step and to make sure important information is not left out

Step 3: Analyse the good practice’s results

Documenting a good practice is not describing the good results that were achieved, but explaining how and why the activities were successful. It is a critical step as it will help others to understand the key success factors and how to replicate the good practice in their own context. You should not analyse the results alone, but rather reflect with different stakeholders using participatory methods (e.g. After Action Review, Most Significant Change, Fishbone Diagram, etc.).

Step 4: Document and prepare to communicate

Once you have collected all the relevant information and are able to explain how and why it is a good practice, you will select the most appropriate format and document your practice. Keep in mind that a good practice can be documented in different ways, not only through written products. For example, a short video may more convey effectively your message than a long document; or a radio programme may reach rural communities with no internet access.

However, even for an audio, visual, video or web product, you will have to go through a writing step (e.g. writing a script for a radio programme or a theatre performance). Writing takes time and it is important to identify who will be responsible of writing the first draft, providing feedback on the content, proofreading and editing, and designing the final layout.

Tools that you may use for step 4 include:

Communication products

A matrix to help you choosing the most appropriate products to convey your message and reach your target audience

Writeshop

A face-to-face workshop with the specific objective of bringing relevant stakeholders together in order to write a document or publication collaboratively

Step 5: Share the good practice to generate change

Good practices are documented to be shared widely so that they can be adopted, adapted and scaled-up. It is therefore extremely important to select the most appropriate channels to reach your targeted audiences.

A good practice can be shared through many different channels:

  • Conventional channels: television, radio, distribution of printed document, etc.
  • Digital channels: email, social media, websites, online communities, blogs, etc.
  • Face-to-face: share fair, exchange visit, meeting, theatre play, etc.

Each channel has its own advantages. Some offer a fast way to reach many people, others allow more interactions and receiving feedback. Consider sharing different products through different types of channels to be sure to reach all your targeted audiences.

Tools that you may use for step 5 include: 

Communication channels

A matrix to help you choosing the most appropriate channels to convey your message and reach your target audience

Generating change

The ultimate goal of the good practice process is not only to publish and share good practices, but to generate change through the adoption, adaptation and scaling up of these good practices. Therefore it is important to plan, from the beginning of the process, how the impact of sharing the good practice will be monitored and evaluated.

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