How is CLA practiced?

Learning Lab hosts a number of resources and examples that showcase how CLA has been used in practice. To start, visit the following pages:

  • Case Competition: Information about the CLA Case Competition, which captures real-life examples of USAID staff and partners using CLA approaches to achieve better development results
  • Case Map: Collection of CLA case studies submitted to the CLA Case Competition and published on Learning Lab
  • CLA Evidence Dashboard: An interactive, visual platform that presents a growing and comprehensive body of evidence on the impact of CLA

What is CLA?

Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) is a set of practices that help us improve our development effectiveness. Learning has always been part of USAID’s work, and most USAID missions and implementing partners are already practicing CLA in some way. Our aim now is to make CLA more systematic and intentional throughout the Program Cycle, and to dedicate the resources necessary to make it happen.

According to USAID’s Program Cycle guidance (ADS 201.3.7), “Strategic collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptive management link together all components of the Program Cycle.” Integrating CLA into our work helps to ensure that our programs are coordinated with others, grounded in a strong evidence base, and iteratively adapted to remain relevant throughout implementation. The systematic application of CLA approaches, led by people who have the knowledge and resources to carry them out, enables USAID to be an effective learning organization and thereby a more effective development organization.

In the simplest terms, integrating collaborating, learning, and adapting throughout the Program Cycle can help development practitioners address the above challenges by thinking through:

  • Collaborating: Are we collaborating with the right partners at the right time to promote synergy over stove-piping?
  • Learning: Are we asking the most important questions and finding answers that are relevant to decision making?
  • Adapting: Are we using the information that we gather through collaboration and learning activities to make better decisions and make adjustments as necessary?
  • Enabling Conditions: Are we working in an organizational environment that supports our collaborating, learning, and adapting efforts?