Making planning more adaptive

In the Natural Resource Mangement (NRM) sector, there’s a patchy, inadequate mish-mash of systems to monitor outcomes, an obsessive interest in counting activities and expenditure, and precious little time spent extracting learning from the experience of implementing actions from the plan, of which figures describe just one slice.

Why doesn’t NRM do better on this? It’s not just because there is precious little time, but because the culture of NRM doesn’t have a set of legitimate, valued and argued out practices around learning from action. Working recently on design of a workshop to cultivate adaptive management in the NRM world, I suggested that “the problem is not keeping records, it’s the lack of a culture of inquiry.”

It seems to me that to improve how we learn from action, and through that, improve how we design new action, we ought to open up inquiry (period) and in particular, into strengths and weaknesses in the ways we do (or don’t) currently learn from action. The would provide a grounded start to ( to use Etienne Wenger’s felicitous phrase) design for learning.

For a draft design for conducting such a review activity, see The next step in adaptive management in NRM.

For a recent note on the place of review in planning in Landcare groups, go here.