2.6 Putting it together: Planning for change

Planning for real results requires thinking critically about desired change and what is required to bring it about. The process involves asking a series of questions:

  • What precisely do we want to see changed?
  • How will this change occur? What will make change happen?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What resources are needed?
  • What conditions need to be in place, and what will influence these conditions?
  • How will we monitor and evaluate the changes?
  • How will we use the information obtained from monitoring and evaluation?

The process should define all the building blocks required to bring about the desired long-term goal, and monitor and evaluate the extent to which progress is being made. Done in this manner, planning can become a powerful process that helps to:

  • Achieve stakeholder consensus and commitment
  • Communicate clearly with all stakeholders about the desired changes
  • Motivate actions and mobilize resources
  • Better define all the internal and external resources and partnerships needed to achieve results
  • Better understand the interests, needs and concerns of different groups of stakeholders, including men, women and traditionally marginalized groups
  • Set clearer performance indicators for monitoring and evaluation
  • Allocate responsibilities

Box 18. Recap of key considerations in planning for results

  • Planning should be focused on results—real development changes that help to improve people’s lives. It should not be done merely to meet the requirements of supervisors or Headquarters.
  • Planning should always be seen as a process, of which the actual plan is only one product.
  • The planning process should extend beyond only looking at results and performance measures. It should include a plan and mechanisms for managing, monitoring and evaluating and well developed ideas for partnering and collaborating to achieve the desired results.
  • The planning process should be highly participatory and very open, and should encourage frankness, creativity, and innovation.
  • Planning must be guided by core principles of development effectiveness. It should not lead to a neutral or generic plan but one that is based on lessons of what works or does not work in development programming.
  • The most important outcomes of the planning process are: clarity on goals, objectives and a vision of the future; commitment and motivation of stakeholders; and clarity on the process to implement and manage the plan. The planning document can serve as a useful record of what has been agreed and a tool for communicating to new stakeholder.