In September 2017 CTA collaborated with the Dutch embassy in Ethiopia in a one-week workshop on experience capitalization. This workshop had a strong focus on the analysis, which can be replicated in other settings.
In other workshops, we usually only introduce the analysis as a fourth step in the experience capitalization workshop. In Ethiopia, we started talking about it on the very first day, in the very first session. As we got to know each other and the projects everyone was working on, we gathered a list of goals for what participants want to achieve in their work. Answers such as nutrition security, sustainability or inclusiveness later served as the starting point for each person’s analysis: their criteria for success or failure. Every analysis, looking at whether an experience was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (or successful or unsuccessful), starts with defining the criteria with which we want to judge the experience. Was the project ‘good’ in terms of nutrition security? Or was the project ‘good’ in terms of inclusiveness? Giving participants this focus from the start of the workshop was one of the reasons why their grasp of doing an analysis was quite good.
We also used the field visit on day three of the five-day workshop to specifically focus on the analysis, which worked really well. Before we went to visit the smallholder dairy project, we talked about which criteria from their own list from day one would be useful. In small groups participants focused on two criteria to look for in the field, focusing on ‘why’ it had been successful, or ‘why not’. The answers were visibly presented and briefly discussed the next day. Doing a collective analysis on one case known to all participants helped improve their understanding of this step in experience capitalization, including the common mistakes and difficulties we all encounter.
In addition, the stories participants wrote during the workshop also used the analysis as a starting point. In Ethiopia, the intended outputs were very short stories (500-600 words). The idea was to start writing thinking about their Unique Selling Point, or the most important lessons they were able to draw from their analysis. Then participants tried to only add the bits of information from their experience capitalization tables that added to building their argument for why the experience was ‘good’ or ‘bad’; why it was sustainable, inclusive, or had a big impact in terms of nutrition security. This approach helped to change the ‘normal’ way of writing, where we all start to write in detail about the project, the funders, all the activities – and then run out of time or space to write about what really matters: what we actually learned from all of this.