About the Project
The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Local Works program promotes locally-owned and led development by connecting local resources to local actors. It aims to pilot approaches and methods to strengthen local systems and networks, further testing the theory that increasingly capable networks of local actors can own and lead development.
About the Local Systems Practice Consortium
Under the Local Systems Practice (LSP) three-year activity (2017 – 2020), LINC leads a consortium of five organizations to directly assist USAID Missions and local actors in using systems-based approaches to address complex development challenges.
These approaches are intended to foster a deeper understanding of the overall system; the local constituents, their priorities and relationships within the system; and how a development activity or intervention changes the system over time.
The LSP Approach
Our consortium is a research-practice partnership (RPP) comprised of top academics and seasoned development practitioners. Our application of systems tools is guided by the most current developments in social science research and grounded in development experience.
LSP’s approaches draw from a variety of traditional social science disciplines including anthropology, sociology, and political science as well as an array of systems thinking tools including Social Network Analysis and Causal Loop Diagramming.
The LSP team works with USAID/Morocco, USAID/Philippines, and USAID/Macedonia. Each mission engagement is customized based on the needs of the mission.
LSP conducted an introduction to systems thinking training for intermediary support organizations (ISOs) for USAID/Morocco. The training introduced systems thinking methods and tools to USAID mission staff, as well as to ISOs already engaged by the mission as part of its Local Works programming.
LSP also conducted a Social Network Analysis (SNA) of the civil society sector for USAID/Macedonia in order to support the mission in identifying under-leveraged actors within the system.
LSP also completed two other engagements with USAID/Philippines, including a broad listening tour to identify development priorities and a Network Analysis of water management in the municipality of Tublay.
Systems Thinking Training for CSOs
The LSP training for CSOs provided 25 organizations with the thinking and the tools needed to look at challenges in a way that embraces complexity. This in-depth training shifted mindsets and provided CSOs with an opportunity to practice using systems approaches.
The LSP team developed a systems training course for 2 cohorts of CSOs from Latin America (14 organizations) and Asia (11 organizations).
Participants left sessions energized and with explicit plans to use the tools they learned in all three modules. In addition, training participants from both Asia and Latin America actively sought ways to continue building a systems thinking community of practice after the training concluded.
In a follow-up survey conducted 6-months after the end of the last training session:
- 97% of training participants report that systems thinking is useful or very useful for their work;
- 100% of training participants feel more able to design and implement solutions to local development challenges;
- 95% of training participants have used at least one of the systems thinking methods from the training in their organization/projects; and
- 62% of participants trained other individuals/organizations that did not attend the training.
LSP Partner Sites:
There is a pressing need to support the use of systems thinking methods and invest in capacity building for development actors. There is also continued recognition that traditional linear thinking is insufficient to address complex development challenges.
The LSP consortium has developed several resources under this activity. Please find them below:
LSP User’s Guide (Web Edition)
LSP User’s Guide (PDF)
Guide to listening for program design
LSP Research on Attributes of Local Systems Health (PDF)
Philippines Broad Listening Report
Philippines Social Network Analysis of Water Management in Tublay
Macedonia Social Network Analysis of Civil Society Organizations
Asia and Latin America LSP After Action Report
Morocco Systems Training After Action Report