Fundamentals of Strategic Advising in Reform Environments

  • Mark Downes Introduction Video

Developed in collaboration with the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), this course will help participants to develop skills as an effective advisor by providing practical recommendations and guidance on issues such as understanding the role of an advisor, working with local actors and functioning in complex environments. The course also includes a simulation exercise that recreates the various stages of an advisory function.

The course offers practical skills on how to effectively carry out advising functions. It also promotes a shift from executing a function as a practitioner, to taking on the role of an advisor who enables others to execute these functions. Practitioners will gain insight on how to become an effective advisor, how to identify issues that need to be addressed and how to engage with local actors. The course is concluded by a simulation exercise in which the participant will apply the newly required skills. The lessons included are:

  • The role of the advisor;
  • Working with local actors;
  • Assessing existing capacity and;
  • Functioning in a complex environment:

Course participants will gain:

  • An introduction to the role of the advisor in complex environments;
  • Skills for navigating cultural sensitivities and working with local actors; and
  • Key insights for assessing existing capacity and identifying gaps in capacity.

For further queries on the e-learning, please feel free to get in touch with us at elearning@issat.dcaf.ch.

N.B. The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well. 

You must be logged in to the Community of Practice in order to take the course. Please .

For further queries on the e-learning, please feel free to get in touch with us at elearning@issat.dcaf.ch

Course info

Target Audience

Designers of field initiatives, managers of country programmes and current/ future advisors who will be deployed outside their country of origin.

Duration

3-5 hours

Nota bene

The course works best in Google Chrome. However, other updated versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer can be used as well.

Licence
Attribution-ShareAlike

Navigation Instructions seen 1 of 1

Instructions for how to navigate the e-learning interface.

Welcome seen 2 of 2

Introduction to the course

Introductory Lesson - Contextualising Advising seen 10 of 10

The advisor's task is to build capacity and to assist in the identification of solutions for future success. Consequently, advisors help their counterparts develop systems that will enhance government institutions, allowing them to become more responsive to the needs of the population.

Lesson One - The Role of an Advisor seen 14 of 14

In Lesson One, the role of the advisor is discussed. First we will  focus on how you could externalize and sharpen the key attributes of an effective advisor. Second, we address the transformation from a practitioner to an advisor and what it implies. After completing this module, you will have a heightened awareness about which skills to capitalize on and which attributes you should think about displaying. All in all, you will become a supporter of change rather than the vector of it

Lesson Two - Working with Local Actors seen 16 of 16

Lesson Two is about engaging local actors. Part one of this lesson will explain how to establish a peer-to-peer relationship with your counterpart. In part two you will learn the guiding principles for giving advice and part three will discuss how to establish credibility and legitimacy with no authority. One crucial aspect of working with local actors is establishing yourself as a resource in order to ensure that your ideas are heard and most importantly, you will learn ways in which you can make your counterpart feel that he or she can come to you for advice.

Lesson Three - Assessing Existing Capacity and Identifying Gaps seen 12 of 12

In Lesson Three, we will discuss how to assess existing capacity and how to identify gaps. The gravest mistake reported by experienced advisors and officials who have worked with advisors is to assume that there is no capacity within your host government institution and counterparts. So advisors should always bear in mind that some level of capacity always exists and look for it even though it may be in a different shape or form to what you are familiar. Your task is to be able to identify this capacity and to build on it.

Lesson Four - Functioning in a Complex Environment seen 18 of 18

This final session, Lesson Four, will discuss how to function in a complex environment. The lesson is divided into two parts. Part one discusses the dilemmas and the trade offs an advisor is likely to face. Part two proposes techniques for coordination and highlights its importance. As an advisor, you will have to work with diverging and at times conflicting views and interests. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact that you will not have all the information required to make a sound judgment. Being aware of these complexities will help you to make better decisions on a case-by-case basis. You should acknowledge that you will not be able to make the most perfect decision but you should be able to make the least imperfect choice.

  • application/pdf

    Operational Guidance Note: The Security and Justice Reform Adviser

    This short reading published by the DCAF team in 2010 distinguishes the particular role of the advisor. The work of effective advisors, it concludes, is rooted in a passion for sustainable security, justice, and development, resulting in the ability to build trust and confidence, leading to influence. While this piece focuses on security and justice reform, it is applicable to advising in many sectors.

    File
  • application/pdf

    Emerging trends of research on transfer of learning

    Because a major component of effective strategic advising is sharing knowledge, an elicitive model can encourage sustainability. This short piece on the transfer of learning offers new ways of thinking about constructively sharing knowledge with your counterpart.

    File
  • application/pdf

    Strengthening participation for development results: a staff guide to consultation and participation

    This guide, from the development sector, offers concise and usable recommendations for cooperative engagement with local stakeholders. It includes advice for stakeholder assessment, participatory processes, and monitoring and evaluation techniques, among others.

    File
  • application/pdf

    The American Military Advisor: Dealing with Senior Foreign Officials in the Islamic World

    Author Michael J. Metrinko offers information applicable to all advisors (not only military) and to all contexts (not only Muslim). The paper provides a functional example of effective strategic advising and a good snapshot of the activities of an external strategic advisor.

    File
  • application/pdf

    14 Rules for Advisors in Iraq

    Author: Dr. Norman Ricklefs, an Australian civil servant, is the principal policy adviser to the Secretary General of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. He completed his PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

    File
  • application/pdf

    12 Urgent Steps for the Advisor Mission in Afghanistan

    Author: Captain Daniel Helmer, U.S. Army

    File
  • application/pdf

    Security Sector Reform in Tunisia

    Author: Querine Hanlon (USIP)

    File
  • application/pdf

    Inclusion or exclusion? Local ownership and Security Sector Reform

    In this document, Timothy Donais shows the importance of and offers tips for identifying a local solution and privileging the development of sustainable and viable approaches to issues that local actors wish to address.

    File
  • application/pdf

    Participatory monitoring and evaluation: Improving program performance while building capacity of local institutions

    This ten-page article concerns intentional, participatory monitoring and evaluation systems that help build capacity while at the same time recording data about the course and progress of a capacity-building project. The detailed methodology in this article offers valuable skills for engaging local partners that will serve you well in your role as an adviser.

    File
  • application/pdf

    Measuring capacity building

    This report, particularly Chapter 3, provides a helpful overview for how to measure capacity building. It includes a detailed review of indicators, indices, tools and challenges for measurement, the command of which will greatly improve the quality of your work as an advisor.

    File
  • application/pdf

    Empowering local peacebuilders: Strategies for effective engagement of local actors in peace operations

    This publication gives tried and true approaches to harness the capacity inherently present environment in the local environment. The collection of case studies offers an approach which is respectful and enables the trouble shooting and/or tweaking of existing procedures rather than starting over and implementing the “donor’s way” instead.

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  • application/pdf

    Developing capacity in fragile states

    This article specifically addresses the dilemmas and tradeoffs inherent to capacity building in complex environments, specifically fragile states. Author Derick Brinkerhoff presents dilemmas central to the process and explores their pros and cons in much the same way any advisor looking to make the best decision possible should do. The article is a valuable resource to advisors with insight from recurring dilemmas and tradeoffs.

    File
  • application/pdf

    A framework for improved coordination

    The recommended reading above will help you understand another approach to coordination of reform efforts. Working from experience, the authors of this report present a framework for the coordination of development efforts in transitioning countries. These ideas on avoiding duplication and collaboration should prove highly useful to your advising mission, whether you are directing coordination or under the direction of others.

    File
  • application/pdf

    The treasury approach to state-building and institution-strengthening assistance: Experience in Iraq and broader implications

    Former U.S. Treasury Attaché to Baghdad, Iraq and USIP visiting research scholar Jeremiah S. Pam presents advantageous strategies as well as key challenges that arose out of his own experience as an advisor in post-war Iraq.While based in the specific case of Iraq, the implications of the report are highly relevant to many stabilization situations, and especially salient to the needs and challenges of a strategic advisor. Appendices of the report present relevant policy recommendations for Kosovo, LIberia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Afghanistan.

    File

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Note for: Advisors? Mentors? Trainers? Or all of the above?

decisions on strategic level
Learning Note

Note for: Perspectives from peers: Mark Downes

UK- France different systems to ensure good democratic control (history, own culture)
not system but objective- greater democratic control of arm forces
what useful is not applicable ...
Institutions DO work
Learning Note

Note for: Promoting Capacity

Introduction, reputation formed, to deliver, holding commitmnets, be honest with counterparts
storytelling
Learning Note

Note for: Case Study: Erik Leklem

your reputation to move within limits
reputation with co-advisers
reputation- principles
What they are saying about you?
to establish reputation over time
Learning Note

Note for: Guiding Principles for Giving Advice

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect 3 principles
Learning Note

Note for: Local Ownership

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect- 3 principles
empower not substituted
Learning Note

Note for: Sustainability

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect- 3 principles
empower not substituted local capacity with full respect
proposed to local needs
no universal model
to engage counterpaths to identify the problem
local ownership is key for sustainability
Learning Note

Note for: Do No Harm

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect- 3 principles
empower not substituted local capacity with full respect
proposed to local needs
no universal model
to engage counterpaths to identify the problem
local ownership is key for sustainability
building capacity to remain- individual , insti. and society level
jointly seeking solutions with loc cp
to seek long time commitments - asses fin and pol resources
partners who contribute differently
continuity of giving advice /rapid turn over of advisors
not undermine activities of others
Learning Note

Note for: Respect, Humility and Empathy

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect- 3 principles
empower not substituted local capacity with full respect
proposed to local needs
no universal model
to engage counterpaths to identify the problem
local ownership is key for sustainability
building capacity to remain- individual , insti. and society level
jointly seeking solutions with loc cp
to seek long time commitments - asses fin and pol resources
partners who contribute differently
continuity of giving advice /rapid turn over of advisors
not undermine activities of others
the system you work is not perfect
Your experience but in an another context
not ready made solutions
Learning Note

Note for: Establish Credibility, Legitimacy and Informal Authority

solid professional relationship based on trust and respect- 3 principles
empower not substituted local capacity with full respect
proposed to local needs
no universal model
to engage counterpaths to identify the problem
local ownership is key for sustainability
building capacity to remain- individual , insti. and society level
jointly seeking solutions with loc cp
to seek long time commitments - asses fin and pol resources
partners who contribute differently
continuity of giving advice /rapid turn over of advisors
not undermine activities of others
the system you work is not perfect
Your experience but in an another context
not ready made solutions
your understanding- emphaty- skill- active listening

impact made- depends on contacts
Learning Note