Fundamentals of Strategic Advising in Reform Environments

Introductory Video - Fundamentals of Advising

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.

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

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For further queries on the e-learning, please feel free to get in touch with us at

Course info

الجمهور المستهدف

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

مدة الدورة

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.



Introduction to the course

Introductory Lesson - Contextualising Advising

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

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

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

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

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.