One of the major international donor agencies decided to bring in a team of 18 regional and national consultants to jointly develop an integrated development program with a broad representation of local NGO’s and CBO’s: including project officers, specialists on sustainable agriculture, reproductive health, alphabetization, microcredit, economic development, training and education, gender and experts in financial administration. The goal was to elaborate a complete development program with all the partners, in one session of two full working weeks, weekends included. It was a huge, complex and apparently expensive exercise.
The team started identifying all “user stories” or needs and demands for the program’s different target groups and beneficiaries in one one-morning session. That way, all team members had an integrated view from scratch and gained understanding of each others’ requirements. Issues and conflicting interests were clarified on the spot. A prioritization exercise added some hierarchy of interest to this broad overview of needs.
Then the team split into working groups, elaborating detailed solutions for all high and medium priorities. They would debrief every day to the entire group –in order to crop feedback and suggestions and also to ensure mutual agreement-. Whenever demands were made in one area, changes in other affected areas would be immediately elaborated. Crazy ideas were tested right there on the spot, going to neighbourhoods and talking with the representatives of the target groups. And then the ideas were adjusted, or abandoned.