Achieving results is usually complex, but explaining results should be simpler. What we need is more common sense and plain language, and less jargon when we think about and analyse results. We may eventually have to use donor-specific RBM terms, but we should not let them get in the way of clarity.
Instead of being trapped and overwhelmed by the jargon so widely used in Results-Based Management, we can use plain language to our advantage.
The bottom line for any organizational innovation is that if the ideas it promotes do not resonate with the users, do not serve them, do not make the lives and work of practitioners easier or more productive, and are not to some extent adaptable to the real needs of the users, the innovation simply will not generate support from either leaders or practitioners and will not, in the long run, be used effectively. The concepts will be ignored, or co-opted into existing practice.
But if the language and the ideas make sense to the people expected to use them, if service providers and practitioners can recognize themselves and their own work in the terms used and the methods proposed, then a concept like results-based management -- and the actions and ideas that underpin it and flow from it -- will have a fighting chance of surviving and perhaps even flourishing.
RBM is, for many of the people who are not happy using it, such an organizational innovation. For results-based management to be adopted, and more important actually used in practice by implementing agencies, it has to be framed in a less bureaucratic, more helpful context, and with language that doesn't require a PhD in performance measurement to be used.
Greg Armstrong discovered years ago that even the best field managers and development professionals often had problems using RBM jargon to describe their results. So, he worked with them to simplify the language, to make it usable in terms all professionals, in any field, can understand and use. The language in the user-based approach to RBM training is derived from the experience of field workers and project managers in countries and sectors throughout Asia and Africa, people funded by many different agencies. It has been translated, because the language is straight-forward and easy to understand, into many different languages during workshops, including Thai, Lao, Khmer, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia, Russian, and Swahili.
The emphasis is on the use of clear, easy-to-understand terms that make sense to the practitioners in their own work, but which can also be translated, eventually, into any of the RBM-specific terms used by aid agencies.
To date training in this simplified approach to Results-Based Management has been used in
Burma/Myanmar border areas
Emphasizing simple, common-sense language for thinking about policy and practice, these RBM concepts have been used in training with professionals and practitioners from the field level to the most senior levels of host governments, coming from a wide range of government agencies
Ministry of The Interior
Ministry of Women’s Affairs
Ministry of the Environment
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development
Ministry of Religious Affairs
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Religious Affairs
Ministry of Local Government
Ministry of Natural Resources
Auditor General Offices
Participants have come from agencies as varied as UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNESCO, IFAD, UNDP, from bilateral aid agencies, from national Administrative Courts,ethics agencies, Auditor-General offices, aid coordinating agencies, specialised planning and reform units, universities and NGOs.
Experience implementing this results-based management framework has shown it to be effective also with people actively participating in political decisions, including government Ministers, MP's, Senators and parliamentary staff, people who, at least in theory, avoid jargon when they talk to constituents. It works well in addition, with development professionals, managers and finance officers, and with service providers in a wide range of roles, from teachers, to police, health providers, community organizations and human rights workers.
Fundamentally, this is an approach that has proven successful because it starts from where participants are; applies basic concepts of adult learning, organizational change and the implementation of innovations; liberates results from jargon, and can be shared easily by, and across partners working at all levels. .