Madison McDaniel, Feedback Labs | July 15, 2022
Accountability breeds civic responsibility and is the interface of interaction between organizations. Dynamic Accountability, a term coined by Restless Development, means that civil society organizations are accountable to all stakeholders, most importantly the communities at the heart of their work. Dynamic Accountability is therefore a systematic and values-oriented approach grounded in meaningful engagement. It’s inclusive, participatory, and constantly practiced. The Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice (DACoP), created by CIVICUS, Restless Development, Keystone Accountability, and the Global Standard Partnership, joined forces to create a space where other civil society organizations could come together to share good practices and learn from each other on the topic of Dynamic Accountability.
The DACoP presented in a LabStorm to facilitate a discussion identifying ways to strengthen engagement with their members, widen their outreach, and take the project forward in a sustainable, member-led way. With hopes of bringing more purpose to the Community of Practice and offering more personal and organizational growth to members, the DACoP wants to use formal structures to strengthen its governance and face the challenge of listening to the expectations of diverse stakeholders both globally and in the digital space. Here’s what LabStorm attendees had to say.
- Build a successful community of practice. Attendees addressed the issue of people joining the Community of Practice without actively participating, and suggested looking into platforms that gather data on how members are participating. Finding organizations within the community and appointing ambassadors from those organizations could help increase individual accountability and interaction as well. Time zone and language were recognized as barriers to participation. Attendees recommended holding smaller discussion groups with more narrow topics, having funding for travel to incentivize working together on certain projects, and hiring interpreters to increase community engagement.
- Create a safe and inclusive space. It was suggested that the DACoP consider what type of relationship building they currently have within their organizations, and whether or not people feel comfortable sharing their ideas. They can bring together community members to work in small groups and hire facilitators with a wide network and trust among various groups. It’s about experimenting with innovative ways to help people feel safe to share their experiences and place their communities at the core of decision-making. Managing power imbalances between smaller and larger organizations is another important factor in creating a safe and inclusive space when it comes to who’s able to be part of/speak in the conversation. Smaller organizations need more financial support in order to invest time in the space and avoid those imbalances. Additionally, regional or affinity groups were suggested to increase equity and the inclusivity of discussions.
- Work with members to catalyze action. Change requires the collaboration of multiple people within an organization. It’s difficult to implement learnings from the Community of Practice in a larger organization if it is only 1-2 people from an organization participating/on board with new ideas. It may be helpful for the DACoP to understand the specific benefits that community members are receiving/want to receive, and how that can drive greater participation or action. People tend to engage more deeply when they are receiving benefits that they personally need. Attendees emphasized focusing on celebrations of solutions as well while highlighting success stories from organizations as a way to motivate and show the positive result of everyone’s efforts.
As the presentation came to a close, the presenters gathered several takeaways from the LabStorm discussion. They found the insights to be very useful as they consider how to make personal connections and work within time limitations. On the idea of making certain organization members ambassadors, the DACoP felt it could help them better know who their members are, which organizations they’re coming from, and help fulfill their needs more effectively. Finally, they wrapped up by expressing how shared values can bring people together from communities and organizations for a greater cause.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.