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Strengthening Organisational Performance

Knowledge and expertise
The staff of John Fargher + Associates demonstrate the knowledge and expertise required to strengthen organisational performance in partners identified by the private sector and donor clients. John Fargher has relevant qualifications to support knowledge of organisational development and approaches for building individual competencies, group capabilities and organisational capacity. For example, John’s post-graduate management qualifications provide him with advanced skills in organisational psychology and change processes. He has applied this understanding through the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of organisational capacity building initiatives for AusAID, DFID, World Bank, partner governments and the private sector. These skills have been applied in practice on design, evaluation, supervision and implementation missions in more than 30 countries over the past 25 years – at individual, group and organisational scales.

John’s knowledge of organisational capacity development has been enhanced in the past 5 years through study and engagement with members of the AusAID Capacity Development Panel including Heather Baser, Tony Land and Peter Morgan – knowledge that was further developed through a learning-by-doing experience working under Tony Land for the PNG Sub-national Strategy (2010) and with Sue Dawson for the Evaluation Capacity Building Program (2011-2014).

John has strong interpersonal and facilitation skills that are informed by post-graduate training in human behaviour, organisational change and strategy execution. Those skills are one reason why he was selected as a member of the 8-person Facilitation Panel under the AusAID M&E Expert Panel (MEEP: 2009-2012).

Demonstrated experience
John was one of the 8-member AusAID M&E Expert Panel (MEEP) Facilitation Panel (2009-2012). This recognised his formal post-graduate qualifications in leadership, organisation and change that include skills, methods and tools in facilitation, mentoring, negotiation, human resource management and organisational psychology. More recently John has been selected to facilitate AusAID-led designs in Indonesia and implement the Vanuatu activities under the AusAID Evaluation Capacity Building Program (developed for AusAID by Dr Sue Dawson) as part of the organisational change being undertaken by AusAID in response to the Aid Review.

John provides help-desk mentoring and coaching to senior AusAID staff (including one FADG), country teams (e.g. currently Latin America, Caribbean, Regional Pacific, Vanuatu and Vietnam); specific design teams (e.g. Indonesian Higher Education and Indonesia Climate Change) and specific initiatives (e.g. Australia Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction).

Prior to the MEEP, as Team Leader co-managing the implementation of the VAMESP II project for 5 years, John facilitated the planning, implementation, monitoring and review of a major national partnership for aid effectiveness. The primary relationship with MPI was facilitated through day-to-day engagement and a program of planning activities. The secondary relationships with 5 other Ministries, 12 major donors and 7 Provinces was facilitated through scheduled communications, networking, relationship-building and the implementation of sound change-management principles (facilitating participants to move from “endings”, through the “neutral zone” to “new beginnings”). This facilitation used consensus building and negotiation tools to move a large number of influential actors towards the first aligned monitoring system in the world – an achievement noted by OECD-DAC at the Hanoi Roundtable on Management for Development Results (MfDR) in 2006 and by the World Bank and Government of Vietnam at the Accra Roundtable on Aid Effectiveness in 2008.

John has contributed to the introduction of performance culture and supported institutional changes for sustainable use of evidence-based management in AusAID (Indonesia, Vanuatu and Vietnam) as well as with large national and provincial institutions in Armenia, China and Vietnam. For example, under the MEEP he contributed to trials of new systems to inform organisational change (e.g. Design Facilitator for Internal Facilitated Design in Indonesia and Country Facilitator for Vanuatu activities under the Evaluation capacity Building Program); the implementation of the new AusAID country architecture (e.g. supporting staff at post and desk to prepare the Delivery Strategy for Vietnam Climate Change and Cambodia Justice sector investments) and the AusAID Performance Management and Evaluation Policy (e.g. supporting program teams to develop performance frameworks at country program [such as Caribbean 2011-12], sector [such as WASH 2009-10] and initiative [such as AIFDR 2010-11] levels; and leading 11 evaluations in the past 3 years). In partner country institutions, John has worked with counterparts to introduce and develop capacity for evidence-based management. For example, for 5 years he co-managed VAMESP II with the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam to build demand for monitoring data through introduction of a performance culture in 6 Ministries and 7 Provinces. The success of this pilot phase led to new ODA management legislation and national rollout of the changes. The change management experience with the Vietnam Ministry of Finance (MOF) is especially relevant – a 4 year program of engagement, capacity development and incremental culture change that now spans 28 ODA programs and the entire MOF organisation responsible for aid effectiveness. Kirkpatrick and goal attainment scaling methodologies were used to monitor progress towards the performance culture objective and evaluate results, in addition to systematic competency testing to assess skills transfer and identify resulting behavioural and institutional changes.

The long-term Vietnam experience was informed by earlier, short-term change management experiences in provincial and national agencies. For example, John was engaged by World Bank/GEF to provide community driven development and rural development support to the design, appraisal and later supervision of the Armenia Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction Project. He used change management principles to design the organisation and competencies required to manage natural resources using community engagement and evidence rather than central planning. John built the capacity of staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and local consultants to plan, conduct and analyse PRA activities to inform the design process. Most of this was done on-the-job using learning-by-doing techniques adapted to the local circumstances of post conflict and shocked communities in the aftermath of the war with Azerbaijan and collapse of the Soviet Union respectively.

John has developed curricula, trained trainers and directly provided formal and on-the-job training in monitoring, evaluation and evidence-based management. He has worked with counterpart agencies to design, deliver and monitor training programs as part of institutional strengthening and change management processes for aid effectiveness. For example: over four years John personally provided formal training to more than 150 participants, including trainers, and provided mentoring to 38 Champions as well as overseeing a broader training program for more than 1,000 participants. A formal training strategy was developed that included formal training at basic and practitioner levels, learning-by-doing at practitioner level, training of Champion trainers and mentoring and on-going support through a Resource Centre. John led the writing of manuals for monitoring, evaluation and M&E training and worked with 2 others to prepare a comprehensive M&E training resource. The success of this training program was identified by the Japanese Evaluation Society and OECD-DAC Evaluation Network – with VAMESP II being specifically identified as good practice capacity development in an OECD-DAC study on Evaluation Capacity Development and an EU study on Technical Assistance in Vietnam.

Similarly, as part of the Armenia Natural Resource Management and Poverty Reduction Project (World Bank) John provided formal and on-the-job training to national and provincial government staff to develop competencies in the systematic monitoring of indicators related to vulnerability, risk and household livelihoods. The training included indicators and systems for monitoring ex-ante risk reduction strategies, as well as ex-post coping strategies and the mechanisms used to cope with shocks.

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