My Lightbulb Moment (2016)

November 2016 is when I attended IBP’s second foundations course in learning-centered approach. Brought in by Ann Blyberg, Global Learning Partners (GLP), with Jeanette Romkema as facilitator, convened a group of IBP staff persons. It was during this 3-day training that I had a light bulb moment, which was that the learning-centered approach was a valid and effective tool that effectively answered two separate questions I had at that time. Those were:

  1. What makes IBP so special as a “convener”? IBP saw and stated itself as a convener, which had nourished an emerging network (PI) which led to grant support to partners for budget capacity-building purposes of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). From an operations perspective, I saw the bones (travel agency, event planner, payment process) and the expertise (PhDs, titles, representation). However, I couldn’t see what was special about this ability, beyond having niche expertise and fundraising skills to support the activities and convenings.
  2. How can an organization plan for and ensure Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI)? An emerging topic was DEI and its role for potential impact. The role of diversity – at least in the operational sense – was tricky for me as it assumed that I know what diversity looks like and isn’t it the point to learn more about what we don’t know? The answer became immediately clear in that foundations course – if we focus on creating space for inclusion and diversity will show up on its own. It is nearly transformative to realize this because it means that I can learn from the content, to improve my future outputs with less bias.

Fast forward to February 2021…

  • The entire organization has participated in this and has become embedded in the growing and evolving culture. Really cool!
  • Partners are receiving this – which exceeds my expectations on the impacts from adopting this approach.
  • By investing in this approach over the last 4+ years, it meant that IBP could maintain its niche position in the growing and increasingly more competitive sector. COVID-19 had devastated the event planning function – which meant that the ability to convene in person is no longer a required competence. Thus, questioning how we justify event planning support. Fortunately, investing in the event planner’s training for GLP actually positioned her beautifully in 2020. The ingredients were in place which allowed her to step up to the challenge.

I am grateful the learning journey we have been on together,

Virginia McMullen

International Budget Partnership

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