News from the initiative

TALEARN Annual Workshop


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The Transparency and Accountability Initiative recently hosted the second TALEARN Annual Workshop, in Jakarta, Indonesia  from March 12-15. TALEARN is a global community of practice. It aims to link those who want to deepen the understanding of transparency and accountability-related work, and who want to really apply that learning to the actions of their own organisations and the field more widely. It does that by creating spaces for collective learning and action about critical questions and challenges, practices and innovations, and the individual and collective impact of our work.

Pre-workshop reading materials to get participants’ creative juices flowing included:

TALEARN brings together people from across disciplines to share learning, and to work collectively on new ideas and shared challenges. Of the 63 participants in the workshop (participant bios), 31 were from civil society organisations, 24 were from funders and 8 were researchers . The workshop had roughly 3 phases spread across four days (see the Workshop Agenda and photos from the event)

The aim of Phase 1 was to provoke thinking, raise shared questions and exchange practical and diverse experiences and ideas. This included a strong case study presentation from Twaweza, demonstrating what it takes to bring honest reflection and evaluative rigor to an organisation’s work, and the roles of organisational vision and funder support in generating a real ‘learning organisation’.

Video from Rakesh Rajani on Twaweza’s approach to strategic planning, donors and learning

Video of entire Twaweza presentation (sound is not great, headphones recommended)

The workshop also featured 3 intense panels and discussions:

Panel 1: Working with power and politics: What are the implications of thinking and working politically for donors, researchers and practitioners?

Panel 2: Knowledge for what? How do we generate evidence that actually improves impact, and how do we deal with competing priorities?

Panel 3: How does change happen? Does use of ‘theories of change’ actually help integrate contextual understanding, learning and adaptation over time?

Additionally, the workshop featured a ‘Knowledge Marketplace’, in which participants shared materials, made ‘lightening talks’ and huddled to discuss issues of key importance to them.

Phase 2 was about gearing up for action. This happened in two main ways. Some people wanted to make the most of the expertise present to do some key exploration at the workshop itself, e.g. by sitting with researchers to re-think their theory of change and evaluation strategy, or to explore key research questions for potential funding. Others clustered around key themes and worked to plan the joint activities they want to undertake moving forward. These included work on:

  • Clarifying  and improving theories of change – webinars and case clinics to practically help members
  • Working out which evaluation and research methods really match governance interventions and and organisation’s needs  – lists of resource people, webinars on real cases, with the potential to also focus on innovative approaches like outcome mapping, ethnographic methods and mixed methods
  • Building learning organisations – identifying good practices from members and sharing those with the community
  • Improving donor incentives for learning – exploring what foundations do that helps/hinders learning, and looking for ways to improve that individually and across members
  • Understanding social movements for transparency and accountability – developing case studies on the complex realities of social movement development rather than project interventions
  • Building a knowledge repository on citizen engagement – to get at the key link between transparency and accountability, develop the repository and generate materials to fill gaps through webinars and case clinics

Etienne and Bev Wenger-Trayner, who helped facilitate the workshop, presented their framework for value creation in a community of practice to help participants understand how they could best add value through their collaborations with one another in the space of the workshop and moving forward.

In Phase 3, we focused on application, through three site visits to Jakarta-based organisations that had been involved in the event. This allowed participants to hear about the contexts and approaches of these organisations, and for the latter to draw on the comparative knowledge and experience of participants for new ideas in addressing the challenges they face.

Check out the brief summary document here

See what people had to say during the workshop at #TALEARN.

Some reflections on the workshop can be found below:

T/AI’s Brendan Halloran here here and here.

Anne Sophie Lambert from Accountability Lab here

Irene Guijt of Learning by Design/ODI here

Chris Underwood of MAVC here

Twaweza’s blog here

Want to hear more about the workshop or be involved in the work moving forward?  Contact Brendan Halloran (


6 responses to “TALEARN Annual Workshop”

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