C-LOP kicks off transfer of knowledge through a series of workshops
Over the past year, C-LOP’s aim has been to help ministries, departments, and organisations improve their capacity to execute, by focusing on a competency-based approach for public officials.
We’ve developed strategies around the criticality of competencies in capacity building and the significance of developing a framework of roles, activities, and positions for public officials. As these knowledge resources became more solid and credible, it was time to share them with organisations C-LOP has been working with. And so, we kicked off a series of trainings in August 2021 with the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), an autonomous academic institution that works on training, research, and information dissemination for public administrations. IIPA aims to build capacity for good governance in India.
Since January this year C-LOP members have been in regular touch with the staff at IIPA to understand their organisational structure and their leadership vision. IIPA aspires to be at par with global institutions like Leeds University (UK), Harvard University (USA), and CELAB (China) as a certified service provider (CSP), with their ease of access to courses and the faculty’s focus on subject-area expertise. As the Research and Coordination wing at IIPA is one of the main departments, the professors are equipped to conduct advanced applied research in policy and governance. Therefore, they aim to increase the number of research projects to 100. The aim of the training sessions was to help IIPA move closer to this vision, through an introduction to the competency-driven engagement process (C-DE).
Twenty IIPA faculty members joined the five-day workshop, titled ‘Competency-driven engagement on the iGOT platform'. Given pandemic-related challenges, the workshop was completely virtual. Our objectives were two-fold:
- To build the internal capacity of IIPA staff to identify the roles and activities required for their positions, and develop the competencies to map to their roles through the C-DE process.
- To build the internal capacity of IIPA staff to support other ministries, departments, and organisations (particularly central training institutions) to C-DE their positions, delineating their roles and activities, and mapping their competencies.
The workshop had to be planned keeping in mind challenges around online learning, with a focus on making participation as interactive as possible given the technical nature of the subject. At C-LOP, there was excitement across the board as team members took the challenges head on, culminating in an intensive planning process that saw members from different departments coming together with ideas, suggestions and inputs.
After several rounds of brainstorming and discussions, a detailed session plan was developed that would comprise of
- The use of audio-visual communication through presentations, videos, and team activities like breaking down attitudes, skills, and knowledge elements required for competencies and session-specific recaps using online whiteboards like Miro.
- Daily homework assignments .
- Pre and post-training assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of training material.
- Post-workshop feedback surveys.
The five days were packed with stimulating discussions and learnings. IIPA faculty members asked pointed questions and made insightful comments around Mission Karmayogi, the role of competencies, and the C-DE process. A few participants also used their learnings from the workshop to develop Mission Karmayogi-compliant work allocation orders to delineate their positions, roles, and activities.
For the C-LOP team, in addition to the adrenaline rush of planning and executing this training series, there were key takeaways on significant aspects of the training. Soon after this, the team went on to conduct two more training sessions, with The Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM) and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA). The format of these workshops was culled from the learnings and reflections we had from the IIPA training. Here’s a round-up of the most crucial lessons.
- Distinguish and place equal emphasis on learning versus skill building:
Training sessions, be it virtual, in-person, or blended, should distinguish between learning versus skill building. Put differently, while knowledge dissemination is important, practising and building a skill should also be emphasised. In the context of Mission Karmayogi, competency development is a skill that comes with practice. While IIPA members were given a conceptual understanding of developing competencies, the training did not include avenues for actually drafting them.
Learning from this experience, for ISTM and LBSNAA, we introduced practice sheets on competency development that participants could use throughout the training.
- Ensure interactions between participants to enable peer-to-peer learning:
In the IIPA training, there was two-way communication between participants and facilitators, but the participants had limited opportunities to engage with each other. To foster a holistic learning experience, it is essential that participants interact among themselves, beyond engaging with the facilitators.
To encourage more peer-to-peer learning, in the ISTM and LBSNAA trainings, we introduced breakout rooms where participants could interact with each other in the form of questions, comments, and discussions.
- Focus on the process as much as output:
Competency development is an evolving process with constant iterations. With IIPA, more emphasis was placed on producing the output (their positions, roles, activities, and competencies).
For ISTM and LBSNAA, we got participants to share their process of developing competencies instead of rushing to the output. To enable this, we provided them with tips for competency development instead of prescribing a step-by-step process. In this manner, participants developed competencies through a unique, intuitive process, and then shared them with co-participants during dedicated debrief sessions.
These training experiences have not only enriched C-LOP’s understanding of conducting virtual workshops on capacity building, but also brought us one step closer in envisioning a competency-based framework for public service delivery.