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  • Thomas Stevenson, Project Manager

With “Leadership & Management Essentials” Trainings, IBI Keeps Capacity Building on the Cutting Edge

Throughout its 24 years as a leading USAID small business partner, IBI has always sought to implement at “the cutting edge,” including in the core practice area that is capacity building and institutional strengthening. Our often-chaotic modern world poses a question, however: how do you build capacity when both gradually developing trends and sudden, seismic events—like the COVID pandemic—shift the goalposts for government actors, the private sector, and CSOs to achieve success?

At IBI, we watch organizations like the World Economic Forum (WEF), which specialize in tracking these changes to nail down the skills organizations of all stripes most need to cultivate in their employees. To this end, throughout 2020, IBI has developed and field-tested its Leadership & Management Essentials (LME) curriculum, an integrated set of five training modules designed to be delivered over a five-day span. These modules map to the WEF’s top job skills for 2020: negotiation; emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility; resolution of complex problems; judgement and decision-making; and active listening and the art of questions.

In putting together this curriculum, IBI technical experts drew on pedagogical techniques and inputs co-created with top U.S. management consulting outfits, adapting them through various iterations to the development context—for example, field-testing content with political science and business students at internationally-ranked Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Universidad de Los Andes, respectively, in Colombia.

The result is an interactive suite of trainings comprising not only theoretical frameworks but also case studies and role playing exercises that drive learning home. While the five LME modules form a comprehensive curriculum, each module can also stand alone, allowing trainees—whether they be public, private, or third sector—to focus on the specific skills they want to bolster.

IBI delivered the LME curriculum in early 2020 to counterparts of the USAID-funded Strengthening Local Organizations (SLO) project in El Salvador, offering organizations training based on weaknesses identified through a series of organizational performance assessments. For example, assessments suggested that senior administrators at Universidad de Oriente—a strategic partner and local prime implementer for USAID—could benefit from intensive skill-building in negotiation to help them clear intra- and inter-departmental logjams.

“[IBI’s home office technical expert] showed excellent command of the content,” noted Francisco Zuleta, Dean of the Engineering Department after participating in the third day of IBI-facilitated workshops. “These [LME] workshops… have enhanced my ‘soft skills,’ enabling me to exert a positive influence and resolve recurring issues within my department.”

As 2020—a year of unprecedented shifts and disruptions—draws to a close, innovations like LME keep IBI poised to play a major role in USAID’s institutional strengthening and capacity building efforts for years to come.



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