What's happening in Community Engagement

Measuring a moving target webinar:

This week we held an event highlighting the challenges of adaptive and design-integrated ASRH programming. You can see the recording, speaker notes, information about the speakers and the topic, as well as a number of helpful resources shared by the speakers during the call in this thread.

One of the key highlights was around how human-centred design and adaptive implementation can work in complimentary ways - how design can guide the research and project design, and adaptive implantation and learning practices can guide the implementation phases, to lead to rapid iteration through learning and insights. While there are challenges with measuring and evaluating interventions that are consistently iterating and improving, the essence of the program should remain true to the original theory of change.

The other interesting thing that stood out to me, was when speakers touched upon and would make for interesting follow-up was the idea of having internal project success metrics to measure how adaptive a project is. We talk quite a lot about how we need to develop mindsets, in addition to practices, and a culture of curiosity and learning to do HCD well, and these points were suggesting that it would be an interesting and important shift to actually hold implementers, designers, and evaluators to account. A great quote from speaker Matthew Wilson, A360 Director at PSI on this:

“Measuring outcomes is obviously important, but wouldn’t it be powerful if the ability to learn and adapt was a measure of success explicitly valued by donors and implementers?”

Adolescent Insights learnings and event:
We’re about to launch two reports with our observations on the generation and use of adolescent insights in HCD+ASRH programs. We are hosting a community-wide event to complement this launch and realized that this can be a technical topic and therefore should keep the full event at a fairly high level. This will be taking place May 31st and will discuss the value of insights in the HCD process as one of the key value-adds of HCD in ASRH programming and what it takes to do it well.

We do want to continue deepening this work by having more in-depth conversations with HCD+ASRH experts and so decided to test out a “Learning Circle” event for practitioners who have experience with the use and general of insights in practical program settings.

To help shape this, we reached out to a few members of the community to get their thoughts on the following questions, to help us frame what a meaningful and valuable conversation could look like. We asked:

  • What aspects of the generation/use of adolescent insights in the context of ASRH programming need to be further explored and reflected on?

  • What do you think will most benefit the field of practice with regards to insights in the context of HCD+ASRH? (We think it would be nice to have a learning circle which is practice-focused vs. just theory)

  • What are some next steps in terms of work that experts in the field can do to develop this learning area further?

We’ll keep this thread updated as we keep developing this out!

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Hi all,

As we start to share updates from our work at the Secretariat, I thought it would be helpful to share a little bit about who I am, not just as the Sr. Community Manager at the HCDExchange, but as Liz the human. I hope some background will help to provide context for how I approach things, my gaps, and where I’m coming from.

How it started

I’ve had a divergent path to get me to where I am today, but through line has always been a commitment to improving sexual and reproductive health. :male_sign: :female_sign: :infinity: My experience in this work comes mainly from working on menstrual health management (MHM) projects.

It started in Tanzania, partnering with a local non-profit to increase education on menstrual health, and access to menstrual health products for girls in secondary schools. :drop_of_blood: During this time I was running a small social entreprise that was working on solving last-mile distribution gaps and reusable pads were my favourite product in our basket. This non-profit had an incredible ability to create safe-spaces and open discussions, and I was privileged to hear firsthand how critical this education and these products are for girls to reach their full potential, which is something that I had previously taken for granted. :pensive:

After doing this in Tanzania for nearly 4 years, I switched to work directly with an MHM social entreprise called AFRIpads, the largest producer of reusable pads on the African continent. I worked selling their kits to international NGOs in Ethiopia :ethiopia: Tanzania :tanzania: Somalia and Somaliland :somalia: mainly who were either doing large-scale distributions in either schools, or camps for either internally displaced people or refugees. The real passion in this work came from going to the field and working with these partners to integrate our MHM curriculum into their projects, and facilitate training-of-trainer sessions with project team members.

How it’s going

I have been working for the HCDExchange since February of 2021, joining as the first community manager on the project. I became the Sr. Community Manager in June! :partying_face: My role is to create the opportunities and infrastructure for meaningful engagement within the Community of Practice. This looks like a lot of events, a lot of conversations, setting up partnerships, and managing this Forum!

It’s a learning process :thinking: in a few ways - first, because I’ve never been a community manager before (but I have been able to pull a lot of skills from my business development and partnerships life!) and secondly, because we are a continuously evolving project with a continuously evolving group of members with changing needs and desires.

I also oversee our youth engagement work stream, managing the Youth Engagement Officer and get to work closely with our Youth Leadership Hub, to collaborate on bringing our youth engagement opportunities and events :calendar: to the young professionals in the Community, and also sometimes a mentor for Associates. Being a mentor is one of my favourite elements of my role, mainly because it’s super energizing working together with such incredibly switched-on young people.

I think this is probably enough for this post! I’ll talk next time a bit about my values and why this work is so important to me personally. Thanks for reading! :grin:

The Secretariat has been in full-on planning mode these past few weeks. As some of you might know, the HCDExchange project has been extended into a second phase of the project, which began April 1st. Over the past month, we’ve been wrapping up our final report from the first phase, and digging into bringing our phase two proposal to life. It’s been busy, exhausting at times, and also very exciting and inspiring to look back and reflect while also looking ahead.

How have we done all of this over the course of only about 5 weeks, you might ask? Well, given the importance of launching a second phase, we found this a compelling enough reason to get the full team together for a strategic planning retreat. This is the first time team members have been brought together in-person since the re-launch of the HCDExchange! :partying_face: Important outcomes of this retreat are a new Theory of Change, and our work plan. The Theory of Change is a really great depiction of why we exist and what it is we are hoping to achieve with our work - our raison d’etre. To have full transparency with the Community of Practice, we’re going to be sharing this publicly very soon!

As a small sneak peak into our focuses, here are the two main outcome areas that we are working towards over the next 18 months or so:

  • Increased awareness of the role and value of HCD in AYSRH among practitioners and institutional level actors
  • Increased organizational capacity to apply HCD + AYSRH

What this means in practice is us working to widen and deepen engagement with new and existing community members with meaningful opportunities and experiences, partnering with institutional actors to accelerate the adoption of quality HCD in AYSRH, and a lot of testing, validating, iterating and documenting on the resources that we are putting out of the next couple of months.

We’re also investigating the long-term sustainability of the Community of Practice, looking at different options for funding or revenue to keep the HCDExchange alive and bright in the long-term, so you might see surveys or community asks to share your thoughts on how this future might take shape.

We’re so excited to keep moving forward on this journey together with all of you!

HCD Insights in AYSRH

We are all hands on deck to bring the adolescent insights reports to life, and host what should be a really great event in a few weeks!

With the launching of the two upcoming reports just around the corner, we’ve been working on how to complement these resources with other opportunities to engage with the content, for those who aren’t necessarily report people. The webinar on May 31st, should give folks a high-level of what is in the reports, hopefully to pique your interest in the reports, but also share some of the key highlights. We’ll also be sharing some blogs, and breaking down some of the report content in this section of the forum, and sharing a summary deck of the key highlights as well, so definitely keep an eye out for those!

We’ve also been having some internal debates about the framing of the adolescent insights learning area. The main questions being, is it just adolescents or is it also youth? We’ve realized that sometimes we get caught up on the terminology when really we just mean young people. Most of the projects that we’ve been looking at are AYSRH (adolescent and youth), with the focus on young people aged 15-19 or 15-24, but typically also have some divisions for older adolescents and youth within their programming. You’ll noticed that as we frame the upcoming event, we’re not really saying “adolescent insights” anymore, but “HCD insights in AYSRH” - hoping that it feels more clear. TBD on the official name change of this learning area though!

Since our strategy retreat at the end of April it feels like we are springing to life with a whole new energy!

We launched the two Adolescent Insight reports, which was an enormous effort from the learning team and a number of community members who supported us through consultation, expert interviews, validating and editing to get these reports out. The webinar to launch the reports was also a lot of fun - we had speakers from Gates, Scope Impact, Tinkerlabs and ex-PSI to help really demystify what we mean when we talk about “HCD insights,” which has been an important question for a lot of practitioners.

We brought on our new Youth Engagement Officer back in April and over the past month have been going through a consultative process with the project team to build out the next cohort of the Youth Leadership Hub (YLH). We wanted to make sure that the Associate roles for the YLH are based on areas of need within the team, asking each team member: “where can you see the value of have a youth perspective in your work?” but also, and just as importantly, “what can you do to add value to a young person through this work?” We landed on 4 new Associate roles, and have committed mentors within the Secretariat to really help to enable and build the skills of these associates and bring them meaningfully into the work of the community and learning work streams.

The description of the roles is here!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be reviewing applications and will hopefully have our new cohort starting by the beginning of July - just in time to start planning for International Youth Day!

Woow this amazing work being done to impact onto community for a better and sustainable transformation. I would love to be part of the team that makes this future change. Thank you

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Thanks for the enthusiasm, Eric! Definitely check out the YLH openings! The applications are due today!

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Building skills in the Community :bulb:

A couple of weeks back, I mentioned the two big outcome areas that we’re focusing on over the next phase of the HCDExchange - one of them being “Increased organizational capacity to apply HCD + AYSRH.” We’ve basically realised that, despite not being a capacity-building or technical assistance body, we have a responsibility to the community to help work towards this need/desire that many members have of building skills and understanding of human-centred design. We just have to approach it in a community of practice-specific way.

So, what does this look like?

Well, we had to take a look at our limitations - we’re not a training body, we do have some HCD expertise in our team, but we don’t have a training curriculum. We also had to take a look at the opportunities and strengths that we have as a community - we have relationships with HCD agencies, a curated library of resources, and a keen and willing audience of people.

We have the unique ability to convene both the expert facilitators and the audience/participants. Hopefully this is a win/win/win, whereby:

  • the HCD org gets to showcase their expertise and raise awareness about their work,
  • the audience gets practical and hands-on experience with different HCD methods (and take-away resources!),
  • we get to meet the needs of this growing community

We’re also trying as much as possible to gauge from our community what kinds of skills they are looking to build and also what kinds of learning formats work best. You might see us sending out polls and asks about this - please share your thoughts! It’s what makes for a community-led experience for all of us!

All of this being said, we’re super excited about the upcoming workshop on using HCD methods in AYSRH research, that’s going to be facilitated by Dalberg on June 29th.

I go into the specific thinking behind this first workshop of the year in this post - check it out and definitely sign up for the session!

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For people who have been following the HCDExchange for a while, you’ve probably noticed that we run at least one event each month. That’s part of our strategy to keep people engaged, while also ensuring that we have enough variety in these events to engage a wide audience and not have pressure on people to attend each month. We also try to mix up the format to keep things interesting, sometimes there are panel discussions, presentations, workshops, and sometimes we have more interactive sessions like community calls.

Planning for the month of July has been a bit of a conundrum. We have a commitment to honouring and celebrating International Youth Day each year, and it’s also a big part of the Youth Leadership Hub’s work to own and lead this. Last year we held a series of skills-building workshops over the course of August, the year before we held a big convening reaching something like 2000 youth participants. This year is no exception!

However, with the changes in the team that meant our new Youth Engagement Officer, Susan, joined us in April, we had a few months delay in the bringing on the new cohort of YLH associates.

We also wanted to be really thoughtful about the process, based on feedback that we received from both the YLH associates from the last cohort, and the mentors on the Secretariat who were working with them. We spent time together with Susan to look through the feedback, understand the challenges and opportunities, and then she led a consultative process to shape the new associate roles directly with the new mentors. We landed on four new associate roles, and are nearly through with the recruitment of the new Associates - VERY EXCITED to share more on that once they are here!

I digress - because this group of associates won’t have the luxury of several months prep-time prior to that fateful August 12th, we decided to shift our July fireside chat call to be one event that we use to honor and celebrate IYD. The chat will be made up of a panel of young people discussing youth/adult power dynamics. It will take place on Thursday August 11th, the day before IYD (why? Fridays are difficult days for engagement, especially in the “summer” months, and we don’t want to detract from other events that orgs and partners might be running).

Don’t worry though, the Youth Leadership Hub will still be owning the entire month of August as “Youth Month” and will be planning for a number of other activities, be those social media campaigns, Forum content or blogs, even another event towards the end of August - all of this is TBD for when they join!

In the meantime, look out for the promo and the event page so that you can get fully immersed for the fireside chat on Aug 11th!

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey :world_map:

We’ve recently undergone some user experience research, including extensive interviews and focus group discussions with members of the community. This work has been for our ongoing business development strategy, but of course, from this we have understood some areas of challenge and opportunity within the wider community of practice experience (NB: business development definitely warrants a longer post, and maybe event a member event/meeting on its own! more to come…).

One thing that we do know for sure is that the HCDExchange can feel confusing :face_with_spiral_eyes: When people ask me what I do, I can never summarize it in just one sentence, or even a few succinct sentences! If you want people to engage with us, it’s important that you know what we do, what we believe in and stand for, and also where you fit into all of it! If that’s not coming across clearly, then we have work to do.

So what do we do about this?

Well, one thing we’re starting right away is improving what we call the Member Journey. We want to make better connections between everything that we offer online, and make your experience as members easier to navigate and understand. How? We’re about to put the call out to members to get volunteers to do 1:1 sessions with us to see how you interact with what we offer - what is working, what is confusing, what is missing - so that we can make the experience smoother.

Another thing that we’re going to do, internally, is come together on making tangible opportunities for members to engage with the work that we’re doing, mainly around our learning agenda. We’ve seen that our events are received pretty well, but we hope that we can create more hands-on opportunities that are clearly explained for more members to be part of the on-going learning work we do.

I really hope that in the next few months, some of that confusion genuinely starts to dissipate. I’m really excited for the process as well, because it’s going to be fascinating and also a lot of fun to learn from all of you as members!

Now… one last thing!

In one sentence: the HCDExchange explores how projects use human-centred design to improve sexual and reproductive health programming for youth and adolescents. :grin:

Sharing our process :thought_balloon:

We recently had our monthly team retro - an aptly shortened name for a retrospective meeting where we reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, and significant moments and adaptations that are important to note. One of the questions was raised was that some members of the team wanted to get a better understanding of how we select our event topics, collaborators, and event types. I wanted to write this post just as much for my team mates as for folks in the community. So, what’s the thinking behind all of these events, anyways?

  1. Opportunities arise :raising_hand_woman:

We often have organization or projects reach out to us asking if they can share their work through the HCDExchange platform - which is amazing. This is actually the best thing that can happen, and also makes me the most excited as the community manager. When this happens, it’ shows us that people value the platform, and leads to member-driven events.

These are important to act on because they show what’s happening in our space in real-time - they tend to be about new outcomes, approaches or ideas that projects are excited about sharing. This helps us to stay up-to-speed on who and what is moving and shaking in the HCD+AYSRH ecosystem.

When this happens, we try to evaluate the best way to bring the information to the community and work the the collaborator to shape the event, while also considering what we know about the needs and desires of community members. Sometimes, like in the case of the Measuring a Moving Target webinar, A360 wanted to have a conversation with other projects/orgs to talk about their project evaluation learnings. Other times, like with the V and Beyond Bias webinars last year, it was more about presenting the project and sharing deep learnings.

  1. Themes arise :bulb:

We have a number of touch points to gauge when themes are arising - one big one is the learning agenda of the Community of Practice. This agenda, with four main learning questions/areas, was co-created with community members in 2020-ish to outline the most pressing areas of exploration on integrating HCD in AYSRH. You can learn more about these areas here.

Another way that themes arise is from conversations with community members - through networking and discovery calls, following up with projects, conversations from ongoing learning work, and even advisory committee and working group meetings. We’re also constantly scouring for news, blogs, articles, and literature in the HCD+AYSRH field that helps guide us toward what the hot-button topics are (I like to share these here!)

Typically I’ll pull out a couple of ideas and ask the team to add any additional ideas, and then we’ll hold a brainstorm session to see which seems the most exciting and relevant. Once we have a theme, we dive into the profiles of the speakers we’d love to engage on the specific topic, and what the best structure might be for that particular topic or theme. We try to diversify the speakers that we collaborate with, and balance bringing in new voices with the desired expertise.

  1. We follow our work plan :spiral_calendar:

We have a community engagement strategy that’s ever-evolving and a work plan that guides the kind of activities we’ve seen need and demand for, all balanced with what we have the resources to do. For example, we’ve learned from member feedback that there is a desire for practical skills-building, so we’ve planned to do skills-building workshops once a quarter. This leaves two months every quarter for other types of events, whether those are panel discussions, project spotlights, or more informal community calls.

What else are we thinking about when it comes to community engagement? :handshake:
One thing that we have realized and be ruminating on over the past few months, is that since our scale down in Phase 2, we haven’t held as many opportunities for the more experienced HCD+AYSRH practitioners. Experienced HCD+AYSRH members often engage as presenters and speakers, but the events are typically for the broader community audience who tend to be folks who are more intrigued and curious about HCD+AYSRH programming.

So we are starting to test out new opportunities for experienced HCD+AYSRH members to have more deep, technical conversations, that help to move learnings forward. In conversations with members, I’ve been asking about the topics they’d like to discuss with their peers, and who they’d love to have in the room for the discussions. These topics will be crowd-sourced directly from members, and we’ll start with the ones that arise most frequently. These discussions will then be synthesized and shared out with the wider community as thought pieces.

And yes, please take this as an open call to reach out to us if you want to share your work in an event, or join one of these deep technical conversations! :raised_hands:

The absolute highlight of this week has been on-boarding design sprints with the new Youth Leadership Hub. This is an awesome opportunity for us to do three things:

  • Set the YLH off to a good start in understanding youth engagement and their associate roles
  • Use and embed human-centred design in our work
  • Make progress on our youth engagement goals and work plan

We set off with a challenge: How might we improve and create opportunities for young CoP members to engage with us online in a safe and meaningful way?

We held two sprints back-to-back, the first one being ideation and the second one being synthesis and prototypes. The goal of this is the give us some ideas that we can translate into prototypes to test with young practitioner members of the community that will become part of our community work.

Here is a sneak peak into some of this work:
Ideation Jamboard

This is a really exciting update! We have been invited to collaborate with PSI Ethiopia on their first annual HCD Week event!

This event will be hosted over 3 days in Addis Ababa, with the objective of increasing the understanding of the value and uses of HCD in health programming. There will be presentations for donors and government officials, sharing case studies, and virtual sessions to dive into the value of HCD for meaningfully engaging young participants and a hands-on HCD workshop where participants can actually test the tools themselves.

It’s so exciting to see events like this taking off and to also be invited in to co-facilitate with industry leaders in HCD+AYSRH! So grateful and excited at this opportunity, and we’ll be happy to share some of the resources and decks that we create for these sessions!