I was facilitating a session on “Introduction to Managing for Impact” on a training workshop organized from September 15 to 25, 2008 at Haramaya University. The session dealt on issues related to impact and the need for programmes or projects to organize themselves to put together a framework that will enable them achieve impact.

In the middle of the session a participant raised an issue; we in programmes and project are accountable to the activities, outputs and the programme outcome, however, we also believe that with what we do to realize out come we influence impact. Therefore, as project managers, we shouldn’t be asked or be accountable for impact. This remark reminded me an article titled “M&E as learning: Rethinking the dominant paradigm “by JIM WOODHILL which I read a day before when preparing to facilitate the session I mention above.

The article mentioned,

A ‘managing for impact’ model argues … managers should be (held) responsible for guiding an intervention towards the achievement of its higher level objectives. Note the difference between being responsible for such guidance and holding management directly accountable for the achievement of impacts”.

The added role which sounded to me very much relevant was Guiding the Project Strategy towards Impact. I feel that “guiding” is more than “influencing” impact. I found the influencing or contributing to impact as responsibility very much vague and not bringing new role or new activity that will help programmes or projects to bring about impact. However, when reflecting on the concept of guiding the strategy it occurred to me that the concept gives new insight on what programme management can do to manage the programme towards impact. In the Managing for impact training workshop, conducting a comprehensive situational & stakeholder analysis and exhaustive theory of action are included as issues to be addressed in ensuring the identifying of a strategy that have better chance in enabling a programme achieve impact. The reflection furthered made me think louder and pose the question why programme management shouldn’t be accountable in relation to guiding the programme strategy to impact. I feel management could be asked for; the exhaustivenesses of the situation analysis, the involvement of stakeholders, the exhaustiveness of the implementation strategy identification process and mechanism of revising and reviewing the strategy.

In some way it was a new revelation to me because it helped me see how programmes can be accountable for impact and also it reinforced my knowledge of the concept of guiding the strategy.