Regionally contextualized and integrated engagement, dialoguing, knowledge sharing and communication
Part 3: The Paseo Value-Added
Building a team of strong and appropriately skilled paseos will help programs achieve their goals.
Paseos with strong skills in listening, storytelling, networking, and engagement will be critical for solidifying partnerships and creating an environment for information sharing. When communications responsibilities fall on one member of the team, or outside of the team, a disconnect between research, development, and communications processes often occurs. The paseo approach ensures that the skills of every member of the program are maximized. For example, a person skilled in reaching policy makers can be valuable to the project and regional work of the program. The responsibility of the Paseo will be to make sure that these skills are maximized, utilized, and compliment each other and ensure gaps are filled.
The paseo approach helps facilitate change along the impact pathways. This fits into the impact pathway approach where we – ideally as a team – make explicit how we anticipate things to change as a result of our work. We outline how we think our activities will lead to certain outputs, and how other activities will ensure that those outputs are employed to lead to changes in behavior (outcomes). In both of these activity sets, the integrated paseo approach is required to ensure that our research activities are creating the right products, i.e. that our products are of use to the people we hope to influence. Change centers around people, and this is the added value of the impact pathway exercise (vis-à-vis a logframe approach). Ultimately, it is people who make the changes, not institutions or policies. The latter are just important operational frameworks. Therefore, our work focuses on people. And within the impact pathway thinking, we differentiate between next-users (users of our products/outputs) and end-users (those who will eventually benefit from the contextualized application of our results).
Context matters and a paseo approach tries to deal with the great diversity that often unfolds when we unpack ‘wicked problems’ in a systematic way. The wide spectrum of paseo responsibilities and skills are important for achieving program goals (long term impact, strengthening partnerships, location-specific relationships). But this is only possible if the range of team members embodies the role of engagement, knowledge management and communications. A regional Paseo staff member can play a critical role within the team by facilitating this type of interaction, being attuned to the political environment, the local landscape, and by retaining the ability to look at both the regional and global scale (meaning they can be the medium through which regional information passes to the global level).
Adding measurable value and deliverables and keeping abreast of local/regional events. It is often difficult to measure aspects that are part of a paseo approach or part of a Paseo’s job, such as the strength of partnerships, influence on stakeholders, and level of engagement with policymakers. There are certain aspects that are measurable and can add quantifiable value:
- Profile and visibility of the stakeholders and researchers involved (Indicators: individual organizational performance evaluations);
- Relationship with media (Indicator: # of times projects/activities mentioned in media);
- Policy engagement (Indicator: # of times research/organization is mentioned by a policy maker or in policy documents);
- Stories of change/outcomes (Indicator: # stories, # photographs, field visit stories, etc. shared with corporate communications)