Why are we launching TESTING 123?
1. We want to fill a gap in learning and documentation in the Transparency and Accountability (T&A) community of practice.
Monitoring, evaluation, and learning that comes out of the thousands of T&A “projects” fielded globally each year has yielded many exciting stories to tell. But when you dig deeper to try to understand whether meaningful reform came of these interventions, and whether those behind the project had a clear theory of change in mind, you often come up empty. As a result, successes and failures in the field go unnoticed by others, leading to cycles of fads and duplicative investments. We want to learn what has the potential to work and what doesn’t, and document why.
2. We want to fill a gap in funding for T&A project ideas.
We want to offer micro grants as an alternative to traditionally larger and longer-term funding. We want to be risk seekers by investing in ideas that may have no prior record of working but have the potential to do so. We want to identify, invest in and document action quickly, and iterate on our own processes continuously and in accordance with what we see works and what doesn’t.
3. We want to find new methodologies and technologies that help reform minded individuals around the world achieve the impact that they strive for.
Governments and civil society alike wish to promote positive change through increasing transparency and enhancing accountability. We want to help these reformers learn as we do about approaches and tools that through their creation, use and trial, show potential for impact.
What is our investment strategy?
We want to test quickly, fail forward, and learn iteratively.
In other words, we aim to operate without focusing too much on process so as to document and iterate quickly. We will not use logframes or have bureaucratic requirements.
We suspect that due to uncertainty in practice, the chance of success for the ideas that we invest in may be low. However, we plan to take advantage of these cases by documenting experiences with the objective of systematic learning to inform next steps. In this way, we plan to learn from the "less than success" cases and "fail forward".
What do we expect to gain from this experiment?
By identifying and investing in innovative ideas in T&A, we hope to learn the following:
- What new, overlooked, or unidentified ideas exist that may or may not work in practice
- Which ideas show potential for impact given seed capital for testing
- Which ideas do not show potential for impact after being tested
- What others in the T&A community think based on the results from these experiments
We want to learn about new ideas and bring them out of the woodwork by providing them with the capital that they need to test their idea out in practice. We want to share what we learn from experimentation with the greater transparency community.
We do not anticipate ‘success’ with all the ideas that we invest in, but we do expect to see them test a specific theory of change. This will contribute to our growing body of knowledge on what assumptions are fair to have in T&A efforts, and what outcomes are achievable based on them.