BOOST : Building On Our Strengths Together

CERAR has developed its own method of mentorship in capacity strengthening, BOOST. Can you summarize the BOOST method in a few words?
«”Lessons are learned only if a change occurs!” The method BOOSTBuilding On Our Strengths Together – gradually creates a climate of organizational change. Through close mentorship, integrated into day-to-day responsibilities, adapted to the context, culture and to the association, BOOST helps the organization to put into practice lessons and pivotal changes.
What are the different stages of this method BOOST ?
BOOST starts with a 360° self-assessment of the organization to identify strengths and suggestions for improvement. At the end of the 360 ​° self-assessment, based on the feasibility criteria, the organization selects 3 pivotal changes to be made within 6 months. A concrete action plan determined by the team and empowering it, according to the “small change” theory, organises the achievement of the 3 pivotal changes. After a period of 6 to 9 months, the progress made on the 3 pivotal changes is assessed. If these are made, 3 new pivotal changes are selected. If, on the other hand, the results are not yet achieved, the pivotal changes are adapted or replaced. 

Thus, CERAR seeks to facilitate successful experiences based on the small change theory’ within the organization, the basis for the gradual creation of a climate of  change.

How is the methodology BOOST alternative and innovative, complementary to other capacity strengthening methods? ?
Traditional approaches tend for the most part to reinforce technical and ad hoc knowledge, often in a sectoral approach. They are aimed at individuals rather than structures and therefore as soon as the well-trained individual leaves the structure loses the benefit of training. Many training courses are used for ad hoc projects and the content, method and pace are determined primarily by whoever delivers or sponsors the training. 

CERAR’s approach breaks with this classic, somehow “plug and play” approach. BOOST supports and mentors local teams in implementing their learning outcomes in their everyday practice, based on gradual change by valuing existing experiences and knowledge.

What is the genesis of this approach?
Since its creation in 2013, the CERAR team has worked mainly for and with local entities (NGOs, Groups and Communities) in various countries such as Palestine, Colombia, India, Lebanon and the Central African Republic. The imbalance in the valuation of knowledge, access to information and the lack of confidence in existing capacities made us think of ways to strengthen these structures while respecting at the utmost their specificity.
Why a climate of change based on successful experiences rather than ad hoc training as needed?
CERAR seeks to create a gradual process, a climate of change and an endogenous learning attitude. To achieve this, it is necessary to strengthen the structure at all levels and not only for senior staff or on the basis of short-term projects. 

BOOST, through success experiences, shows that change is possible and desirable and that learning can be continuous and thus create a climate of change. Our method supports organizations to regain self-confidence, in their achievements and in their assets. They can thus become the driving force of their own change.

BOOST offers long-term change, but projects last 6-9 months. Isn't that contradictory? Practically, how do you do this?
The project is a first pilot phase to start a gradual and progressive process. The 360 ​​° self-assessment at the start helps determine the pivotal changes in the organization. According to the spider web theory, the organization chooses 3 pivotal changes based on the criteria of feasibility with available external or internal means. An action plan and the contextualized proximity mentorship (CPM) from CERAR then make it possible to make these changes. 

After 6 months, progress is assessed and new pivotal changes are determined for a further period (usually 6 months). These cycles of change are repeated as often as necessary, so that the process of change becomes a habit rather than a project. Experiences of success build confidence in the capacity for change.

What is the spider web method?
If someone wants to move a spider web, he/she determines three pivotal  points to lift the web without tearing it. The same logic is put in place in the organizational change of BOOST. By wanting to change too many elements at the same time, we risk tearing the fabric of associations apart, putting too much pressure and making ownership of the process impossible. If, on the contrary, the association determines three pivotal changes at one time, it sets up a gradual and self-manageable process.
What is a 360° self-assessment
This is an assessment carried out with members of the association and in the areas of the functioning and results of the organization. This makes it possible to have a picture of the association as a whole and thus determine the pivotal points. Obviously, BOOST’s 360° self-assessment is contextualized and takes into account the culture, resources and organizational specifics.

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Why a 360 ° self-assessment with the whole team rather than an external audit?
It is important to ensure ownership of the process by the organization in order to determine the pivotal points of change. Following the principles of localization, our BOOST method hIn fragile contexts, achieving total autonomy in the short or medium term is a bit of an utopia. The capacity strengthening  process is incremental and cannot take place outside of context, activities or partnerships.

Stakeholders have a lot to gain by building equitable, efficient and quality partnerships that will allow real input and mutual reinforcement.

Why focusing on partnerships rather than making organizations independent?
In fragile contexts, achieving total autonomy in the short or medium term is a bit of an utopia. The capacity strengthening  process is incremental and cannot take place outside of context, activities or partnerships. Stakeholders have a lot to gain by building equitable, efficient and quality partnerships that will allow real input and mutual reinforcement.
Why giving a place to local knowledge?
The final objective is not to transform the local organisation into a mini international NGO, but to help it flourish in its specificities and strengths. Knowledge is complementary and all stakeholders benefit from these complementarities. The ultimate goal is the co-production of knowledge.

At the heart of the challenges of localizing aid,
CERAR aims to put local voices and knowledge
at the center of its capacity strengthening  initiatives.