How to avoid frustration

Most often, people tend to measure success in relation to the results they see in the short term. This may prove discouraging if you have not set up feasible goals. Similarly important is to keep an open attitude and be flexible enough to adjust your initial plan. Why not trying a pilot project before implementing a participatory policy? Check the following section to learn how to avoid frustration when advancing citizen engagement.

Setting realistic goals

The key to success is setting attainable objectives. Developing engagement initiatives will be valuable provided they do not threaten SAI independence nor erode CSOs’ expectations, but they must be feasible, as well.

How to set realistic objectives:

  • Evaluate the context and opportunities to effectively engage.
  • Ensure comprehensive planning, detailing expected goals and outcomes.
    • All actors involved in policy making must share their expectations. Effective policies are those that decentralize decisions and incorporate multiple views from a wide range of stakeholders. There are no single solutions or approaches. Therefore, exchanging insights will help identify areas for coordinated action that match everyone´s ambitions.
    • Similarly, all participants should think about immediate outcomes and long-term goals. Engagement does not emerge overnight. Enhancing commitment is about setting a joint path and building relationships over time. Some outcomes may be signs of partial success, and they should be noted so as to advance further goals.

Openness and Flexibility

Flexible strategies are the core of success. Policy implementation is not a one-way process. Several challenges must be faced, entailing difficulties that may hinder either achievements or opportunities for further pursuits. Unexpected outcomes, unpredicted behaviors from actors involved, enhanced or diminished support from stakeholders, imbalance of resources—all are aspects that should be taken into account when advocating for engagement policies.

Adjusting strategies according to context and challenges faced along policy implementation is something both SAIs and CSOs must note. But difficulties can be turned into opportunities for improved results. Deviating from the initial goals does not imply failure but adaptation to changing circumstances. Unexpected outcomes can be signs of partial success in areas in which no actions were planned, and they offer opportunities to advance further engagement. Therefore, all actors should be fully aware of the fact that objectives may be redefined along the process. SAIs and citizens must sustain dialogue and joint problem-solving sessions. The path to enhancing effective policies involves trial and error. Participants are wise to be open minded and discuss alternative strategies and outcomes when difficulties come up or even when the course of events brings about unexpected opportunities.

Developing pilot projects

Policy implementation often entails trial and error. Rather than develop ambitious plans at the very beginning, participants would be wise to set in motion pilot projects. Pilot projects are drafted at the planning stage of comprehensive policies, and the results can contribute to assessing the extent of the costs involved and to identifying other unexpected costs of citizen engagement.

See Nepal

In Nepal, a multi-stakeholder task force has been created to determine the best way for systematically engaging stakeholders in public audits. A series of pilot performance audits will be developed, with CSO participation, and those will help to determine the required resources and capacity-development needs.

Source: Stock-take report OCDE 2013.

See also: “A Paradigm Shift in Auditing in Nepal” (World Bank 2013).

Any comments? Please notify us here.


Reed, Q. (2013): “Maximising the efficiency and impact of Supreme Audit Institutions through engagement with other stakeholders”, U4 Issue Nº9, Bergen, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre - Chr. Michelsen Institute.

UNDP (2001): “Governance and Accountability: Progress Report on the Implementation of the Forum’s Eight Principles of Accountability and the Development of Best Practices for Legislatures”, Briefing Paper for FEMM meeting.

GIZ-INTOSAI (2013): Supreme Audit Institutions. Accountability for Development.

O'Meally, S. (2013): “Mapping Context for Social Accountability: A Resource Paper”, Social Development Department, Washington DC: The World Bank.

Velásquez Leal, L. F. (2012): “Manual: Good practices for approaching citizenship”, OLACEFS´ Commission on Citizen Participation.

Heifetz, R., Grashow, A. et al (2009): The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World, Boston, Harvard Business Press.

Contreras, M. (2013): “The World Bank Institute’s Leadership for Development Program”, Presentation Leadership 4D – Catalyzing Change, WBI.

Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Heifetz, R., Grashow, A. and Marty Linsky (2009): The Theory Behind the Practice. A Brief Introduction to the Adaptive Leadership Framework, Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Robert A. Neiman, “Execution Plain and Simple: Twelve Steps to Achieving Any Goal On Time and On Budget” 2004 pg. 105. Robert Neiman was a partner at Schaffer Consulting.

Osiche, Mark. “Applying Rapid Results Approach to Local Service Delivery: Emerging Issues, Lessons and Challenges from Nairobi City Council” in Local Governance & Development Journal Volume 2 Number 2, December 2008: pages 24-39.