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How to create core principles for a global GBV prevention programme, to support the deployment of strategy

In this final article we would like to share some tips on how to Create a set of Core Principles for a programme   Prevention+ consortium leaders crafted their core principles at an early stage of programme development. As can be seen below, they were considered alongside the programme Theory of Change:
If you are contemplating creating a set of core principles for your programme, it might seem like a demanding exercise. However, we recommend the process to start with the development of a programme Theory of Change, which will map out the route to long term changes desired through the programme, as well as the mechanisms through which the changes can be brought about.   Defining the core principles is a bit like social sector genomics: the principles must isolate and capture the social sector equivalent of the ‘genetic code’ that differentiates your programme from other types of intervention.   There are different ways to identify the elements that must be captured in a set of core principles, but keep in mind that a programme strategy represents a plan to effectively allocate scarce resources to achieve sustainable social change.   Programme Managers, having first developed a programme Theory of Change, should then ask themselves: how does my organisation allocate its’ resources to create meaningful (i.e. valued by beneficiaries) and sustainable social change? Then try to summarize the answers into a brief set of phrases that capture the essence of your programme’s impact.   Once those ideas have been expressed in phrases, test the ‘core principles’ for their enduring nature. Do they capture what you intend to do for only the next two to three years, or do they capture a more timeless essence: the genetic code of your programmes social impact? Then test the core principles for their communicative power. Are they clear, concise, and memorable?   Finally, test the core principles for their ability to promote and guide action, as we did within the evaluation of Prevention+. In particular, assess whether they exhibit the three attributes of an effective core principle. Do they set boundaries within which people will nonetheless be free to experiment? Do they serve as a test for the wisdom of a particular intervention, especially one that might be reactive, for example to a new funding opportunity, but at the expense of long-term strategy? Will they force trade-offs to be made?   Given the importance of getting your core principles right, it is wise to also gather feedback on these questions from staff and key stakeholders during any piloting period. Once you are satisfied that the statements are accurate and compelling, disseminate them to all programme staff and stakeholders.  

So, what next for the Prevention+ Core Principles – do they need changing or updating?   Well, no strategy is ‘for ever’, nor are the Prevention+ ‘core principles’. However, as the P+ consortium partners now look to the future from 2021 onwards, the essence of the core principles still remain sound. Even though in future the programme partners and strategy may shift, and beneficiary demographics and needs may change, the core principles are unlikely to change unless there is a significant shift in the basic premise and purpose of the programme i.e., Gender Based Violence prevention, which would be equally reflected in a radical change to the programme Theory of Change. Even then, the core principles may need only re-fining or further expanding upon.   However, it may be helpful (and even fun!) from time to time and as part of an internal “devil’s advocacy” process, for Prevention+ managers to divide into groups to continue to ‘critique and defend’ past programme decisions and current programme policies. Even if this serves only to reconfirm what is already being done, it may also provide a platform to identify when change is really needed.   That concludes our series of videos and articles to introduce the Prevention+ programme and some of the important lessons learnt through the final evaluation. However, we still have a few exercises and a final assessment to test your understanding of the material covered, which we encourage you to try!