Performance Improvement: Stages, Steps and Tools
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Performance Improvement Toolkit
Consider Institutional Context

The goal of this stage is to have the PI facilitator and team members understand the institutional and cultural context of the organization you are working with. In considering the institutional context it is necessary, from the beginning, to pay attention to the culture within which the work will take place as well as the goals and mission of the institution with which you are working. If at all possible, it is also important to incorporate the perspective of the clients and communities served by the organization, particularly during the implementation stage of PI. At a minimum, the PI facilitator should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are the national health goals?
  • What is the connection between those goals and the goals of the organization (e.g., what are the connections between the ministry of health and the safe motherhood program)?
  • What is the organizational structure? Who will need to approve of the PI project and its activities? In the next stage you will develop a comprehensive list of stakeholders. But you have to know where to start.
  • Who is/are my client(s)? (You may have both donor and host-country organization clients.) In the next stage you will take steps to understand your clients’ expectations, but first you have to know who they are.
  • What languages will we need to work in?
  • What other agencies are active in the project region(s)? What are they doing? What have they been doing?
  • Have previous projects worked in the same location or with the same subject matter? If so, what was the outcome? What has been tried before, and how well did it work?
  • What are the demographics of the target population? Rural or urban? Men, women or both? Young or old?
  • What are the estimated logistical constraints under which you will work (timeframe, budgets)?
  • How does the cultural context of the organization shape the attitudes and behavior of its potential FP/RH clients?
  • What are some of the unique cultural characteristics of the environment? Do you have spokespersons in the stakeholder group that can help navigate this area?


There are no specific steps for this stage. Rather, use the above list as a guide for your information gathering. If your project team is large, you may want to summarize your findings in a meeting and/or written communication.