On December 13, 2022, Social Impact hosted a webinar in our Evidence for Impact series, “Strengthen Your Team’s CLA Practices: Introducing the CLA Maturity Tool for USAID Implementers.” Through the session, we shared more about the origin and history of the USAID tool upon which this version is based, why and how we updated it, and what resources exist to help partners use it. We also had two implementing partners  – Winrock Int’l and FHI360  – share their experiences as the first to use the new version of the tool with their teams in Vietnam. Watch the webinar recording to learn more!


The Collaborating, Learning & Adapting (CLA) Maturity Tool has been used by USAID operating units since 2015. The tool enables staff to self-assess their current CLA practice and plan ways to improve their internal and external collaboration, organizational learning efforts, and adaptive management practices. Recently, we built on this resource to create the CLA Maturity Tool for implementing partners (IPs) to provide a version that speaks more directly to the experience of international and local organizations.  

For those unfamiliar with it, the CLA Maturity Tool provides a clear picture of what systematic, intentional, and resourced integration of CLA can look like on a series of physical cards. Working through the content on the cards together, teams can catalyze conversations about CLA, and: 

  • Self-Assess: assess the current state of their CLA practice across the dimensions in the CLA Framework 
  • Establish Vision: determine the aspirational future state for their CLA practice across the same dimensions 
  • Action Plan: through prioritization, identify where and how to focus future efforts to strengthen their CLA practice 
  • Track Progress: gain a snapshot in time and, when repeated in subsequent years, can help track changes in CLA integration over time 

Example of Maturity Tool key concepts and spectrum cards for new Learning subcomponent of Contextual Awareness (updated from Scenario Planning).

In Vietnam, we introduced the implementing partner version of the CLA Maturity Tool to several USAID/Vietnam partners in a leadership development program. Participants from Winrock International and FHI 360 used the tool with their teams and shared their experience with us:  

  • Winrock International, the first IP to use the tool, integrated it into their annual work planning process for their USAID Reducing Pollution activity in Vietnam. They shared that the tool helped their team identify strategic priorities for growth and development over the next year in the areas of Internal Collaboration and Adaptive Management. Chief of Party Brian Bean reported that the tool “was simple to use, and made it fun to have an open conversation about what was working well and where we wanted to improve.”  

The Winrock USAID Reducing Pollution team self-assessing their internal collaboration with the CLA Maturity Tool at their FY23 Annual Planning Workshop. Photo by Winrock

  • FHI 360’s USAID Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) team in Vietnam incorporated the CLA Maturity Tool into their pause and reflect approach as part of a broad organizational change effort to improve cohesion, innovation and effectiveness.

FHI 360 EpiC Vietnam team members discuss and prioritize subcomponents of the CLA Maturity Toolkit. Photo by FHI 360

If you are interested in facilitating the maturity tool process for your team or organization, see these helpful facilitation resources on Learning Lab here. 

So, what’s different?
Having been involved in the creation of the original USAID version of the tool, we were committed to aligning this implementing partner version as closely to the original as possible. We started by removing all USAID-specific references (such as portfolio reviews, references to Mission staff or operating units, etc.) and making it more general to organizations working in international development. Additional changes include: 

The implementing partner version of the CLA Maturity Tool is currently available in English and Vietnamese. If you are interested in translating the tool into other languages, please contact us at msalib@socialimpact.com and jziegler@socialimpact.com to coordinate and share with the wider USAID Learning Lab community.  


Co-Authors: Monalisa Salib, Deputy Chief of Party for USAID Learns, and Jessica Ziegler, Senior Technical Specialist, Social Impact, Inc.



Cover Photo by: FHI 360