Good Practicesgood_practices.jpg

Inspired by SDC Learning&Networking

Brief Description

The term Good Practice is used to denominate knowledge about what works well in international development and humanitarian cooperation. Good Practice is situated on a middle level of abstraction: above the contextually determined practice of concrete action, and below text book generalizations. Good Practice is a learning-loop backed up by organisational measures: It comprises performing a specific practice, reflecting on and documenting this practice. Good Practice takes into account own experiences, the international state of the art and organisational politics. Good Practice is understood as quality performance in operations, in strategic partnerships, and in policy dialogue.
(Source SDC Good Technical Practice)


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When to use

The sharing of good practices is one of the first things carried out in a knowledge management initiative. In most organisations it is already being done to some degree. This often begins with common practices such as instruction manuals or ‘how to’ guidelines. The next step from there is to identify and share good practices.
The essence of identifying and sharing good practices is to learn from others and to re-use knowledge. The biggest benefit consists in well developed processes based on accumulated experience.
Most good practice programmes combine two key elements: explicit knowledge such as a good practices database (connecting people with information), and methods for sharing tacit knowledge such as communities of practice (connecting people with people).
The best way of sharing good practices is ‘on the job’ and so communities and personal contact with others who have used the good practice is a key to success.
(Source SDC Learning&Networking)

How to use

1. Identify users’ requirements.
2. Identify good practices worth being shared.
3. Document good practices (title and short abstract, profile of the good practice, context, description of processes and steps, lessons learned, and links to resources and key people).
4. Validate good practices with convincing results in a new context.
5. Disseminate and apply good practices.
6. Develop a supporting infrastructure
(Source SDC Learning&Networking)

Tips and Lessons Learnt

A common misperception is that good practices can ''live'' in a database. In other words, once identified and stored in a database, they can be retrieved by anyone and from anywhere, in order to be ''replicated'' in similar contexts and situations. The problem with such thinking is that it sees good practices as objects that are not process- and context-bound, which is what they are. Good practices are not objects, and can not quite be captured in documents, because they can not be understood unless in the process or context of the bigger system within which they take place. It is more useful to think of good practices as patterns which, whilst being context-specific, can also transcend their context and be useful to finding solutions to similar or entirely different challenges and problems. Such a transcending of contexts happens as good practices are shared within communities and as part of other peer-to-peer relationships. Then, the good practice patterns are understood and opportunities for using the same approaches are identified at best.

Examples & Stories

(add your story)

Regula Bäbler, SDC
“In our section (controlling), we use Good Practice mainly to enhance the quality standard in the annual programmes. We select parts of various annual programmes that are of exemplary quality and present them on the Intraweb, together with a short comment. Short and specific is our slogan.”

Who can tell me more?

  • Nadejda Loumbeva (nadejda.loumbeva [at]
  • Sophie Treinen (sophie.treinen [at]

Related Methods / Tools / Practices


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collaborate, communication, creation, synthesize, dissemination, expertise, knowledgesharing, sustainability, scaleability

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