Institutional learning and networking

The SDC promotes a culture of individual and organisational learning both in-house and in its partnerships. Learning is not a goal in itself but rather a means to improving quality and effectiveness. To strengthen the culture of learning SDC know-how is conserved in networks and continuously developed. The promotion and maintenance ofprofessional skills is one of the main challenges facing all development agencies – be it in terms of their own staff, or partner organisations.

Ideas freshly minted in an office or a laboratory often prove disappointing in the field. Every good solution to a development problem needs to be adapted to conditions on the terrain. That said, there is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel and squandering valuable resources.

Learning for better development also means adapting proven methods to one’s own circumstances, seeing if it works, reflecting on successes and failures and where necessary making corrections. Equally important from the learning perspective is to share one’s own experiences, take advantage of the experiences of others through exchanges, consider new ideas, question one’s own rules, organisational procedures and structures and adapt them, making improvements and passing them on.

Maintaining a culture of learning

At the SDC learning is supported in all areas by means of special forms of organisation, opportunities for exchange and reflection, the development and dissemination of methodological instruments for more effectively designed learning and business processes, and an appropriate electronic infrastructure. Expertise is maintained, developed and exchanged through networks. The SDC continually updates its learning methods and makes this experience accessible to the public.

Bringing experts together in a network

The main task of the SDC networks is the development and dissemination of good practices in a given field, such as water or management questions, or finances: polishing and consolidating one’s own experiences, adopting others’ good ideas and promoting innovation. The SDC constantly develops its networks and provides access to its know-how.

The SDC networks link headquarters staff, field staff, the staff of partner organisations and researchers. Each network is coordinated and managed through a “Focal Point“. Members attend international network meetings on an annual or biannual basis. They exchange information via electronic platforms and ensure that it can be accessed on the Internet.

The SDC’s thematic networks are:



Climate, Energy & Environment

Conflict & Human Rights

Decentralisation & Local governance

Disaster Risk Reduction


Employment & Income


Migration and Development

Food security


Gender Equality

Development policy

Cash projects

Debate about effectiveness

Combating poverty


Knowledge Management – on the Road to becoming a Learning Organization
Flyer (general alignment) (PDF, 2 Pages, 105.0 kB, English)

Story Guide: Building bridges using narrative techniques
Story-telling aid
(PDF, 48 Pages, 1.8 MB, English)

Knowledge Management in Practice: The Five Principles
Flyer (PDF, 2 Pages, 129.8 kB, English)

Community of Practice (CoP) – from own to shared knowledge
Flyer (PDF, 2 Pages, 402.9 kB, English)

Flyer Story Telling: Building bridges using narrative techniques
Flyer (PDF, 2 Pages, 964.0 kB, English)