‘How we work’ is informed by and adapted to the needs and capabilities of decision makers, and to the characteristics of the problems they face. Our approach is made up of two ‘virtuous cycles’ that intersect through case studies with clients and stakeholders, to ensure that the tools and processes developed are suited to the decision-maker context (Figure 1). The top cycle depicts the ‘concepts, design and evaluation’ aspects of our work and the bottom cycle involves the activities that promote adoption and impact.
The components of the top cycle need to be sufficiently well-designed and functional before stakeholders are likely to adopt them. This is because of their novelty and because they require decision makers to ‘do things differently’, which can be risky. Hence much of the efforts of the EAP initiative have been invested in testing and co-developing concepts, tools and processes in case-study settings with trusted progressive stakeholders.
The EAP initiative has steadily increased its focus on the lower cycle over the last couple of years with much of the work being done in applied projects designed to test concepts and processes with decision makers to solve pressing problems being faced today. Importantly, efforts continue to be maintained in the top cycle to ensure lessons from across the projects are distilled and integrated to further the development of EAP theory, tools and processes and the building of transdisciplinary capabilities.
This cross-project learning and capacity building is enabled by a monitoring and learning platform comprising an array of tools and processes for facilitating, capturing and integrating lessons from across all case studies. This is depicted in the second Figure, where the learning platform of the EAP initiative is the ‘hub’ and the ‘spokes’ represent the diversity of domains (contextual or disciplinary) into which our work is currently or could potentially be applied. Time for reflection and discussion of ideas and experiences amongst our stakeholders and the EAP team is prioritised.