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Star Diagram Guidance

Step 2: Principles of effectiveness star exercise

This step enables your organisation to compare its approach against 10 key principles of effectiveness in international development. For further information on a global agreement on key principles of effectiveness (the Istanbul Principles) go to: This star exercise is not meant to be an in-depth review against these principles – this is done through the full assessment benchmarking. At MOT stage this exercise is a topline check on whether your organisation feels it is working under these important principles or whether there are significant weaknesses in relation to any of them – which will help guide your organisation to choose where it starts its full assessment. Again this is ideally done as a group exercise. The following is a suggestion:

  • each person individually scores the organisation against these principles
  • each person’s scores are put on the star diagram (one big one on a flipchart for example) - this can be done confidentially by submitting scores into a box before being put up by the facilitating person
  • any key areas of difference in scoring for any principle is discussed
  • this enables the organisation to get an agreed score for each principle which creates the final star diagram scores
  • these scores are then entered online – where your organisation gets a visual overview of strengths and weakness in regard to the Principles.
  • The definitions for the 10 Principles in the NIDOS Effectiveness toolkit:
    Principle Description Equivalent Istanbul Principle(s)
    We are accountable and transparent, particularly to the communities we support (Accountability) We are accountable to the communities we are working with and aim to support. 3+5
    We are committed to working for sustainable development (Sustainable development) We are committed to working for sustainable development that ensures long term positive improvements in people’s lives. 4+8
    We learn from our experience to improve our performance (Learning) We continuously improve performance based on lessons learnt from regular evaluation of our work and feedback from the communities we work with, our partners, and other stakeholders. 7
    We use our resources efficiently and are open about how we use our resources (Governance) We use our resources efficiently by ensuring sound governance, financial and people management at agency and partner levels. 5
    We are committed to partnerships that promote social justice (Partnerships) We work through genuine partnerships, both with our partners and through them, with the communities we support. While we recognise that North-South partnerships can be inherently unequal we work in solidarity with people to claim their rights and develop respect. 6
    Gender equality Our work is carried out taking into account the needs of both women and men. 2
    Inclusivity Our work is carried out keeping in mind the needs of marginalised people, including disabled people.  
    Do No Harm (DNH) Our programmes and projects are run ensuring that they do no harm.  
    Rights-based Our work is carried out in a way that upholds the rights of the communities we work with. 1
    Climate Resilience Our work is carried out in a way that helps communities adapt to and build resilience to climate change. 4