Know before you grow – tips from supporting program replication by Jessica Manta-Meyer

Greetings! Jessica Manta-Meyer here, a Director at Public Profit, a consulting firm helping mission-driven organizations measure and manage what matters. Have you thought about creating a replication manual, but didn’t know where to start? Or worried you’ll put in a titanic amount of time creating a manual to train staff at new sites, only to see it sink into obscurity or go out-of-date? Fear not! I’m here to offer a few tips to help you avoid the icebergs, and maybe even make it possible for others to replicate that awesome program!

Hot Tips:

  • Identify what is loose vs. tight in your program. Every program has elements that are essential, and ones that can be customized. The replication site will inevitably be running the model program in a new context. Document what essential elements help your program thrive, and let the replication site adjust the other elements to fit their needs.
  • Make explicit what is implicit. Replication manuals aren’t just the “what” and “how” of a program, but the “why” as well. Often program staff understand the “why” on such a deep level that it feels self-evident. When you make space to highlight the “why” it makes a stronger case for the more concrete elements of “what” and “how.”
  • Know your audience. I bet everything you’ve ever read about writing has told you this one, thus it holds true for replication manuals too! Don’t leave it up to the partner program to sort out who should be using your manual. Manuals for front line service providers will read differently than manuals meant for their managers. Figure out which group you are targeting and write to that.
  • Link to related sources. It is not efficient, or practical, to try and re-create every training agenda, background document, or handout in a program’s universe. Link to them instead! This ensures that whenever these items are updated, your partner program will be on the same page.

Rad Resources:

  • Learning For Action has a great write up and corresponding tool to help programs implement with strategic coherence.
  • Public Profit has created a resource that outlines the tips above and provides examples for each. Check it out here. (Bonus: it also includes an amazing Carl Sagan quote!)

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Know before you grow – tips from supporting program replication by Jessica Manta-Meyer”

  1. Hello Jessica,

    After reading your article I had a few questions. My first question is do you think that there could be some privacy issues surrounding the creation of a replication manual? Could privacy issues result in issues regarding how complete the replication manual can be?

    Another question that I have for you is regarding the why aspect. What are some tips that you can give to people regarding how to make the why aspect clear? I often find that the why can be be lost in translation. Do you think that the important pieces of your program will influence the why aspect of your replication manual.

    Overall I found your article to be very insightful in helping with the starting stages of a program replication. I think it is key to really understand what to replicate prior to actually trying to do so.

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