In this blog post Nara Weigel reflects on how evaluations can promote learning. More specifically, she shares her experience with designing and conducting a learning-oriented evaluation process for organisational learning.
By Nara Weigel, Helvetas
Project evaluations are an integral part of the project cycle and are conducted regularly in the otherwise often unpredictable context of development cooperation. Among other things, this is why some say evaluations are a perfect moment for learning. While learning from evaluations is easier to promote and measure at the project level, aggregating evaluation findings across an entire organisation and ensuring that this leads to learning and adapted practices is extremely difficult. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation decided to tackle this challenge in 2012 by conducting a meta evaluation to examine systematically whether findings from project evaluations were leading to changes at the level of the organisation.
The meta evaluation identified recurrent thematic and process related findings of project evaluations (conducted between 2009-2011) and proposed mechanisms to improve the translation of such findings into new practices at the organisational level. In a nutshell:
• Two types of recurrent thematic findings were identified: 1) Working area specific findings, e.g. on projects in the areas of water and infrastructure, climate change and environment, governance and peace, etc.; and 2) across working areas regarding sustainability, relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and gender. While overall results were encouraging, some recurrent thematic challenges were also identified, e.g. regarding sustainability, working at scale, partnership relations and knowledge management issues.
• Recurrent procedural and methodological findings were also analysed. One important finding was that even though it is correct that evaluation reports focus on challenges and areas for improvement (“learning from mistakes paradigm”), they should also highlight positive findings. Many staff members stressed that in their experience, such positive findings or good practices were not considered enough in evaluations and that this was a missed opportunity also in terms of making evaluations more learning-oriented.
Find out more about the results of the meta evaluation and how it was conducted by watching this short video:
The meta evaluation itself was an important moment for learning and was designed to provide space for reflection and testing new methods for learning from evaluations, e.g. through the use of videos and the intranet to encourage remote participation. The innovative and participatory evaluation was well received by all staff. Overall it was encouraging in terms of results, even though many challenges were identified.
You can download the executive summary of the meta evaluation and find more information on the methodologies used at http://helvetas.org/achievements/learning_from_evaluation
Connecting to peers, being exposed to new thinking and exchanging experiences are most valuable to members of the Democratization, Decentralization and Local Governance network (DLGN). Storytelling on knowledge sharing and learning within the DLGN network suggests that this networking translates into concrete innovations in the field. (more…)
The new e-learning platform Project Cycle Management interactive (PCMi) is online. It’s a flexible platform for blended and self-directed learning. Rate your competencies for an individual study plan or access the material for further reading. (more…)
In the perspective of the Swiss Cooperation Office Southern Africa the networks did arrive. Reto Wieser, Director of Cooperation summarizes how networks make a difference for his team. And he points out some suggestions how networked learning and collaboration can be further strengthened trough the active implication of the Directors of Cooperation and the members. (more…)
Dynamic Facilitation is a facilitation approach addressing difficult or even complex issues. By taking notes on 4 flip charts the moderator supports the conversation and helps the group to make the shift towards a solution. (more…)
How to prepare memorable presentations? Simplify it and make it visual. Inspiring and memorable presentations are simple, clear and meaningful. While preparing have your audience in mind and make it visual and easy for them to follow. (more…)
A recent lunch event at SDC in Bern sparked some interesting thinking. It featured guest speaker Kerstin Kude-Osman from the Academy for International Cooperation, a part of the German development agency GIZ. Kerstin told us about the recently developed Joint Learning Journey (JLJ) method, which is a way to bring small groups of people involved and interested in a particular set of issues together, to come up with effective and innovative ways of doing things better. (more…)
We were blogging from the Workshop on Rural Development organized by the SDC Eastern & Southern Africa Division in Lilongwe Malawi. (more…)
Videos, podcasts and infographics – are becoming increasingly important in our daily information work. Whether surprising or bold, instructive or combative, they cover different information needs and are very versatile. Have you ever searched for an infographic or a video, which explains a developmental topic easily? And how can it be found at short notice? (more…)
Complex situations resist our analytical capacities, they are unpredictable. In these situations, we cannot base our decisions on data. Hence, our decisions often based on intuition, gut feeling, and rules of thumb. Through continuous learning, we can train our intuition and become better equipped to manage our projects in complex environments. (more…)
By Nadia von Holzen, SDC
Learning has many facets, colours and forms. Tracey Martin wrote a poem on his very personal personal reflection on learning, what it means to him, how it happens and how incredible precious it is.
Are you planning a face-face meeting to explore key issues and design action plans? The Open Space methodology would definitively be an option.
Read how the key elements of Open Space – the circle, the joint agenda setting, and the free discussion space – could create momentum to advance important issues. (more…)
The importance of knowledge brokers for learning in SDC or why “Manejo Integrado de Plagas” (in engl. Integrated Pest Management) was the most downloaded document of SDC websites. (more…)
By Nadia von Holzen, SDC
A blog is conversation. We want to make the reading as well as the writing of the SDC Learning & Networking Blog faster to have time for the conversation.
Comic about the blogger and the christmas post:
Make your face-to-face meetings more learner-centered to foster stronger commitment and greater learning. Networks’ face-to-face meetings are a great opportunities for learning. What does it need to make it a learning happening? How do adults learn? What are the key ingredients to be taken into account already at the planning stage? (more…)
Are you at the point to start planning for your next face-to-face workshop, seminar or learning event of your network? Kick-start your planning with a short checklist to gear up your learning event. (more…)
For you as development professionals change is your daily basis. You aim for, provoke and witness change processes. You steer projects and manage programmes. You take care that you partner organisations are strengthened. You are part of changing teams. Have you ever thought about what change is for you? And what it needs to effectively support change? (more…)
Participatory Video has been around for almost 50 years, and is resurfacing as an area of interest for development practitioners. This is partly fuelled by increased accessibility of technologies for self-made videos. In this Blog, Riff Fullan from Helvetas shows what PV does have to offer those who are interested in promoting greater engagement of people whose lives are most affected by emerging global economic, environmental, political and social realities. Let’s have a look… (more…)
Horizontal learning enables communities to share best practices within and across communities. In this blog post Tommaso Tabet, SDC agency in Dhaka, in collaboration with engaged HLP Friends, explain that it is a tool for sharing good practices, replicating and liking them, and therefore has much in common with the world’s most popular social media. (more…)
The next week’s NeuroLeadership Summet in New-York. A brain friendly f2f meeting. (more…)