Discussion Note: Complexity Aware Monitoring

USAID’s Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research (LER) has produced a Discussion Note: Complexity-Aware Monitoring, intended for those seeking cutting-edge solutions to monitoring complex aspects of strategies and projects.  

The paper discusses five particular approaches to complexity-aware monitoring for USAID projects and strategies:
 
1. Sentinel Indicators
2. Stakeholder Feedback
3. Process Monitoring of Impacts
4. Most Significant Change
5. Outcome Harvesting
 
The release of the discussion note marks the launch of a period of experimentation in the Agency designed to build a body of evidence regarding which complexity-aware M&E approaches are most effective in the contexts of USAID programming.

Excerpt

"Complexity-aware monitoring is appropriate for aspects of strategies or projects where cause and effect relationships are poorly understood, thereby making it difficult to identify solutions and draft detailed implementation plans in advance. 

Expected results may also require refinement and revision as strategies and projects unfold. Projects (or parts of projects) that rely heavily on adaptive management to steer effectively in dynamic contexts, and projects that seek to influence social change or innovate to discover solutions are likely candidates for complexity-aware monitoring.

On the other hand, projects that deliver services, or roll out, replicate, or scale up tried and true programming strategies are not generally a good match for these monitoring approaches." (Britt 2013)

Contents

  • When to use complexity aware monitoring
  • Principles of complexity-aware monitoring
  • Five approaches to complexity-aware monitoring
  1. Sentinel Indicators 
  2. Stakeholder Feedback 
  3. Process Monitoring of Impacts 
  4. Most Significant Change 
  5. Outcome Harvesting 

Source

Britt, H. US Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning. (2013). Discussion note: Complexity aware monitoring. Retrieved from website: http://usaidlearninglab.org/library/discussion-note-complexity-aware-mon...

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