Synchronizing monitoring with the pace of change in complexity

This discussion note from USAID argues for synchronizing monitoring with the pace of change as a key principle underlying complexity-aware monitoring.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Jo Hall.

Authors and their affiliation

Hummelbrunner R. and Britt H. US Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning.

Key features

Synchronizing monitoring with the pace of change ensures that information is available at the right time to inform adaptive management in dynamic settings. For complex aspects of projects, the trajectory is unknown or uncertain, and the pace may be variable. How do you synchronize to the pace of change when the pace of change is not knowable in advance? This paper provides suggestions for dealing with this conundrum.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This resource page is an output of the Global Partnership for Better Monitoring - a co-creation and research project supported by UNICEF. BetterEvaluation is working with UNICEF to try and improve our collective understanding and practice of the monitoring function. The initiative focuses on trying to elevate the monitoring function to make it more visible and to provide information about how to plan, conduct and use monitoring activities well. You can read more about this initiative on the Monitoring thematic page.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Monitoring frequency is often dictated by donor reporting cycles rather than consideration of the pace and trajectory of change. This paper summarises some of the latest thinking around non-linear change trajectories and the need for ‘agile’ monitoring. It includes a few methods, in particular the use of lead indicators which can give information in advance about the direction of change. I think it is helpful as most advice is about designing ‘static’ monitoring frameworks, which are usually less useful.


USAID. (2014). Synchronizing monitoring with the pace of change in complexity. Retrieved from: