Systemic thinking for monitoring: Attending to interrelationships, perspectives, and boundaries

This discussion note from USAID presents "attending to interrelationships, multiple perspectives, and boundaries" as a key principle underlying complexity-aware monitoring.

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

Authors and their affiliation

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

Key features

Attending to interrelationships, multiple perspectives, and boundaries is one of three key principles underlying complexity-aware monitoring. This principle emphasizes the importance of using systems concepts when monitoring, regardless of whether the monitoring method is drawn from the systems field, or is a more traditional monitoring method.

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.

This brief overview of the implications of a systems view on thinking about relationships and boundaries of monitoring systems is a helpful introduction. The emphasis on drawing boundaries and who draws those boundaries is particularly helpful,

Why would you recommend it to other people?

People tend to approach monitoring systems through the lens of a particular intervention or through the lens of their organisation. Very little is available about thinking about interrelationships and boundaries beyond these lenses.


Williams, B. & Britt, H. (2014) Systemic thinking for monitoring: Attending to interrelationships, perspectives, and boundaries. USAID. Retrieved from: