Here at Feedback Labs we stress the importance of 3 simple questions: what do people want? Are we helping them get it? If not, what should we be doing differently? These questions lie at the heart of solid constituent feedback loops. But what do they mean for the practice of monitoring and evaluation? That was the topic of a frank conversation convened in May by the World Bank and Feedback Labs.
Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank, and Feedback Labs’s Executive Director Dennis Whittle sat down at RMES Together 2017 for a candid discussion of what an emphasis on serving people means for monitoring and evaluation.
Marie Gaarder, Manager for Human Development and Corporate Evaluations at the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, set the stage for the conversation, describing the emphasis on delivery in the World Bank’s current strategy. Monitoring and evaluation professionals have a key role to play in realizing the Bank’s strategic aspirations. How can we ask of the people we seek to help, are you being served?
It can be a tricky question, especially at a formidable institution like the World Bank. In the course of their discussion, Keith and Dennis recognized that in the past, monitoring and evaluation have often been about compliance, bureaucracy, and meeting output rather than outcome goals.
The term delivery has in fact often encompassed everything except responding to what people themselves say they actually want and need.
Dennis noted that, when he worked at the Bank, evaluators from the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group were seen as performing autopsies on projects. Since the projects were already finished, the evaluations could not make them better. Instead of describing why a deceased patient died, he asked, “How could monitoring and evaluation make a living patient healthier and more productive?”
Now, the World Bank is trying to become more results oriented. Keith highlighted efforts to work more with local teams as well as initiatives like the Science of Delivery team and the Global Delivery Initiative, with the aim of encouraging and enabling continuous learning and adaptation.
Questions posed to Keith and Dennis by audience members emphasized the importance of this shift.
In particular, audience members were concerned with how monitoring and evaluation professionals can partner with local teams on learning-focused evaluations rather than being seen as a policing force.
Small group discussions highlighted that citizens have to be central to program design in order to be central to monitoring and evaluation. Involving citizens during a mid-term review process isn’t enough – they need to be involved earlier and more meaningfully.
The Independent Evaluation Group recently launched a new framework for evaluating service delivery which was presented during the session by Susan Caceres and Anthony Tyrrell, Senior Education Specialist and Consultant at the Independent Evaluation Group. It’s just one step in the World Bank’s efforts to move to monitoring and evaluation that supports the continual learning and adaptation needed for successful service delivery. You can learn more about how the framework is being used by the World Bank here. What else can we be doing to support this shift from autopsy to learning and adaptation?