Mercy Corps AFA: Developing Agile Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL)

An incremental process to synthesize learnings as they emerge from across a diverse program portfolio, and build learning products over time.

Intuitive Knowledge Processes
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Challenge:

How might we get better at learning and knowledge sharing across our programs over time in a simple, obvious and efficient way?

Solution:

Build learning incrementally and nimbly

Description

The AgriFin Accelerate program at Mercy Corps supports a wide variety of programs across three markets in East Africa. By the third year of implementation, program investments began to yield results, but the team was challenged to distill key learnings as they emerged across a wide variety of projects and themes such as youth, women, and digital technology. To address this challenge, the team developed an agile approach to Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL).

In order to shift to an agile MEL model, the team first did a refresh of learning themes and questions to get up to date with current thinking. They then mapped out existing meetings and periodic processes dedicated to learning discussions and activities, to ensure learning conversations were happening on a regular basis and with participation from the right members of the team. The MEL team also introduced new dedicated MEL meetings, and piloted After Action Review sessions to allow for dedicated deep dives into particular learning topics and emerging findings. Findings and insights are regularly consolidated into external knowledge products.

This agile approach was mapped to the existing team structure: the MEL team is responsible for implementing the process and acts as custodians of the tools / processes, while the technical team members are primary content contributors. The participatory nature of content generation improves quality of insights, and the high frequency of meetings enables the emergence of cross-cutting themes or similarities between a diverse set of program investments.

Requirements


See also:

The World Bank: Measuring Knowledge Sharing

External Resource

Learning Loop

Tool

Case Study Development Blueprint

Tool