How do you ensure that lessons learned from evaluations are reaching those who could most benefit? An initiative begun by IEG staff in 2013 is already showing results.

You often hear that evaluation has twin goals: accountability and learning.  In IEG, we have reenergized our efforts to ensure that the goal for learning is placed front and center in our work.  Why and how did we do this – and what can you expect from it?

Origins

The effort gained momentum in our annual staff retreat in 2013, which was organized around the theme of “IEG as a learning organization”.  The motivations for this were many. First, World Bank Group President Jim Kim has committed the Bank to becoming a solutions Bank”, and learning is very much in line with this.  Next, IEG staff had expressed concerns that we had gathered all sorts of great information through our evaluation work that was not making its way to potential users.  Additionally, we felt that we were not adequately connecting to users to help inform our work.  So we were both interested in supply and demand issues around evaluations.  Since monitoring and evaluation planning should start at the beginning of a project, we wanted to make sure that those who could use our information could do so at all stages of a project (policy, program, etc.).

How did it work?

As a first step – as is frequently the case after retreats - we formed a task force.  Often these task forces don’t get very far, but we asked for volunteers from across our departments who were particularly energetic about the topic. Many of them also had knowledge and learning professional backgrounds.  We had a great turnout of volunteers who worked together to brainstorm around identifying problems and finding solutions to set us on the right path.  We organized into subcommittees to address these questions:

  • What should be the mandate and strategy for this effort?
     
  • How do we define a learning organization?  How can we organize this learning effort around what the learning literature recommends?
     
  • What do our internal World Bank Group colleagues and our external clients think about our work? What do they need and want, and how do we meet these demands?
     
  • What are some of our known issues in how we work and what we produce, from a learning lens?  What are some quick wins and what are some longer term issues to address?
     
  • How can we engage more closely with our clients and still maintain our independence?


What are the results and what happens next?

We went through a process of answering these questions, producing recommendations, sharing them with our colleagues and implementing some of the initial recommendations.  Here are some of the commitments and progress so far.

  • Make learning a strategic priority.   We have developed a conceptual framework for learning.  Managers are monitoring the learning efforts of their teams.  We are supporting a new community of practice for World Bank Group professionals working on results and evidence.
     
  • Explicitly pursue a strategic and evidence-based approach to how we supports learning from evaluations in the World Bank GroupWe have committed to this in our formal work program and budget.  The next stage involves developing an updated results framework to monitor this progress. 
     
  • Strengthen the connection between IEG’s explicit strategic objective of promoting learning and how IEG and its evaluations are currently perceived by stakeholders We are developing a new portfolio of IEG learning products and events.  For the products that we currently offer, we are organizing more learning events and guidance notes to share information on methodologies and on how our World Bank Group colleagues can better prepare their self-evaluations which we review, as well as other initiatives.
     
  • Engage upstream in IEG’s work in a way that is consistent with our role and mandate and which encourages greater use of evaluation evidence by operations staff and decision-makers.  While maintaining independence is the bedrock of our work, we are looking for ways to engage with our internal clients at earlier stages in their work, as opposed to at the more typical ex-post stage now. 


This is just a flavor of what we are up to in IEG, and much work lies ahead.  We are determined to meet both goals for evaluation, demonstrating that while our work is certainly about accountability, it is equally about learning.

Comments

Submitted by Ralph Wood on Thu, 02/20/2014 - 23:17

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This looks good tp look at

Submitted by Ian C Davies on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 00:33

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Here's an interesting paper you may wish to take a look at: http://bigpushforward.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The-politics-of-evidence-11-April-20133.pdf

Submitted by Friday on Thu, 07/23/2015 - 06:44

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Cool! That's a clever way of loiokng at it!

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