At its heart, the Guide Michelin represents an evaluation system par excellence. It integrates the patrons, the end-users of the data, with the restaurant, those who deliver goods and services – and I would argue above all – the independent evaluators. Together, this creates a system to manage for and produce excellence.

As evaluators, we often face people who think evaluation is a nerdy subject, a contentious field… that our work seems peripheral to real operational work, if not irrelevant.

But in reality, we are all evaluators, and we evaluate all the time.

Let’s take a simple example: Food!

Many of us are familiar with the Guide Michelin. It is arguably the leading guide to the best hotels and restaurants in the world. The guide is recognized by the top restaurants and their patrons as a mark of excellence, and customers trust it when choosing a special meal for a wonderful occasion.

From the perspective of the restaurant chef, the staff and owners, and probably even suppliers, the Guide Michelin is the independent evaluator. For them, the guide represents the stress of being assessed against a tough standard, the thrill of being part of a competition, and the motivation that this brings to pay attention to every detail and deliver the best!

At its heart, the Guide Michelin represents an evaluation system par excellence. It integrates the patrons, the end-users of the data, with the restaurant, those who deliver goods and services – and I would argue above all – the independent evaluators. Together, this creates a system to manage for and produce excellence.

The restaurants – chefs and all staff – know what it means. They fear it but also like the challenge of achieving a Michelin star, and it motivates them to pay attention – to monitor and self-evaluate – everything from the quality of the food that’s bought, to the way it is prepared and served, to the attention that guests receive throughout the experience, and the décor of the restaurant. It is not just a plate of food that is served, it is much more! If it were just about getting some food, people would go to a fast-food place. Results, in this case, are measured by a different standard.

So what can development institutions like the World Bank Group take from the Guide Michelin? After all, we don’t serve food or the experience of an enchanted evening.

Above all we should think of client satisfaction - the result that does well beyond the project approved, the money disbursed, or the technical assistance provided. As international organizations, we are facing circumstances of ever increasing challenges. Multilateralism, together with democracy, is being put to extraordinary stress tests, from leaders and populations. This means, development cooperation and multilateralism will need to demonstrate who benefited from policies that have been reformed, interventions that have been approved, and infrastructure that has been built.  Has all of this brought about change in people’s lives, and if so for the better, broad-based and sustainably so?

That requires we have internal systems to monitor, measure, assess what we do, what the results are, where the bottlenecks lie and constantly learn and adapt, and transparently explain who has gained and who has not. And that is what monitoring, self-evaluation, and independent evaluation is about.

What would it take to create a Guide Michelin-like experience in development?

For evaluators, it requires that we ensure our evaluations close an information gap, provide a credible source of information, and are timely. Equally important, there needs to be openness and receptivity among our clients – leaders, policy-makers, and development practitioners – to accept that things are not “just perfect”. They can and must improve. In this process, evaluation needs to and does step back, take a different perspective to help our those at the forefront of delivering policy change and programs to gain insights they would not have given their day-to-day pressures.

It is in sharing the goal of delivering the best possible results for client countries and the people affected by interventions where development practitioners and evaluators should find common ground.

And it is for this goals that it is essential that there is a culture and a system to pay attention, observe, track and record progress, fix problems as they arise, and step back at the end and reflect on what we have created. And all of that to understand whether the human endeavor, the development of humanity is progressing towards goals set for 2030, and what role our deliberate efforts are playing in that process.

View Caroline Heider's full presentation on this topic:

 

Comments

Submitted by Warin on Sat, 03/11/2017 - 17:04

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Stimulating piece, thank you. Another feature of Michelin that it effective as an "evaluation system" is the 3 star rating. Everyone can tell immediately what the verdict is, and where one stands relative to the competition ("league tables"). Is this translatable to world of development evaluations? Not without controversy I imagine!

Submitted by MarCello on Fri, 11/03/2017 - 10:16

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Well, this is true that Michelin is an evaluation system par excellence, but you also need to see its problems. For example, that it stifles risk-taking, as Michelin chefs are scared to try new things in fear of losing a star (sound familiar to development field).

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