To sum up, looking back at my seven years at IEG, it has been a period of transformational change, but one that was gradual, organic, iterative. No big blue-prints, no fancy strategy documents, but small steps in the same direction.

To sum up, looking back at my seven years at IEG, it has been a period of transformational change, but one that was gradual, organic, iterative. No big blue-prints, no fancy strategy documents, but small steps in the same direction.

The simplicity of the strategy is, in my view, an overwhelming asset. It kept us aligned to where we wanted to go without being tied up into tactics that needed to change as opportunities arose.

Ultimately, what matters is the extent to which our evaluations are used by our stakeholders: the Board, World Bank Group Management, and the frontline staff and their counterparts in client countries who implement projects on the ground. Therefore, it is important to have a clear goal—in our case that of Influencing Change—and a strategy that helps increase that influence. In our case, it focused on bettering ourselves:

  • How IEG makes choices about its evaluation program to ensure stakeholder voices are considered and strategic alignment is achieved;
  • How we undertake our evaluations to ensure they are credible and provide for engagements that help with learning through evaluation; and
  • How we share evaluation insights from evaluations to enhance learning and promote follow-up to recommendations.

A positive side-effect of this approach has been an increasingly self-reflective approach to our work. IEG regularly reviews its own products and processes to introduce improvements on an ongoing basis, and seeks feedback from stakeholders in the process. Practicing what we preach is key to ensuring continuous learning and adaptation on our part.

Nonetheless, what shareholders at the World Bank Group ultimately want to know: what difference have these efforts—consultations, evaluations, commitment to learning—made? 

Among international development agencies, IEG has had the longest established system for tracking follow-up to evaluation recommendations. Just like many other institutions, we have reported on percentages of implemented follow-up actions, which however did not tell the full story. 

Instead, we have been piloting different approaches to increase WBG institutional uptake of our evaluation recommendations. These pilots have included facilitated workshops for IEG to listen to Management perspectives on IEG’s evaluations approach or recommendations, opportunities for Management to draft recommendations based on IEG’s findings, and workshops for Management to listen to IEG’s input on draft action plans.

In addition, we have done deeper analyses into recommendations on specific topics—evaluations related to environmental sustainability, for instance, as written up in the 2017 Results and Performance report and what happen consequently to have discussions with my counterparts at the World Bank Group. These analyses highlighted blindspots we had in IEG and in the institutions at large.

It will be for others to assess whether the strategy over the last seven years worked to improve how IEG functions and its value added, and for my successor to continue from here on.

 

Read Part 1 of this series, Looking back at 7 Years at the Helm of IEG.

Read Part 2 of this series, The Three Pillars of a Working Evaluation Function: IEG's Experience

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