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Increasing Impact by Focusing on Results

Producing results is about knowing what works and replicating it, but how do we produce results professionals? 


The data revolution is well underway and well documented, but are we also in the midst of a results revolution? 

During the launch of the Bank Group’s new Results, Measurement and Evidence Stream last week, President Kim reminded the audience that even in a profession, such as medicine, that today is seen as deeply evidence based, the widespread use of results - rather than anecdote - began just 30 years ago. And the same is true in international development. Not so long ago, few people in the Bank Group could produce solid results data. 

The Bank Group's commitment to the RMES community of practice shows that having a cadre of trained professionals who are able to objectively monitor and evaluate results and produce evidence that informs future decisions is as important to achieving its goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity as the discipline has been in producing better health outcomes in the medical profession.

 

RME logo

Goals of the RMES:

(1) Promote and develop a world-class cadre of results measurement professionals.

(2) Foster a holistic approach towards results and evidence.

(3) Advance the frontiers of knowledge about key technical aspects of monitoring and evaluation to help the World Bank Group and its clients to adopt cutting-edge practices.

Results that benefit clients

IEG has been evaluating what works and what doesn’t in Bank Group interventions since its inception and will be a significant player in the RMES going forward. So, what’s in it for us? As our Director General, Caroline Heider, said at the event, our objective is straightforward - that the Bank be more successful to the benefit of its clients.Creating a means for Bank Group operations to take ownership of self-evaluation and results benefits both those who implemented a project and those - such as IEG - who evaluated it afterwards - and, of course, the beneficiaries. Everyone involved in the process is looking for the same thing - positive results with enduring impact. 

 

Creating tomorrow’s evidence gurus

As we move towards the professionalization of results measurement within the Bank Group, a range of important questions emerge: what skills does it need to invest in to create this new group of professionals; what methodologies and indicators should be used; how to do we create the necessary incentives for evidence; and even how do we define success?

And what about the client perspective? During the event there was a question about whether clients even care about measurement. The answer from IEG’s chief was an emphatic yes - clients want to know what they are getting for the money being spent. They will also be looking for learning products that meet their demands and for indicators that are developed in an interactive way so that they allow for high-level corporate tracking but remain operationally relevant to people on the ground.

Next week a new organizational structure will be rolled out across the Bank Group that is designed to enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing. In his closing remarks last week, President Kim said he was looking for integrators to help share ideas across organizational boundaries. The success of the RMES initiative will be dependent on this integration and collaboration both within the Bank and in client countries. The future of results-informed decision-making depends on it. Long live the results revolution!

 

Comments

Jindra Cekan, PhD
Great you are becoming more client focused... That includes #ValuingVoices of participants to gauge project long-term self-suatainabity. Yet the Bank seems to have done only 1 ex-post eval? See "The lack of ex-post project evaluation at the World Bank: One has no power" valuingvoices.com/the-lack-of-ex-post-project-evaluation... Thx!
Eddah Kanini
I like the fact that you are measuring the Impact of activities to the communities. This is a good practice and all organizations need to be encouraged undertake it. My question is; After how long (post the project) did you conduct the Impact Evaluation? Have you documented the results and how can one access them. Are there any effective practices documented? Keep up the good work.
Nasir Ali
This is really the need of the new development era to be measured the result at activity level and i think this will enhance the self-effectiveness of the community, group of community.
Bernadette Wrig...
Yay for a holistic approach towards results and evidence, as well as making results-informed decisions. One point I don't 100% agree with however, is that "Producing results is about knowing what works and replicating it." In social programs and policies, to get better results we can often replicate some processes and strategies that have worked well before, but we also need to continually strive to use knowledge gained to develop new and better solutions. This is similar to the physical sciences where scientists build upon the best theories in their field and add new knowledge and insights to create new and better theories that provide better explanations for whatever they are studying.
Nick York
Many thanks for your interest in the blog. In reply to and agreeing with Jindra's comment, we also see an important issue that there may be scope for more ex-post impact evaluation of projects. Typically one obstacle to those happening is that the funding of the evaluation is tied to the funding of the process. When I worked in DFID we identified ways of funding evaluations through other streams which allowed more ex ante and more ex post work outside the project funding stream itself, which was very useful. IEG is about to start its next evaluation of the Bank's self evaluation systems and this point is something that I will raise when we look at the approach paper. As far as I can see (replying to Eddah's question) the evaluations at the moment are done either during a project or close to when a project is completed, which is usually not long enough to be able to assess sustainability of impact. I very much agree with Bernadette's point as well - there is a difference between developing knowledge about possible solutions and learning what works in what way and why, as oppossed to applying solutions off the shelf regardless of context. Nick
LinaJensen
The funding problem can perhaps be solved by allotting project budget for ex-post evaluation to be used after project completion. The funding institution can establish a "pool" from which to draw funding for ex=post evaluation (this of course depends on the institution's financial management system and policies). Another potential problem in ex-post evaluation is attribution of results. How can we fairly say that results, negative or positive, can wholly or partially attributed, say to DFID or the WB or USAID?
Maurya Meiers
Dear Lina, Thanks for your comments and point about attribution. Indeed, issues around determining causality (contribution and attribution) are among the most difficult that we face as evaluators, especially with interventions that are complex, cover a long period of time, overlap with other interventions in the same region, and so on. There is no "cookie-cutter" response to your point other than to say that it's important to have the most appropriate design for the evaluation questions we want answered about the intervention. In addition to learning more about causality by reading research methods books and other papers, readers of this blog might want to check out the many resources that the BetterEvaluation team has put together on causality. See http://betterevaluation.org/plan/understandcauses

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