Support the operationalisation of outcome focused approaches

We are seeking to embed an outcome orientation to the planning, monitoring and evaluation processes throughout the current phase of the Mobilising Knowledge for Development (MK4D) programme.

The Strategic Learning Initiative (part of the first phase of the MK4D programme) focused on consolidating surveys and web statistics to give a view of who was using their products. They also undertook interviews to identify the uses of their products and their role in the research policy environment.

As part of an analysis of their work, they identified that the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities at that time were predominantly about the production of deliverables, i.e. the outputs of the programme, and did not necessarily take a view on the outcomes of the programme. In particular by using a Theory of Change approach, SLI were able to identify their expected outcome for the new MK4D phase 2.

Redirecting focus to outcomes (not outputs)

In order to discuss outcome orientation for M&E, we began with a discussion on "Outcome Mapping" (PDF) (OM). OM is a toolkit of processes proposed by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and increasingly adopted by a number of organisations in the development sector. A learning community for Outcome Mapping is hosted by the Oversease Development Institute (ODI).

IDS has used an adapted OM approach, and we have discussed an "outcome orientation" with staff i.e. seeking to get buy in to the principles and focus on outcomes, rather than buy in to particular toolkit.

We note that one of the strong value points of the OM approach is its understanding that life is complex and not linear. Another core feature of the OM toolkit is its emphasis on the people involved, and in particular defining your boundary actors. This has proven to be challenging and helpful for staff as they move from an IDS-centric approach to one of networked partnerships of co-creation. We have also begun the process of engaging with partners to bring an outcome orientation to their own work, and to identify their own boundary actors.

Project details

start date
15 January 2010