For years, international organizations have documented lessons learned and best practices through the publication of evaluations, technical papers and guidelines. These documents are filled with valuable knowledge that has been learned “in the trenches.” Too often, however, the lessons from these documents are not learned. Why? For a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- People might not know the documents exist
- Documents might be in an unfriendly format (long, technical, complex)
- Time is always short and there are dozens of competing priorities!
Mercy Corps has addressed this challenge through a technology assisted approach. The organization’s DM&E team regularly schedules and facilitates DM&E Global Learning Exchanges. These consist of live webinar sessions (using the Blackboard Collaborate platform provided through LINGOs membership) to discuss recent evaluation documents that have been published by the agency.
M&E staff from around the world present on topics of interest, focusing on effective or innovative tools, methods and experiences. The DM&E team organizes topics, potential field presenters, promotion of the event and session facilitation. The first session in December 2009 witnessed over 70 staff from 20 countries logging on simultaneously to hear presentations on M&E data management solutions from CAR, Somalia, Kosovo and Pakistan. Over 900 individual chat messages were exchanged in the two-hour session, as members connected socially and professionally.
These events have changed the way knowledge related to evaluations is shared at Mercy Corps. The monthly conversations are lively and social. Over time, colleagues who previously might not have ever had the chance to develop personal relationships, now feel comfortable reaching out to each other with questions and requests for support. Most importantly, learning is no longer gathering dust on the shelf. Evaluations are shared and read before each event and discussed/debated during the monthly events.
“Without on-line training and sharing, I don’t think we could have implemented Mission Metrics,” notes Sanju Joshi of Mercy Corps Nepal.
|Analysis of learning
The following are a few key takeaways based on Mercy Corps’ experience in the above efforts:
The ‘Together We Learn’ Global Learning and Collaboration in the DM&E Community of Practice Program described in this post was selected as one of the top five innovations in Mercy Corps – stay tuned for final competition results.