Learning and Research
Liberation from a Broken Status Quo
There is a quiet revolution taking place in the field of monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL). Reform is needed because “legacy” MEL has some serious problems, mainly to do with how it can reinforce top-down control and even neocolonialism, and how it privileges rational-positivist approaches over more culture- and art-rich methods that uplift various worldviews and solicit rich data. We specialize in MEL and research that are liberating all around – that free organizations from expectations of tedious data gathering that has little effect, opens the door to more creative ways of learning and gathering data, and is intentional about the role research and learning can play in liberating disadvantaged populations. As a function that consumes significant time and effort in organizations, we also look at the ways in which MEL can support a culture of creativity.
“The songs will be new in your throat. We are always beginning. We are always beginning again.”
—Laurie Ann Guerero
How can we help?
We help teams or organizations design and adopt MEL systems that are easy and fun to use, gather rich data and nurture a culture of creativity. Our MEL work is also power-aware; for example, our study on demand-driven learning suggests that most organizations have more latitude to set the terms of their learning than they think, including through negotiating different terms with donors.
The difference between an expertly facilitated dialogue and a mediocre one is like the difference between a wilted flower and a vibrant bloom. We have a veritable garden of approaches for facilitating reflective dialogues – visionboarding, critical moments methodology, appreciative inquiry, imitation poetry—to name just a few, to help you make your facilitated dialogues magical and learning-rich.
We take both a deficits and an assets lens in our research. In the former, we help clients uncover systemic drivers and relentlessly follow interesting threads in the data until we find some unique answers. We also use research methods that help uncover often ignored or hidden assets, with a key example being network mapping, an interactive method that showcases human capital and collective impact.
Social Assets and Impact Reports
Stop counting outputs alone (e.g. number of workshops held, quantity of supplies delivered) and let us help you find ways to gauge where change is happening, including through measuring the social assets like trust, local knowledge, and creative assets that often go unmeasured. Then let us find you a format–whether video, data-art, or web–that beautifully conveys your impact story.