An evolutionary approach to facilitating organisational learning : an experiment by the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CDDB).

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In 1994 an experiment on participatory monitoring was carried out with CCDBÆs PPRDP programme. CCDB is a medium sized Bangladeshi NGO that provides development assistance primarily geared towards women. The purpose of the experiment was to explore more innovative approaches to project monitoring away from more conventional approaches that emphasise the use of indicators. The experiment hoped to establish a more æiteratedÆ process or evolutionary approach to project evaluation. The approach sought to highlight differing perspectives and interpretation of project developments in order to learn from their experiences. Monitoring was undertaken by members of the CCDB programme, field level project staff, senior staff at the head office, and CCDB donors. Each of these groups were asked to identify and select on a monthly basis the most æsignificantÆ impacts or changes experienced under the programme and explain the basis of their selections; however, the structure of participation followed a hierarchical process of selection whereby the choices of participants were forwarded to higher levels of staff and finally to CCDB donors. In effect, the number of identified impacts eventually narrowed at each level of the organisational hierarchy. The first section of the paper outlines the methodology following a series of steps and then describes the state of the experimental monitoring system as of March 1995. It is then contrasted with other conventional approaches to monitoring. While the experimental monitoring system continues to be operational and CCDB staff have identified a wider range of objectives for the monitoring system, several weaknesses of the system are identified. Most significant among these is the tendency at all levels of staff to focus primarily on describing the æsignificantÆ project impacts, with less emphasis on elaborating their criteria for selecting those impacts. Also, project staff tended to report and select mostly positive impacts of the programmes, suggesting that the system biased against more critical reporting of events.

Source publication information
Conference Paper
ODI-CDS Workshop on The Potential for Process Monitoring in Project Management and Organisational Change.

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D : Monitoring and evaluation 2444