Guijt identifies the success factors behind what you called call ‘really useful measurement’: the methods employed must be feasible, useful and rigorous, accompanied by autonomy and fairness, generate time and space for reflection on evidence of results, and agile. She goes on to explain the meaning of those rather motherhood and apple pie terms. A few excerpts:
"Particularly detrimental is the wasted effort invested in collecting incorrect or unused results data". She argues that by contrast, ‘soft data’ can be particularly useful, such as programme managers personally listening to the views of children and young people.
What is Rigour?: "While much of the rigour debate focuses on whether data is rigorous, we should focus on seeking more rigorous thought processes and method selection and use … the term ‘rigour’ needs to be reclaimed beyond narrow method-bound definitions to encompass better inclusion of less powerful voices and improved analysis of power, politics, assumptions and resource allocation".
"Results and evidence approaches should strongly emphasize reflection about what is known and what needs further inquiry. Asking people to transcribe results data rather than making sense of that data is increasingly seen as an entrenched problem."
She finishes by setting out a positive agenda of seven strategies
'Develop political astuteness and personal agency’: "people’s ability to use the results and evidence agendas positively makes them activists within their organizations, and with funding agencies and partner organizations"
‘Understand dynamic political context and organizational values’: learn to advocate within your own organization
‘Identify and work with what is positive about the results and evidence agenda’: this is the meaning of the book’s subtitle ‘playing the game to change the rules?’
‘Facilitate front-line staff to speak for themselves’: always powerful as a results focus can technocratize issues and diminish the voices of those on the ground
‘Create space for learning and influence’
‘Advocate for collective action’ – the good guys need to work together to perform the kind of ju jitsu on the results agenda set out in the previous strategies
‘Take advantage of emerging opportunities’: don’t just complain; embrace new converts in the mainstream, despite their irritating habit of claiming that they of ‘doing development differently’ first……
Some previous posts on the measurement debate here , here and here .
This post first appeared on From Poverty to Power
Book cover by Mercer Design via Practical Action Publishing
Photograph of Leaders of a passion fruit producers' alliance in Buga, Colombia by Charlotte Kesl via World Bank Photo Collection