IEA Training Manual - Module 3

3.2.5 Step 5: Monitoring, evaluation and improvement

We know that in most work involving information processes and products, causality is difficult to demonstrate. But it is possible to look at incremental changes in attitudes, actions, and behaviours that are a direct outcome of one’s work (Earle and others 2001). Monitoring, evaluation and learning mechanisms should be in place to identify and map these incremental changes that will lead towards the decisions or changes sought, and to adjust the strategy if necessary.

Naturally, you are going to want to know whether your strategy is working. But, sometimes the signals that you are having real influence seem small and insignificant. These quiet signals will be the incremental changes in attitudes, actions and behaviours that are a direct outcome of your work. Is a key actor returning your phone calls? Are you being invited to committee meetings that were closed to you in the past? Are key actors coming to your meetings? What is happening in the media? Are you getting more stories about your work than you did before? Is there an increased demand for assessment reports?

Figure 4: Sample screen from
contacts database with journaling
function.

Monitoring and assessment mechanisms must be in place to identify and map these incremental changes that will lead towards the decisions or changes you are seeking. This can be a time intensive process, so it is a good idea to identify some key indicators, and set up simple ways to monitor your strategy against those indicators.

For example, a contacts database of key actors could be set up with a journaling function that will allow a record of interactions with them (see example screen on Figure 4). This can be as simple as just indicating the date and type of contact.

  • Dates you sent information about the process, invitations to presentations.
  • Dates they requested information dates they accepted invitations.

Keep a record of all media inquiries or request the appropriate government department whether they do media tracking (reviewing stories in the press about government initiatives; or more broadly, tracking issues of concern to the government). If they do, request notices of stories in the press about the assessment, or about issues relevant to the assessment.


For example, a media log for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment might have looked like this.

Date Media outlet Type of contact, title, description of media piece
30 March 2005   Press release distributed to all media outlets
April 2005 Economist Request for interview from Economist reporter
21 April 2005 Economist Article: “Rescuing environmentalism and the planet”:
reference to MA ecosystem services analysis

Important behaviour changes of your “target actors” (those you are seeking to influence) could be reflected in a progression from passively receiving information from the assessment, all the way through to acting on recommendations and demanding more work. The following would be a good checklist:

Important behaviour changes of your “target actors” (those you are seeking to influence) could be reflected in a progression from passively receiving information from the assessment, all the way through to acting on recommendations and demanding more work. The following would be a good checklist:   

  • Receiving information
    –    IEA process leaders sending information to target actors.
    –    IEA process leaders using media to communicate to target actors.
    –    IEA process leaders requesting, and securing, meetings with target actors.
  • Seeking and processing information
    –    Targets seeking information from others to “triangulate” or verify information they are    receiving through the IEA process.
    –    Media reporting messages from target actors that are consistent with IEA process messages.
  • Acting
    –    Issuing of new policy briefs, white papers, frameworks, regulations, other responses.
  • Demanding
    –    More work from IEA process leaders (e.g., follow-up investigations, more in depth assessments).

These and other indicators are discussed in more detail in Module 8 on monitoring and evaluation. There, you will see how monitoring the impact strategy will fit into the overall monitoring process.

See Exercise 3.2.5 ...

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