Dear WAME Memebers,
Shall we discuss the topic mentioned.
I think that this is an excellent topic to begin with. I am posting what Abayneh had shared with me via email to get the discussion started. Please join in by responding to the questions below:
There is this general understanding that success stories are different from learning stories, in which the first focus on quantitative evidence of achievement in the M&E indicators while the latter pertains to the qualitative documentation of lessons learned to include success and failure as well.
1) But how can we make learning stories evidence based?
2)Do we use data other than those obtained through the M&E system and if so what sort and how would that be different ?
Greetings Abayneh, I remember well your participation in our regional knowledge sharing meeting in Addis last June. How nice to hear your insightful question here.
I am so pleased you are echoing the important distinction between success stories and learning. I feel the distinction is somewhat akin to the distinction between M&E for accountability and M&E for performance management. The former, in both cases, are for our donors but don't necessarily help us to learn to do our work better. In the case of success stories, they are a necessary part of a system of fundraising - ultimately making their way to U.S. Congress or the fundraising efforts in our own organizations. Without them, I suppose, it would be hard to get funding for the work we do. But they do not teach us what we need to do better.
As for learning stories, there is so much uncharted water. In the last FSN Network KM Task Force meeting, we were just discussing putting together guidelines in the coming year as to what constitutes a good learning story/ case study / deep dive of program activities. How do we ensure quality in what is recorded and produced. And your question of the necessary M&E elements is a critical one.
My one thought is that a critical feature of a learning-based examination of our programs will rely on our being able to look at those junctures where adaptation was necessary - where our original conceptions about the causal framework proved wrong, formative research taught us something new about our context, unexpected results demonstrated that A+B does not equal C as we thought, or that operations research or simple experience taught us that there is a better, more efficient way to get done what we want to get done.
All to say, while we on the KM side may tend to be looking more on the qualitiative side of these examinations, I look forward to partnership with M&E experts such as yourself on the necessary indicators than can capture such adaptation. Interesting stuff! I look forward to talking more with you.
This provides a really clear distinction between sucess stories and learning stories. Great comments Joan.
Does anyone have examples of how they have successfully used 'Learning Stories' or suggestions for guidelines of what constitutes a good learning story?