MERLTech 2016: So, What Have We Learned?

Hello friends! A few weeks ago, I attended MERLTech 2016 and perused my visual notes from the MERLTech 2015 before the conference began. My key take aways from MERLTech 2015 (indicated by a green star in the notes) were:

  1. We don’t ask frequently enough how often M&E projects become self-supported and are sustained long term.
  2. Successful organizations focus more time/resources on training decision-makers how to interpret data and less on improving the accuracy of the data itself.
  3. When it comes to tech tools, it’s important to understand what participants are already using and use that platform to communicate/collect data.
  4. We are learning the same lessons over and over again. We end our reports with “lessons learned” but are we actually learning? (Spolier alert: No). How can we actually help our teams and organizations to learn?
  5. If we really want to have “locally-led” initiatives, we need to reverse our thinking around who “owns” the data we are collecting.
  6. Before putting time and resources into answering learning questions – check to see if others have sought to answer those same questions already.
  7. A well-functioning relationship between MERL and program management is critically important.

So, have we actually learned since MERLTech 2015? Take a look at the visual recap of MERLTech 2016 below and post your comments. What have you learned this past year? Stay tuned for a follow on blog post from me on USAID’s Learning Lab site!


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