7 Learn. Always. We see ownership, sustainability, and empowerment emerging from learning. We don’t only learn from monitoring and evaluation but from every report, example, story, blog, conversation, picture and video. We are always turning information (data) into true knowledge (something that we can act on). The principle is the simplest and the most profound at the same time. It’s a good starting point. And ending point. Our organization and those we work with are always improving our work.
Outputs: We monitor & evaluate to determine if our projects (outputs) are yielding changes (outcomes) that we can tie into true impacts regarding reductions in poverty. Our reporting that we do and that we receive is intended to help us learn. But across all our projects and across our organization, the output is really a focus and intent to learn wherever or whenever we are.
Outcomes: This allows us to modify, adapt and change to uncertain circumstances or contexts that are altered. After the earthquake for example earthbag buildings were NOT approved by the national government. We learned that we had to adapt to newly approved earthquake resistant, traditional stone buildings while we worked to get earthbag designs approved. We learned. We adapted. We changed. Now learning in this example has been transferred to the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) while they learn about the resistance of earthbag buildings. Our job is to help them learn about them. In every relationship, every collaboration, strength, or focus on the future, we can generate outcomes that are building genuine knowledge.
Impacts: The greater scale impact of this knowledge is that we can adapt and grow, communities can shift designs, build capacity to take care of their development needs, and generate sustainability and ownership on their own. Learning isn’t book smart and test efficacy, but is a focus on human development rather than a bricks and mortar building.