|Participatory Impact Monitoring - PIM Booklet 4: The Concept of Participatory Impact Monitoring (GTZ, 1996, 36 p.)|
|4. The Structure of PIM|
4.2.1 Invitation to handle PIM with fun and creativity
The simpler a concept, the more influence it can have on the manner of thinking and acting, the easier it can be adapted to the specific conditions. PIM consists of very simple building blocks (like Lego or Metaplan) that - once their use has been understood - can be adapted easily to different situations and contexts. For this reason, PIM is highly suitable for use in learning situations as well as in situations that change quickly or develop unforeseeably. The individual elements of PIM can be rearranged, replaced or expanded as easily as Lego building blocks or Metaplan cards. Thus, PIM is eo ipso process-oriented.
PIM uses very simple language and relatively many pictures. It tries to integrate itself in the respective reality, to respect and take up local languages and customs, so that it can be used in different contexts. The application of PIM should be considered meaningful, and it should be possible to implement PIM without difficulties or stress. PIM is not supposed to scare off people, and it should be fun to use. It is not supposed to correspond to the concept of hard work; rather, it should be possible to adapt it to cultures with a more easy-going understanding of work.
It is very easy to start PIM: It already works with just a few expectations and indicators. Subsequently, PIM can be expanded piece by piece; it can grow with the users.
Every PIM system, no matter how small it may be, is coherent and independent. It monitors its own expectations, uses its own indicators, and results in its own analyses and decisions. If one part of the monitoring system is given up, other parts can be continued independently. Up until now we have group-based impact monitoring and NGO-based impact monitoring. Yet, other PIM systems can be integrated easily, not only for funding agencies, but also, for example, for supervisory boards of the development organizations/NGO or other committees of the self-help groups.
PIM can be combined with other concepts, i.e. not only with such that feature similar premises with respect to process-conformity and participation, but also with completely different concepts such as ZOPP. Thus, PIM can accompany and support the gradual discontinuance of an old concept.
4.2.2 The monitoring steps
Group-based impact monitoring can be integrated without any difficulties in the regular meetings of groups; thus, only relatively little additional time will be needed. Since the monitoring is supposed to be carried out by the members of the group themselves, the individual steps can be defined freely. The informal aspects should be enhanced and must not go under as a result of premature formalization.
In the same way, NGO-based impact monitoring can be integrated in team meetings. If these are not held regularly, PIM provides an occasion. As a rule, it should only be used as a supplement to conventional monitoring of the target structure, resources and frame of action. It is possible that indicators for socio-cultural changes are already being obtained with the conventional monitoring; otherwise one merely has to add the socio-cultural indicators obtained through the PIM concept.
However, in those cases where conventional monitoring is not being conducted by the NGO, but the organization is interested in having such a system, PIM can also be used as a basic building block for a monitoring system. Due to its loose concept, it can allay people's fears and illustrate the feasibility of monitoring. Then it can grow slowly together with the NGO.
The steps and elements of PIM are described and commented in detail in the booklets 1 and 2.
Step by step
Steps in introducing PIM
1. What should be watched?
expectations and fears of the staff members with regard to socio-cultural changes
2. How can it be watched?
concrete examples of how these changes can be observed (indicators)
3. Who should watch?
elected staff members who are directly involved in the respective project
4. How can the results
records, tables, graphs, charts, be documented? descriptions
Steps in carrying out PIM
5. What did we observe?
reports at the beginning of staff meetings
6. Why do we have these
assessment and analysis by the staff results?
7. What should we do?
immediate decision (or preparation for a decision) at the meeting (= adjustment of plan)
Steps in introducing PIM
1. Expectations and fears: at the beginning, the group
determines which changes are most important for it:
- What are our expectations?
- What are our fears?
Three to five important aspects are selected from the statements.
The introduction is based on the assumption that these expectations and fears are a significant motivation for the group's members to participate in the activities or in the self-help group. Constant observation of these subjectively important effects or changes leads to reflection and decision-making, and it is a means of self-controlling the project and, if applicable, the organization.
Naturally, the expectations and fears mentioned above are only
the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, the concept provides that
- they be corrected and refined continuously;
- open questions investigate the actual, unforeseen changes;
- other significant expected or feared changes be included in the monitoring;
- a differentiation can be made between different subgroups (e.g. women, youth) that have different expectations and personal obiectives;
- group meetings begin by asking about any observed changes, so that the group can take regulative decisions.
An important objection to the approach of querying the group's expectations is that it does not help define the "real" impact. Yet, what is the "real" impact? The further away the recipient of the monitoring report, the more abstract the concept of impact becomes. However, the significance of PIM is that it creates awareness of the fact that there are different actors with different points of view. A theoretical explanation of the terms "impact" and "monitoring" cannot be provided in an introductory meeting of a self-help group, and this is not necessary. The course of the process is marked by the corrective measures, e.g. whereas indicators for short-term problems will disappear after a few months, the significant problems will remain on the agenda for a longer period of time.
2. Indicators: the group gives examples - as concrete as possible - of its expectations and fears. Simple indicators are formed on the basis of these examples.
Anyone who criticizes the scientific quality and systematics of this type of monitoring has to accept that it is primarily concerned with learning. And learning always means starting at a simple level and moving on to more complex aspects: the indicators are formulated and developed further by the group.
During the field phase, many indicators had not been derived from the expectations or fears by means of formal logic. Possibly some indicators were chosen on the basis of other considerations, e.g. because they are observed by the people anyway or because they contain other expectations. By analyzing the perceptions repeatedly, the meaningfulness and quality of the indicators are examined. In a process of trial and error, the group can work towards better indicators.
Another striking factor was that relatively many measurable indicators were selected. Then the relationship with learning processes and behavioural changes is not obvious to outside persons and needs to be explained. Yet, as mentioned above, the relationship made sense to the group.
In addition, a relatively high percentage of the indicators required "Yes" or "No" as an answer; supplementary comments then described the background. At first sight such indicators may seem unsatisfactory, but they can be applied most easily by an unskilled group. Moreover, the comments, in which these indicators were made more precise, proved very informative.
3. Observers: the group designates observers ("watchers") for the indicators/examples and defines how they are to report on these (e.g. on posters, at meetings).
The observers - formally - can be designated very quickly. Whether they then perform their tasks satisfactorily cannot be influenced from outside. Observers are expected to assume a high degree of responsibility and to work independently.
During the field phase, members holding senior positions were often chosen as observers. Thus, the group had influential observers who were obligated to assume more responsibility and provide transparency. At the same time, the creation of a parallel structure of power was avoided.
In many cases, however, it may be meaningful to confer the monitoring tasks on other persons from the group. Not only does this lead to more selfcontrol within the group, it also tends to stimulate learning processes, responsibility, and commitment among the other members.
4. Documentation: the indicators and their form, analyses and decisions are documented continuously.
This step is very important because with the documentation the organizations write their own history. It is a laborious task, but not excessively time consuming. Many self-help groups and development organizations/NGO have already made it a habit to keep records of meetings. During the field phase, the groups started keeping monitoring booklets or documentation.
Nonetheless, this is a weak point in practice, because it requires individual persons to sit down and complete the records regularly. Then the documentation can also be used for outside support.
Steps in implementing PIM
Steps in implementing PIM
5. Monitoring report: A short report is given at the beginning of every group meeting - prior to setting down the agenda: a. How have the indicators changed? (This can lead to corrections and refinements of the indicators used until then). b. What other important factors have changed? (This can help to decide whether additional indicators ought to be observed in future).
The manner of proceeding within PIM involves repeatedly monitoring specified criteria at regular intervals. In this respect it differs somewhat from many processes of self-evaluation and so on, where the situation analysis is based on open questions. Thus, PIM induces more regularity and, hence, shows the development of the group and its situation much more clearly.
Since PIM expects only limited continuity, however, there are inquiries with respect to additional changes. It remains unanswered at first what influences these changes, i.e. whether the changes are direct effects of the activities of one of the project actors. This is still of secondary importance in this step.
6. Analysis: if necessary, the group analyzes the origin of changes, for example on the basis of the following questions: a. What did the persons involved (we ourselves/other project actors/external actors) contribute to the changes? b. Which other effects/conclusions result from this?
Now the actual analysis of the effects is conducted. It may be unsatisfactory in formal-logical terms, but the actors are encouraged to reflect on their responsibility.
A documentation of this effect analysis need not be drawn up. However, it can be prepared at any time, if necessary.
7. Taking decisions: after the analysis, the group defines its agenda and I takes decisions. l
PIM - i.e. regular analysis of changes - should form the basis for the decisions of the individual project actors. Thus, the decisions are based on factual reasons, and the members are enabled to participate responsibly. The leadership of the organization becomes more transparent and democratic.
Joint reflection workshops
When testing PIM this part was sometimes underrated. The joint reflection workshops are an important part of impact monitoring, because the individual monitoring systems are brought together here, i.e. the individual actors are confronted with the standpoint of the other parties involved in the project.
This comparison of perceptions from different viewpoints underscores the project reality, provides more complex information on the changes, and gives rise to a deeper understanding of the impact of the project. PIM becomes a systemic approach without a formal-logical superstructure through the dynamics of the actors involved, since they continuously rearrange their positions with respect to one another.
Furthermore, this kind of exchange also affects the emotional level: the understanding of the project actors for one another is improved, and communication between them will be easier in future. By having a mirror held up to him, every actor can compare his self-image with the image of the other - and presumably can learn from this experience.
Facilitation of the PIM process
PIM cannot be implemented overnight. The monitoring system needs to be introduced and needs to be accompanied at all levels until it functions automatically. For this purpose facilitators are needed, who support the group in its efforts to conduct an autonomous opinion-forming and decision-making process.
This is even more necessary in joint reflection workshops: for example, if the NGO does not lead the workshop well and slips into an attitude of self justification, it risks blocking mutual learning.