Monitoring advancements, measuring results, disseminating learnings.

The module Reflection focus on monitoring advancements of the process activated, measuring results (also involving beneficiaries and stakeholders) and disseminate the learnings to a wider audience.

To reflect on the process activated in a specific context is necessary not only to report the results of our work to founders or external, but because it give sense to all the rest: the organizations that initiate the process could better recognize their role as changer activator in a community and measure the results of their work to continue their action.

It is not easy to measure the impact of participatory processes as they are mostly based on the relations within a specific community that are changing continuously. Despite that measuring the impact of our work is the only way to become aware of our success (and failures) and to reflect together with the stakeholders on the change produced.

Key Questions

  1. How do we make the most of our learnings and results?
  2. How do we disseminate and maximise outcomes?
  3. How do we co-monitor progress?
  4. How do we measure the impact of our action?
  5. How do we co-define and select performance indicators?


Step 1:
How do we learn from what we do

Participatory process is a peer learning process in which both the promoters and the local person involved (residents and stakeholders) are learning one from each others. The facilitators/community workers need to continuously question themselves and take notes of what happened at local level and on the status of the relations between them and the local community and to report the results of the observation/learning to the local administrations.

Thinking about the experience realized is one of the privileged tools for knowing, understanding, transforming reality. Reflecting about the experience as a tool for change. Circularity between reflexivity and project design; experience and reflexivity on experience. Dynamic way of thinking about the present reality; what generated it; how it developed (tools, resources, expertise, criticality); how it thinks about the future.

It is crucial in a participatory process to take time to reflect on the process activated, our role in the community and the lessons learned. Very often what we have planned do not respond to what really the community need, or cover just a little part of it.

Places for reflection and work; for defining strategies and goals on which to build and evaluate projects; visualize possible worlds.

Engagement Diary

A diary is as a space for personal reflection. Reflexivity is a key ingredient in any participative process and an important skill to cultivate. Without it, transformation and imagination cease to exist. When integrated into your practice possibilities start to be defined. Use this tool as a way to check in with yourself and take the time to express your doubts, your learnings or even uncomfortable topics that arise in your practice.

Any way of collecting impressions are valid: writing, audio-notes, video, drawing…

According to the nature of the process the format of the engagement diary might vary. Lengthier processes might require updated versions of a diary with renewed questions, while processes that involve multiple partners might benefit from including different voices in the diaries. The objective is to record how transformation takes shape in front of and through us.

We have proposed two engagement diaries templates in the Edu-city project, one to record the learnings of the trainees that assisted to our training for neighbourhood facilitators and one to record the local practices in each of the partner cities. The templates are presented here and are encouraged to be readapted to other contexts.

Step 2:
How do we measure the impact

To measure the impact of our work with the community we need to start from the beginning to define ex-ante our goals and objectives. Otherwise what we measure will be just random effects of our action that cannot be analyzed according to qualitative and quantitative indicators. First phase of research/action to outline the framework of needs, resources in a specific context; context reality analysis used to provide a general picture of the neighborhood (history, experience, demographic, social, urban characteristics) and the socio-relational situation through the experiences of the people. Only through this first phase of analysis the facilitator could start to define strategies and goals specific for the context.

Once the objectives have been defined the facilitator needs to monitor during the realization of the action its effects on the territory. Continuous participatory monitoring of the state of community relations. The neighborhood facilitator is present in the everyday places of the inhabitants, listen the territory and build community relationships, taking care of contacts with the territory. Ability of the operator to empathize with the people met, grow the human relationship, managing to connect people with each other in an informal way. The reality of the neighborhood should always be sought and intercepted in the places where it already exists. The main task of the operator is to be the relationship, to be in relationships in the everyday: to understand how to build occasions or situations in which to make relationships come alive knowing how to listen and speak in contexts of informality; being ready to grasp and connect ideas, proposals. The facilitator acts as a connector and take attention to informal changes and to the reactions of the people involved (leaving them the time to become aware of the transformation). Ability to value relationships as a generative principle of individual and collective well-being.

We can identify some quantitative indicators to evaluate the impact of the work of the neighborhood facilitator on the territory:

Step 3:
How do we engage beneficiaries into identifying key indicators

Involving beneficiaries in the impact assessment is fundamental. They are the ones who can identify needs, objectives and indicators to evaluate the success of our actions. This part of the process requires strategic thinking and it will be more or less challenging according to our ability to set common goals and to mediate the ambitions and interests of the group.

The process of setting a baseline is very much connected to the second pillar of this training, the engagement. We cannot establish objectives and procedures to measure their success if there is not a group committed to the task.

The involvement of stakeholders for any activity is often very limited by their time and availability and therefore winning their involvement for the impact assessment needs to framed in the appropriate way. At the end of the day, establishing a baseline is not different from checking-in with each other, having a conversation, getting to know us better and putting experiences in common. It is part of the process of creating trust. And a discussion on how things were and how things could be like is another step in the process of learning how to trust each other and to develop a common language.

While planning sessions focused on impact assessment (for example a focus group for establishing an ex-ante baseline) it is very important to be mindful of the power dynamics that could arise in the group. For example, the presence of men might not allow women to express themselves and therefore, it might be advisable to organize separate sessions. Or maybe there are existing conflicts between neighbors that impede them to share the same space, or to engage together in such a deep discussion. In our experience it is advisable to notify the participants who will be present and give space for feedback and modifications.

It is a good idea to prepare on advance some questions addressing key topics to guide the conversation, even if then it can and should develop into an open dialogue. This will help us to make sense of the themes that are being put in the table and be able to suggest possible ways to move further in our actions and in the measurement of their success.

Step 4:
How do we disseminate result

To disseminate the result of our action/practices to the community we could use different tools as local radio and newspaper, social media, reports for the municipality and external stakeholders. Another tool are community platform as the community atlas developed in our previous project Comensi ( ). With the atlas is possible to show all the information collected during the process, the stories, people and places but also video testimonies and local actions realized with the community.

Bold step vision

This tool lets you go beyoud writing long-winded paper visions to generate a vision of what you are going to fight for, the long term changes or benefits you’re going to create, and what steps you are going to take to get “there”. The bold steps canvas is a perfect tool to align your own team and your collaborators.

Your vision statement

Can you describe your vision for the future state of your project in a sentence? This relates to your mission with regards to the impact on your communities. The inspiring vision should be concrete and clear.

Your supports to reach the vision

What are the supports that strengthen you while reaching your vision? Think of resources, partners, skills, broader context and circumstances, existing the process.

Your challenges to reach the vision

What are the challenges or risks that hinder your while reaching your vision Think of ressources partners, skills, broader context and circumpstances, existing processes, weaknesses.

3 bold steps to your vision

What are the 3 bold steps you need to take to reach this vision? Think of strategical decisions, partnerships, radical changes, international / external necessities.

The impact of your project

What is the social, environmental, territorial and cultural impact of your project? What are the measurable effects of your work?

How are you going to measure impact for each of the bold steps you need to take?

Cover story vision

What is the most amazing future you see for your idea (and yourself and your beneficiaries)? What are your key audiences? This tool challenges you and yourselves in the future : how will the wolrd respond to what you have accomplished in 1 year or 2 years time? So what does it take to create a great story? And how do you make sure it finds an audience?

Key audiences : Identify what your 2 main audiences

Key Audience 1

Key Audience 2

The story

Choose the main character of your o story. What is their most pressing issue, problem, or desire? Who is telling your story?

What newspaper, magazine or website you’d like to be featured in once you’ve achieved your vision? The tone, voice, and readership of the particular media make a big difference.

What’s the bottom line, the facts and fugures that support the story? This it the raw information that needs to be translated into narratives that touch and engage.

Capture the essence of your story in a sentence. Try not to write more than 140 characters.