USAID/Mexico Unlocks the Door for More Innovative MEL Approaches
USAID/Mexico recently updated its Country Development Coordination Strategy (CDCS) to reflect the changing context and priorities of both governments. This update meant USAID/Mexico needed to update its Performance Management Plan (PMP). The PMP is much more than a required document, as it is meant to be a tool to guide and monitor the Mission’s performance, ensure accountability for results, adaptively manage, and intentionally learn. The Program Office (PRO) and its new Monitoring and Evaluation Support for Adaptation (MESA) Activity worked together to design a novel process for updating the PMP, and sharing it widely to effectively engage Mission staff in design and use of the PMP.
The challenge was to both develop a document for the Mission to use in monitoring its strategy over the next five-years; while also ensuring staff actively read, engaged with, and utilized the PMP for their daily performance management. Mission staff have many priorities competing for their limited time, and they often feel that the PMP is a document primarily used by the Program Office, rather than an important tool that can help them in their daily work. Therefore, using traditional interviews, focus group discussions, and workshops for input and dissemination seemed uninspired and limiting.
As such, MESA and PRO developed non-traditional approaches to engage staff using competitions. One competition was for staff in each office to respond to surveys on what CLA in the Program Cycle and Enabling Conditions look like in practice at the Mission, with a prize for the winning office. The competition led to a 68 percent response rate. Then, MESA and PRO decided to lock Mission staff in a virtual Escape Room, where they had to solve PMP-related riddles. This time, 80 percent of the Mission participated.
While the dissemination plan is still in progress and the Escape Room happened very recently, we have already begun to see changes in organizational effectiveness. Excitement at the Mission for the competition, along with encouragement from leadership and Washington, created a lot of interest in the PMP. This performance management tool is now being accessed continuously, and easy-to-use reference materials can be seen throughout the office. PRO has also begun leading a more consistent and documented learning approach in the Mission, which is driving more interest and engagement with the Mission’s Learning Agenda.
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