I4DI partners to optimize organizational Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL)

I4DI partners to optimize organizational Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL)

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The Institute for Development Impact (I4DI) has partnered with a consortium made up of MIT, Tufts University and Root Capital, World Vision and USAID to develop a streamlined yet thorough system for program monitoring, evaluation, research and learning. The Lean Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (Lean MERL) initiative will apply lean research principles of rigor, relevance, respect and right-size to a framework that allows organizations to collect useful data, monitor progress, analyze results, and make decisions to improve programs while also minimizing the burden on participants.

The initial funding to develop Lean MERL comes from the USAID US Global Development Lab’s Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Innovations Program (MERLIN). “The U.S. Global Development Lab is excited to partner with a diverse group of organizations on Lean MERL to implement and test innovative approaches to measure development impact, enhance learning, and increase our ability to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable around the world,” said Ann Mei Chang, executive director of the U.S. Global Development Lab. “Together, we aim to close a gap in the development community’s decision cycle by improving the adaptive capacity and efficacy of development interventions.”

In addition to I4DI, the other organizations involved include World Vision  (Prime) and MIT D-Lab (Technical Lead), as well as Innovations for Poverty Action, Root Capital , Search for Common Ground, The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan. Partners will develop the framework for Lean MERL, create field guides and provide training for users, coordinate testing of the tools with select USAID programs, publish case studies, and encourage the adoption of this model throughout the international development field.

I4DI brings conceptual and methodological expertise to developing and implementing the Lean MERL concept, offering a theoretical grounding to the approach and practical solutions for overcoming organizational barriers to implementing a lean approach to Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning. I4DI has broad experience providing technical support and will partner in this effort to:

  • develop and implement a competency framework for program staff who are applying Lean MERL;
  • test and refine the tools and methods of the Lean MERL approach;
  • identify and address operational, organizational, and technical challenges to increase efficiency and effectiveness; and
  • support organizations implementing Lean MERL.


Check back later for updates on this exciting initiative.


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