Six reasons to invest in your capability to drive better impact

Building a business case for your professional development.
Feb 14
Ever been in a situation where you're struggling to put together an impact summary or feeling overwhelmed by evaluation data? If that sounds familiar, it might be time to consider boosting your skills with some quality training.

Evaluation experts, Damien Sweeney and Bethany Hanson have helpfully put together the following reasons for investing in your Measurement, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) capability which you can share with you manager - plus, we've include some reasons why they should join you too!

1. Bethany: You'll get more savvy at quickly learning from mistakes and figure out how to steer clear of them.

Sure, evaluation can sometimes seem like a wrist-slapping exercise or program criticism. But that's not the whole story. Failing is just a way to learn, and a mistake only becomes an issue if you make it twice! If you don't take the chance to learn from failure, it'll hold back your organisation's progress. Take Google X, for example – they're big on quickly learning from failure.

2. Damien: You’ll find out how to make MEL work for the project goals– not just for the funders or other stakeholders.

When organisations invest in training, they start to see the potential that MEL can unlock and how it can boost their project's impact and ongoing learning. Without this, MEL is often seen as an end-of-project activity to establish accountability. It’s then organisations realise they’ve missed the opportunity to capture key data to make an accurate assessment of what’s worked, plus they've missed opportunities to learn and adapt throughout the program life cycle.

3. Bethany: Teams and organisations that speak the same language and have a shared purpose tend to be higher performing.

When teams and organisations are on the same page about what they’re trying to achieve and how it will be measured, they all work together toward the same goal. Adopting a communication approach that facilitates access to information and promotes shared accountability is also very important. These organisations tend to generate greater efficiencies through collaborative teamwork.

4. Damien: It’s a powerful tool to empower and motivate staff

When staff understand what MEL is and why it's important, their perspective shifts from seeing it as just 'audits and accountability', to realising it can actually help them do their jobs better and achieve greater outcomes. This can be hugely motivating; suddenly something that may have been perceived as boring or unimportant becomes valuable, and people are much more invested in it.

Why should your manager boost their knowledge too?

5. Bethany: MEL is a team sport – everyone has a role to play

For MEL to deliver its full value, where everybody is learning and thinking critically, an organisation must embrace a culture of evaluative thinking and learning. And it usually starts with the leaders. When the leaders say, "We made a mistake, we learned from it, and now we're going to do things differently," it creates an environment where staff can openly talk about their mistakes as opportunities to learn, instead of being afraid of getting in trouble. When leaders understand the true purpose and power of MEL for the organisation, it makes change projects more successful. So, everyone, including your manager, has a part to play in MEL, and would benefit from upskilling themselves in this area.

6. Damien: Evaluation is a complementary project management skill

To make a program successful, everyone involved should have a sound understanding on how to evaluate its impact - and often, this is only possible through formal training. They need to understand core MEL components like Program Logic, monitoring and measurement, evaluative thinking, and continual improvement. These skills are like a bonus to project management, helping the team to do their jobs better and achieve greater outcomes.