by Alexis Smart, Senior Technical Officer, and Alexis Banks, Technical Officer, at Root Change
As part of their session at MERL Tech DC 2018, Root Change launched Pando, an online platform that makes it possible to visualize, learn from, and engage with the systems where you work. Pando harnesses the power of network maps and feedback surveys to help organizations strengthen systems and improve their impact.
Decades of experience in the field of international development has taught our team that trust and relationships are at the heart of social change. Our research shows that achieving and sustaining development outcomes depends on the contributions of multiple actors embedded in thick webs of social relationships and interactions. However, traditional MERL approaches have failed to help us understand the complex dynamics within those relationships. Pando was created to enable organizations to measure trust, relationships, and accountability between development actors.
Relationship Management & Network Maps
Grounded in social network analysis, Pando uses web-based relationship surveys to identify diverse organizations within a system and track relationships in real time. The platform automatically-generates a network map that visualizes the organizations and relationships within
Feedback Surveys & Analysis
Pando is integrated with Keystone Accountability’s Feedback Commons, an online tool that gives map administrators the ability to collect and analyze feedback about levels of trust and relationship quality among map participants. The combined power of network maps and feedback surveys helps create a holistic understanding of the system of organizations that impact a social issue, facilitate dialogue, and track change over time as actors work together to strengthen the system.
Examples of Systems Analysis
During Root Change’s session, “Measuring Complexity: A Real-Time Systems Analysis Tool,”Root Change Co-Founder, Evan Bloom and Senior Technical Officer, Alexis Smart, highlighted four examples of using network analysis to create social change from our work:
- Evaluating Local Humanitarian ResponseSystems: We worked with the Harvard Humanitarian Institute (HHI) to evaluate the effect of local capacity development efforts on local ownership within humanitarian response networks in the Philippines, Kenya, Myanmar, and Ethiopia. Using social network analysis, Root Change and HHI assessed the roles of local and international organizations within each network to determine
thedegreeto which each system was locally-led.
- Supporting Collective Impact in Nigeria: Network mapping has also been used in the USAID funded Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement (SACE) project in Nigeria. Over five years, more than 1,300
organizationsand2,000 relationships across 17 advocacy issue areas were identified andtracked. Nigerian organizations used the map to form meaningful partnerships ,setcommon agendas, coordinate strategies, and hold the government accountable.
- Informing Project Design in Kenya – Root Change and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) collected relationship data from hundreds of youth and organizations supporting youth opportunities in coastal Kenya. Analysis revealed gaps in expertise within the system, and opportunities to improve relationships among organizations and youth. These insights helped inform AKF’s program design, and ongoing mapping will be used to monitor system change.
- Tracking Local Ownership: This year, under USAID Local Works, Root Change is working with USAID missions to measure local ownership of development initiatives using newly designed localization metrics on Pando. USAID Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) launched a national Local Works map, identifying over 1,000 organizations working together on community development. Root Change and USAID BiH are exploring a pilot to use this map to continue to collect data and track localization metrics and train a local organization to support with this process.
Join the MERL Tech DC Network Map
As part of the MERL Tech DC 2018 conference, Root Change launched a map of the MERL Tech community. Event participants were invited to join this collaborative mapping effort to identify and visualize the relationships between organizations working to design, fund, and implement technology that supports monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL) efforts in development.
It’s not too late to join! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation to join the MERL Tech DC map and a chance to explore Pando.
Learn more about Pando
Pando is the culmination of more than a decade of experience providing training and coaching on the use of social network analysis and feedback surveys to design, monitor, and evaluate systems change initiatives. Initial feedback from international and local NGOs, governments, community-based organizations, and more is promising. But don’t take our word for it. We want to hear from you about ways that Pando could be useful in your social impact work. Contact us to discuss ways Pando could be applied in your programs.